Fire for competition burns for a strong 2022 for Leah Pruett
By Ronnie Kohrt
As seen in the Bandimere Speedway Fan Guide
With a new team, new vision, and new outlook for 2022, Leah Pruett and the TSR team are aiming for big expectations in their debut season.
Featuring the Dodge Power Brokers, it’s never been a better time to be involved with the power and programs that Dodge showcases, says Pruett.
“It’s a phenomenal time to be involved with Dodge and Mopar. Hearing from fans how they love their Dodge Challenger or Charger and would love to upgrade and give their baby even more power—Dodge heard that. They created the place to go get it with the Dodge Power
The Dodge Power Brokers silver paint is a nod to the classic, triple-nickel paint from Dodge lining down both the TSR Funny Car and Top Fuel machines. That new paint scheme will rocket down the quarter-mile at the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High NHRA Nationals here in Denver in July and will look to take on the competitive nature that owner Stewart bleeds. Pruett says Stewart's desire to win and competitive fire is truly unmatched, and his ability to get the best out of his team while working with them is a trait she’s never seen before.
“We put the motorhome outside at the race shop and lived in it in the offseason so he could be there every day, and those guys on the team saw that. Tony knew how important morale was right away, more so than just people subscribing to, I want to race for Tony Stewart.’ The difference is that our atmosphere at TSR is racing with Tony Stewart, and what that’s like is something I’ve never seen before. Tony isn’t the leader by dragging people around; he’s the leader by wanting to race with other qualified individuals that have a value that he might not have, and he sees that.”
Stewart’s addition has certainly been a lightning rod for excitement for the NHRA and mainly because of the competitive fire he brings sets him apart. From afar, there are two things on Tony’s mind: winning and winning. And that edge is very refreshing for the NHRA.
“There has been a void for a long time—at least in my generation—of racers and team owners and racers and what I’ve been exposed to, and it’s really been missing that pure undeniable, unequivocal, racer mentality at every degree. For somebody to be in the space and priority number one, above all, is what it takes to win.”
The man hopefully lighting the win light for TSR in Funny Car is Matt Hagan, not only helping shape Pruett into the driver she is, but becoming an important pillar to TSR.
“We have got this fantastic, I consider, brother-sister friendship. I’ve never had a brother before so he’s been the one who always has my back. He always wants nothing but the best and we work great together. We have phone conversations and he’s a very intelligent individual. We talk a lot about business…he’s truly a very important pillar of the organization, more than just being behind the wheel of the TSR Funny Car.”
Pruett’s always been a competitive racer and that competitive edge may be taken to the next level in 2022 under TSR. But her roots are always something she never forgets as Bandimere Speedway is a special place to her via her Jr. Dragster career many years ago.
While racing junior dragsters, Pruett participated in the Western Conference Finals, a regional event for Jr. Dragsters and kids to compete at the highest level for an NHRA Wally. It's an event that happens to be returning to Bandimere Speedway after an eight-year hiatus this June.
“I think the better part of my life there wasn’t something bigger, better, badder, or more important than making it to the Jr. Western Conference Finals. Everything that I do today in the Top Fuel ranks has roots placed within Bandimere Speedway and the Jr. Dragster Western Conference Finals, and I just really hope that the Jr. kids look at it and understand that it is one of the coolest times to meet up with your friends across the country that you only see once or twice a year that truthfully become friends for life. The time and money spent by your parents to get you there is out of love, and I just hope people have as great of an experience as I did.“