DragChamp Racer Spotlight with Justin Wanamaker

Bracket racer Justin Wanamaker is in the DragChamp spotlight!

Justin Wanamaker of Kalamazoo, MI has been drag racing for around 15 years. Like a lot of sportsman racers, Justin was introduced to the sport by his father at an early age.

Drag Champ Logo

Now Justin is introducing his kids to the sport with the oldest two already racing Juniors and another waiting in the wings. In addition to Justin and his children, his father, brother, and two nieces also compete regularly.

When he has the chance, Justin loves to jump behind the microphone and do some announcing, a skill that he’s passing along to his son Jace as well.

You can learn more about Justin in his DragChamp Q&A.

DragChamp Racer Spotlight with Justin Wanamaker

How did you get introduced to the sport?

I was raised at the racetrack, and pretty much my Dad’s shadow anytime he was working on the racecar. He taught me a lot about working on every part of the car.

My whole childhood revolved around racing, we raced Hotwheels, bikes, sleds, rubber band powered LEGO cars… you name it we raced it.

All of that culminated when I got to start racing my dad’s car when I was 19.

Justin winners circle with kids

Which class do you normally compete in and where do you normally race?

I run in Modified at my local track US 131 Motorsports Park. I really like big money No-Box races too.

Tell us about your current race car.

My car is a ’27 Roadster with a 383 SBC. I’ve had it for six years and it has gone through some major changes since I got it! I first raced it with a 360 Mopar that ran 9.70s in the 1/4.

Three years ago I went to the dark side, and I’m pretty sure I was written out of my dad’s will, and built a small block Chevy for it.

Wanamaker roadster

My wife isn’t thrilled with me going fast so we were shooting for 9.50s and if we screwed up and made too much power and ran 9.20s it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

The first pass after I shook it down it ran 8.78, and with a little tuning it’s gone 8.60.

Click here to see our Racer Spotlight with Dalton Lummus!

Please list your major racing accomplishments.

  • 2005 $5K No-Box win
  • 2008 IHRA D5 Summit Super Series champion
  • 2009 Modified Track Champion and Summit Super Series track champ
  • 2015 No Box Nationals $5K runner up
  • 2019 Bottom Bulb Bash $5K runner up and $5K winner

What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?

I would love another shot at the Summit Super Series Championship, and I’ve gotta win at the World Footbrake Challenge.

Justin Wanamaker DragChamp

What is your favorite race car, and why?

I love the SS/AH cars!

Tell us what you do for a living?

I’m a Journeyman Pipeline Welder for a utility company.

How do you support your racing? Side hustle, sponsor, partner, etc.?

Overtime! I have a couple sponsors that help out a lot! Fibers of Kalamazoo, Elite Fuels and Lubricants

Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?

My closest friend Kevin Groenveld, he doesn’t leave much room to get inside of. Whatever is on his dial-in board is what the car is running and he’s no slouch on the tree either.

What’s the hardest part of drag racing?

Not overthinking the starting line.

What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?

That’s a good one! I once was caught up in points and making bracket finals. I footbrake all the time, this particular first round instead of going down on the gas pedal I pulled my foot and then went to the wood… needless to say I was not stellar and didn’t win the round.

Wanamaker Dodge

What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?

Let’s do this thing!

What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?

I really enjoy the competition and camaraderie.

Are you superstitious? 

No not really, although I do follow a routine pretty closely.

Do you love to win or hate to lose?

I love to win!

Justin Wanamaker and kids

Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?

That varies, normally i would say finish line but lately the starting line has been treating me pretty good.

What motivates you to continue racing?

The drive to keep improving something, whether it be my driving or the car.

If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like? 

I would definitely have a bigger motorhome and a stacker. My kids would have brand new Jr.’s and I would have to have a Pennington roadster. We would hit the road chasing big money races and maybe even try my hand at Super Gas.

How often do you use a practice tree?

Rarely during racing season, I’m afraid it will throw me off in the car

What is your daily driver?

2017 Ram

Favorite movie or TV show?

If there isn’t a live stream big money race on, I like Last Man Standing.

Justin Wanamaker Bristol

Favorite music, artist?

Depends on my mood, I like everything from Christian music to Country and early 2000’s alternative rock. I even get down to some 90’s rap lol.

Where do you spend the most time on the internet?

Probably Facebook and live streamed races.

What is your favorite sport?  Favorite team?

I’m not a big sports fan but I enjoy watching Michigan Football and Basketball.

Besides racing, what do you do in your free time?

Free time? What’s that? I co-host a podcast with the announcer at US 131 about the track. We try to camp occasionally, my kids are all involved with sports and I like watching them play.

What are you really good at?

That’s a tough one, I think I’m pretty good at problem solving.

Name one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’m a very picky eater.

Wanamaker junior dragsters

Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?

Definitely a crowd!

What’s your favorite thing to eat? 

I really like steak, but I like to cook it myself. I also love seafood and BBQ.

Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?

Hang on this one could get lengthy. First off my wife Kim for supporting this crazy thing we do every weekend.

My Dad for teaching me how to work on cars and how to race.

My father-in-law for helping out so much at the track, especially with the kids racing.

Kevin, Stan, Al, Tracy, Roy, Monte, Marc, Chris, I’m sure I’m forgetting someone.

Justin Wanamaker Roadster

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