NHRA: Pritchett Beats ‘Papa John’ To Stay Perfect In Charity Challenge

Jacob Seelman Featured, NHRA 0 Comments

Leah Pritchett (far left), ‘Papa’ John Schnatter (second from right) and Don Schumacher (far right) present retired Army veteran Gary Linfoot with a $20,000 check to benefit the Infinite Hero Foundation on Saturday at zMAX Dragway. (Jacob Seelman photo)

CONCORD, N.C. — Leah Pritchett topped sponsor and friend ‘Papa’ John Schnatter to win the second leg of the DSR Charity Challenge on Saturday at zMAX Dragway, taking a 2-0 lead in the multi-race series.

Pritchett drove her supercharged Mopar Gen III HEMI-powered Dodge Challenger to a pass of 9.896 seconds at 153.35 mph, beating Schnatter’s special gold Chevrolet Camaro Z28, which ran a losing 12.331 at 112.42.

The race was held to benefit former armed service members, with Schnatter and team owner Don Schumacher each donating $10,000 to the Infinite Hero Foundation.

Saturday’s win for Pritchett extended her overall record to 3-0 against Schnatter, including wins at Indianapolis last fall and in Gainesville earlier this year.

“That was a very fun race,” Pritchett said. “When John cut a .008 (reaction time) in practice, he had me sweating … really! He was slow getting in (to the staging beams) and messing with me a little bit, and I was up on the two-step a little too long, let the burner get hot and blew the tires off. I had to pedal it, but I still found the finish line first.”

“I know this deal is about supporting charity and the military, but today we had a heck of a drag race! I’m definitely looking forward to the next one against him.”

Schnatter’s bought his Camaro Z28 for $1,600 at 15 years old and sold it to keep his dad out of bankruptcy, eventually starting the very first Papa John’s pizzeria.

In 2009, he was reunited with his cherished Camaro and fit it for racing.

Leah Pritchett (near lane) races ‘Papa’ John Schnatter (far lane) Saturday at zMAX Dragway. (Track photo)

The pizza guru said following Saturday’s race that he’s “tired of losing to Leah” but is “equally happy” that his gold Camaro is being used to help support the Infinite Hero Foundation’s charitable cause.

“In all fairness, I had a good shot at beating Leah, but I messed up the transmission (in the practice pass) and didn’t have a chance the second time out. I’ve only driven that car four times in race conditions, so I’ve got to learn the car.”

“I’ve definitely gotta start practicing … I can’t just show up and do this because she’s just too good, but I did shake her up a little bit and I am pretty proud of that (laughter).”

The Infinite Hero Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes awareness and provides resources to help combat the mental and physical issues faced by returning military heroes and their families.

As the winner of the Charity Challenge race in Charlotte, Pritchett presented a $20,000 check — funded by Papa John’s and Don Schumacher Racing — to retired U.S. Army officer Gary Linfoot.

Linfoot is the survivor of a helicopter crash that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Through the Infinite Hero Foundation, he became the first military recipient of an Ekso Bionics exoskeleton for home use. With the help of his wife Mari, Gary has taken over 300,000 steps with the exoskeleton to-date.

Schnatter joked after the race that Pritchett ought to let him win the next round of the Charity Challenge, otherwise he “might have to reconsider the sponsorship” of her DSR Top Fuel dragster for next season.

“No, I’m kidding, Leah … don’t let me win,” he later said.

“We’re racers, John,” Pritchett fired back. “I show up to win every time I come to the race track.”


About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.

Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

Email Jacob at: editor@racechaseronline.com

Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

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