Footbrake racer Ernie Humes is in the racer spotlight!
Troutman, NC- Ernie Humes has been racing since 2008 but has been around the racetrack since he was a kid. He grew up watching his mother and father race at their local tracks before he decided to hop behind the wheel of his 1972 Dodge Demon, the same car he races now.
Along with racing, Humes is also an avid slot car racer during the off season. His father owns and operates a slot car track, so he tends to spend most of his free time over there. It’s not surprising to see a winner’s circle picture from a slot car race on Ernie’s Facebook feed on a Sunday night.
DragChamp tracked down Ernie to learn more about his racing career.
Learn more about him in the following Q&A.
DragChamp Racer Spotlight with Ernie Humes
How long have you been racing?
I started in 2008 in Footbrake with the red Demon I drive now so this will be year number 13.
How did you get introduced to the sport?
Through my parents. My dad raced when I was really young then when we moved to North Carolina in 1998, my mom started racing so my dad hung up the helmet for a while and was pretty much the crew chief for her. So, I have been around drag racing my whole life.
Which class or classes do you compete in? Where do you normally race? Provide a little history of your career.
I started out in footbrake in 2008 and have competed in that ever since. We put a powerglide in my car in 2016 so I could start running some top bulb stuff so now I compete in both classes. The main tracks I race at are Farmington Dragway and Piedmont Dragway, but I hit a lot of other tracks throughout the year.
Other tracks I visit multiple times a year are Virginia Motorsports Park, Darlington Dragway, Mooresville Dragway, Rockingham Dragway, Galot Motorsports Park, Elk Creek Dragway and Bristol Dragway to name a few. We have so many tracks less than 4 hours away so there is always somewhere to go.
Tell us about your current race car. How long have you owned it, chassis builder, engine, drivetrain, how fast does it run, etc.
My current race car and my go to is my 1972 Dodge Demon. My dad bought it in 1989 so it has been in the family longer than I have. It is a ladder bar car that is still all steel with full interior. The engine in it is a 426 cubic inch small block Mopar. It has a powerglide transmission in it with 1.80 straight cuts and a dana 60 with a 488-rear gear. The tires on it are Hoosier all around with the 30-10.5 radial on the back. The quickest I have been with it is somewhere around 6.35 at 106 mph but most of the year it runs mid 6.40s.
Last year my buddy Carson Robbins and I also added a white mustang to the stable. It is well known since it was formerly owned by Lucas Walker and has seen many winner’s circle pictures. It runs 5.80s at 119 and is definitely a lot of fun to drive. It likes to air out the front tires and is a nasty consistent ride.
Please list your major racing accomplishments.
- 2010 Footbrake Track Champion at Farmington
- 2010 Footbrake Track Champion at Piedmont
- Won the 2010 IHRA Division 9 bracket finals at Farmington in Mod
- Won a 5k in Footbrake at the Fall Footbrake Frenzy at Coastal Plains raceway (2010)
- 2012 Footbrake Track Champion at Farmington
- 2012 Carolina Coalition Footbrake Champion
- 2014 Footbrake Track Champion at Farmington
- 2016 Carolina Coalition Footbrake Champion
- 2016 Footbrake Track Champion at Piedmont
- Won a 13k in Footbrake at the Money Tree Triple 10’s at Motor Mile Dragway and also won the weekend points championship (2016)
- Won a 5k in Footbrake at the Fall Footbrake Frenzy at Piedmont and also won the weekend points championship (2016)
- 2017 Top Eliminator Track Champion at Farmington
- Won Top Eliminator and Footbrake in the same day at Farmington Dragway (2017)
- Runner up in a 15k in Footbrake at the Loose Rocker Colonial Classic at VMP (2017)
- 2018 Footbrake Track Champion at Farmington
- Won a 20k Top Bulb Race at the Money Tree Triple 20k’s at Farmington (2018)
- 2019 Top Eliminator Champion at Piedmont
- 2019 Carolina Coalition Footbrake Champion
- Won the 40k Main Event at the Loose Rocker Bigfoot 40k Footbrake Race (2019)
- Runner up in a 10k in Footbrake at the Loose Rocker St. Patrick’s Classic at VMP (2019)
What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?
A few of my goals are to win a World Footbrake Challenge event, I have lost in the semis multiple times but would like to check that one off the list. I would like a win a Fling event because that is a very prestigious race. I also got close to that accomplished but kicked it .002 red in the semis last year of a 30k. I would like to win a world championship one day and would also like to check the 20k Saturday main event off at the Fall Footbrake Frenzy at Piedmont. That race has a ton of history behind it and I remember growing up that it meant a lot to win that race.
What is your favorite race car, and why?
The Demon that I drive. It has been battle tested and proven. It has been in my family my whole life and we have a lot of great memories together. Plus, you don’t see many Demons around so it’s cool to have something different.
Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?
I would say who kick started my success on the track would be Chris Plott. Most people in the bottom bulb world know that name and know how dominate he was in the 2000s and pretty much his whole career. When I started racing in 2008, who else would you want telling you pointers and how stuff is going to happen on the track before you have to see it for yourself. You still have to figure out your own style and what to do in certain situations, but it helped a lot having someone like that behind me.
Off the track I have to say that my Dad has had the biggest impact on my racing. He is the one that has been next to the Demon since day 1 and keeps it going. Dad loves racing just as much if not even more than I do. He is the one that has made the Demon as good as it is with following through on my ideas and making sure I’m setup for the most success when I get to the track.
Who do you look up to in the sport?
There are a lot of people to look up to in this sport that have had a lot of success and made careers from something they love. Two of the guys that stick out to me is Luke Bogacki and Peter Biondo.
Neither one need an introduction. I look up to Luke because what he has achieved on the track with everything he has won and off the track by being able to take something we all love and have a passion for and make a living off of it. That would be a dream come true.
Peter is just Peter. He can take any amount of time off and come back and knock out a 50k like it is nothing. He has won pretty much everything there is to win in drag racing. I admire everything he has won and how much success he has achieved as a promotor with the fling events. Peter and Kyle have built a great thing which is why they are selling out 400 car caps in 2 minutes.
Tell us what you do for a living?
I am a Solidworks designer for a company called Protech Mechanical. I use a program called Solidworks to 3D design parts and fixtures and turn them into shop drawings so the fabrication shop can make the finished product.
How do you support your racing, side hustle, sponsor, partner, etc.?
My Dad is the main person that keeps our racing going. He owns A-1 Mobile Marine which is why you always hear them announce that on the mic when I race. He does everything and anything he can to make sure the Demon is in tip top shape and going down the racetrack.
Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?
Luckily, I don’t have to race with him a lot, but I would say Adam Davis. I think I beat him the first time we ever raced but I haven’t turned a win light on against him since. We probably have only raced a handful of times but no matter what I lay down, he always is a little bit better. He is a bad dude behind the wheel.
What’s the hardest part of drag racing?
I would say the hardest part of drag racing is staying consistent every pass. The competition gets tighter or harder every year and doesn’t really leave you much room to slip up, make a mistake and get away with it.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?
I don’t recall a certain time but probably taking a pile on a faster car to break out .001 is the worst.
What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?
I’m not really one of the people that talks to themselves before I stage but if I do from time to time then it’s probably “Don’t suck”.
What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?
The racing of course but a close second would be hanging out with friends between rounds and after the race. That makes a race a lot more fun when my friends are there to hang out with.
Are you superstitious? If so, what are they?
The main thing I am superstitious about that I know of is $50 bills. Ever since my buddy Michael Paschal told me that they were bad luck a few years ago, I don’t accept $50 bills. If I do get one, I spend it as soon as possible. I’m sure there is other stuff I am superstitious about and don’t realize it.
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
I would say a little of both. No one likes to lose, and it feels really good when you win. Although in drag racing, we lose a lot more races than we win so you have to enjoy any win that you can get. I just get aggravated with myself when I do something dumb to lose the round which happens quite often.
Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?
I would say I’m better at the finish line than I am up front.
What motivates you to continue racing?
The drive to continue to get better and be the best I can be.
If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like? Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc.
I would have a nice toterhome and a stacker. I would have the Demon and another door car in it with a golf cart and just travel to new tracks and big races. I would still support my local programs and tracks too because that’s where it all started. I would get a 3-car stacker so that one of my friends can tag along if they wanted to.
How often do you use a practice tree?
Nowhere near as much as I should. I maybe make 10-20 hits a month on it.
What is your daily driver?
A 2014 Chrysler 200. I had to get something good on gas, but I still opted for the 6 cylinder option so it could get out of its own way. It has been entered in a few races and runs around 9.80s in the 1/8.
Where do you spend the most time on the internet?
Either on Youtube watching old racing videos on Motor Mania or getting stuck in the Facebook world.
Besides racing, what do you do in your free time?
My dad owns and operates a slot car track, so we spend a lot of time over there. We race 2 days a week in the summer months and a little bit more in the winter. I travel around some in the winter doing that on weekends. I also hang out with friends and sometimes go do whatever random sport we are into at that time.
What are you really good at?
I don’t think I’m really good at anything, so I asked 2 of my friends. One of them said “slot cars” and the other one said “drag racing and being a bad dude”. I guess we will go with that.
Name one thing most people don’t know about you?
I graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering Technology.
Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?
I would say a quiet evening at home unless I’m at a race then I’m known to hang out and it’s hard to get me to leave sometimes.
What’s your favorite thing to eat? Individual item, meal, or restaurant?
I’m going to go with Hibachi. We eat it sometimes after a race and it’s always really good. I’m lucky there isn’t a good one close to me or I would be there all the time.
Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?
There are a few people that help me out some besides my Dad who plays the biggest role in my racing and helps me out way more than I can ever thank him for.
Kevin Wideman at Wideman Motorsports, Randy Scheuer at APD, Wayne Rogers at Roger’s Automotive, David Stebner at Dave’s One Stop Shop, Champ at Champ’s Performance, Scott Macy at Macy’s Automotive, Hoosier Racing Tires, Lucas Walker at Walker Automotive, Tim Cowick at Majestic Automotive and whoever else I may have forgot.
Thank you all for playing a role in my racing.
About the author: Megan Strassweg is a 22 year old Super Comp racer from Louisville, Kentucky. She races a 2015 American Dragster sponsored by Coolshirt Systems. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May of 2020 with a degree in Photojournalism and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Megan works at Jim Butner Auto in the Finance Department. Growing up at the racetrack, drag racing is all she has known and never plans to give up on it.