Thursday, May 23, 2024

Footbraking Phenom Completes Three-peat


The Summit National Championship in Pomona for most Bracket racers is a bucket list item that most hope to one day cross off. Each year thousands of bracket racers across the country line up on the starting line ready to do battle in hopes of winning enough white time slips to claim the crown of Champion at the Summit ET Finals. In the NHRA South Central Division 4, there is one driver that likes to swap feet no matter the class and has crossed this accomplishment off his bucket list three times.


Excitement and tears of joy filled Jake Howard’s wife’s eyes as she witnessed her husband reach the pinnacle of his 2018 race season as well as his racing career for that matter. All his hard work and dedication had paid off for the third year in a row after a phenomenal showing at the Texas Motorplex for Team Ardmore Dragway. This was not the first time that he had won the Summit ET Finals in Division 4. This was the third year in a row that he had won a footbrake class since 2016.

But 2018 was different as he went undefeated and claimed the championship in both footbrake classes, Pro ET and Sportsman. Leaving the rest of the division with the question for 2019, can anyone defeat Jake Howard? For now, only time will tell and surely there will be a bounty on his head next year because when it comes to the Summit ET Finals, he has proven to be unstoppable.

Jake and Michelle Howard at the NHRA Division 4 Awards Banquet
Jake Howard with wife, Michelle, at the NHRA Division 4 Awards Banquet


Before this phenomenal weekend full of celebration and victories, things did not always come easy to Howard as he had to overcome some hurdles to get to where he is now. After winning his first ET Finals in 2016, tragedy struck his racing operation when he witnessed his motor blow up in April of 2017. Based on the cost to repair this would be a season-ender for the 1976 Pontiac Trans Am or “Fireturd” as he likes to call it. Howard and his infamous Pontiac went together like PB&J, as he proudly built the car with his dad when he was only 14.

Fortunately for Howard, while the Fireturd was out of commission the racing community stepped up and he was able to continue to race during the 2017 season. Not appearing to miss a beat this wasn’t much a setback for him as he claimed his second Summit ET Finals win in the Sportsman class.

jake howard dominates at lone star summer shootout
The infamous Fireturd after a successful Lone Star Summer Shootout

Dream Season

Then in 2018 his partner in crime Fireturd was back on the track and ready to do battle after many nights thrashing to get the car back together over the off-season. Their dominance continued like they had never parted, as he raced through the field at Tommy Phillip’s Lone Star Summer Shootout in June. He won the Lucas Oil Exclusive 32 No Box class and then continued to footbrake against electronics cars all the way to the winner circle of the SDPC Race Shop Main Event. Along with many winner circles to follow Howard then went on to win two NHRA Summit ET Finals and completed the Trifecta by winning the IHRA Summit Team Finals at Xtreme Raceway Park.

When asked how it felt to win two ET finals classes in the same year, he replied with “there’s no significance. Just good to reap the rewards when an opportunity presents itself”. Howard has proven through all his success to be a class act as he stays humble, always thanking those that have helped him along the way and learning to just appreciate each win as they happen.

Jake Howard 2018 wallys driver of the year trohpies
Hardware from the NHRA Division 4 Awards Banquet

Just Don’t Suck

After winning four NHRA Summit ET Finals and one IHRA Summit Team Finals in three years, some racers might be wondering what is the secret to Jake Howard’s success? Could it be a pair of lucky underwear? Or it must be the gold wheels and blinder made from a piece of a Shiner beer case. If you ask him, he will tell you “just don’t suck”.

He will also tell you that concentration and preparation are key and that he tries to do the best he can every time he pulls into the waterbox. Over the past several years, Howard has proven what a little concentration, preparation and doing your best every time you pull to the starting line can accomplish.

For more on Jake Howard, click here.

Paige Hamlin South Central Drag Racing

About the Author: Paige Hamlin is the founder of South Central Drag Racing and Big Check Bracket Racing. Through her sites, Paige works to promote big money drag racing events. In addition to her media endeavors, Paige enjoys footbrake racing in her S-10 pickup.

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