Friday, May 24, 2024

Eric Tenney: Moving to the Top

Successful footbrake racer Eric Tenney moves to Top E.T.

After years of success racing off the bottom bulb, third generation racer Eric Tenney changed directions going into the 2017 season.  The successful footbrake competitor slid a trans-brake and delay box into his trusty ’69 Dodge Dart in preparation for top bulb competition.  Tenney, a senior software engineer, quickly adapted to top bulb racing.  In just his first season, he collected Top E.T. wins and top five points finishes at multiple tracks.

At the season-ending 2017 IHRA Division 1 Bracket Finals Tenney captured the Top E.T. championship.  The win, one of the biggest of his career, showcased his abilities on the top bulb.  At one point during the race, Tenney used a .001-package to defeat his opponent’s .002-package.

Tenney admitted, “the learning curve with adjusting your delay for the different times of the day and different tracks” proved to be his biggest challenge in switching from footbrake to top bulb competition.

Where it all started

After growing up in the sport, his father and grandfather have raced for decades, Tenney jumped into a Jr. Dragster at the age of 8.  The competition and experience in the Jr. Dragster class honed his driving skills in preparation of moving to the big cars.  By the time he was of legal driving age, Tenney had amassed a wealth of experience which he used to fuel his success in footbrake and top bulb competition.

Eric Tenney with Clay Millican at 2018 IHRA World Finals Memphis Tenn
Eric Tenney with Clay Millican – 2018 IHRA World Finals

The Winning Continues

At just 31-years-old, Tenney has earned multiple track championships.  In 2018, he won the Top E.T. track championship at Capitol Raceway to add to his collection.  In addition, Tenney earned a top five points finish at Cecil Country Dragway in 2018.

With the race season shortened by continual rain-outs, Tenney fought hard to finish the season on top, stating “I was hoping to remain the points leader because the track champion at Capitol Raceway pays $5,000 and a gold card for the following season.  Not to mention being invited to the IHRA World Finals in Memphis to compete for a World Championship.”

With the championship secured, Tenney finished the season with a big $5,000 win.  According to Tenney, “It was rewarding to validate my track championship by winning the final big money race and IHRA Ironman of the season at Capitol Raceway.”  For the second straight year Tenney earned a trip to the IHRA World Finals in Memphis.  While he didn’t win the event, he made rounds and met Top Fuel racer Clay Millican, see photo above.

Eric Tenney IHRA Ironman Trophy
Eric Tenney wins IHRA Ironman – Capitol Raceway

The Dart

The super-clean 1969 Dodge Dart Tenney currently campaigns has proven to be a versatile hot rod.  With an all-steel factory body and full interior, the back-halfed Dart could easily pass for a Super Stock ride.  Powered by a small block Dodge 428 W2 motor, paired with a BTE Racing Top Sportsman powerglide and converter, the Dart easily dips into the low 10-second range in the quarter-mile while turning consistent 6.40 E.T.’s in the eighth mile.

Although he’s enjoyed two successful seasons racing on the top bulb, Tenney still enters the car in footbrake competition stating, “everything that’s electronic is hooked up with plugs that make it easy to take out.  Most of the time, I will double enter my car and run both classes, top and bottom.”

It takes a team

In order to compete in two classes with the same car, Tenney relies on a team of supporters.  The Tenney Motorsports team includes his wife, Andrea, and parents, David and Shelia.  Additional support comes from BTE Racing, CLK Kustoms, CAS Structural Engineering, Inc., Maryland Performance Specialties, and Shady Dell Speed Shop.

Looking forward to 2019, Tenney plans to race locally while attending big money bracket races along the East Coast.  If history is any indication, we’ll find Eric Tenney at the top in 2019!


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