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DragChamp Racer Spotlight with Bart Nelson

LA PORTE, TX – Thirty-one years ago, Bart Nelson began his charge in his drag racing career while competing in a 1971 Dodge Challenger with a 383 that he had in high school. Street racing was what they did back in the day.

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In 1992, Nelson realized that there was a new dragstrip that opened in Baytown so him and his brother Larry decided to go check it out… they never left. They built their first car together in 1993 and the rest is history. 

Nelson started with bracket racing a door car, which led to Super Gas, then Super Comp, then Super Street, and now back to bracket racing dragsters. Houston Raceway Park has always been his home track.

Bart Nelson

A 2015 American Dragster is now Nelson’s weapon of choice. He has owned it since May 2018. 

“The guy I bought it from was afraid of it and had just put it in car shows,” he laughed. The engine is a BBC 598 on methanol built by Bruce at USA Racing Engines. The transmission Is FTI and is maintained by Lyndon Rutland at Rutland Transmissions. 

Bart Nelson’s Racing Accomplishments:

Bart and Blair

•          Winning on the same day with my daughter Blair 2 times

•          1994 Track Champion in my first Year of a full season of Bracket racing at HRP

•          1999 – won his first national event in Super Gas against Super gas Elite Gary Risk

•          2007 National Event Win (Super comp) Against Shawn Langdon at Dallas 

•          2008 NHRA Bracket Finals winner in Super Pro

•          2008 NHRA National Super Pro Champion in Pomona

•          2010 My First $20K Winner at Gulfport Raceway 

Bart Nelson

•          2012 IHRA (Hot Rod) Divisional Champion 

•          NHRA (Super Gas) Div 4. JEGS Allstars 2010

•          2018 $20k winner and semifinalist in Box at Twincity Thanksgiving race 

•          Texas Motorplex (Super Comp) Winner in new dragster

Nelson’s main goal is to just stay competitive to the point where he can still feel confident that he can win every time he pulls in the gate. The bracket racing world is an everchanging beast, so that is one good goal to have!

He also wants to win a Million Dollar Race – but who doesn’t?

I Freaking Missed the Round”

Every racer always has that one thing dwindling in the back of their head that would be the absolute worst to do to make them lose a round. Unfortunately, Nelson’s was worse than you would think.

“We were at the NHRA double divisional racing in Super Comp in 2019. It was the first Division 4 race and it was going really well. I’m actually having some luck. I told Dad, “How can I screw this up?” So, I’m down to six cars, sitting on the bye to the finals side of the ladder. I should just stop here! We were just hot lapped the round before. NHRA had made the announcement for Alcohol dragsters and Funny Cars along with Comp and both Top Sportsman and Top Dragster to come to the lanes. So, I went to the front of staging to confirm and it was so. I then decided to go help a friend in need on his motor, to get it ready for the 2nd divisional race. But little did I know, they had called Super Comp back up with 3 other sportsman classes! So I’m eating this salad as cars are going down the track not knowing it was super comp.. I Freaking Missed the Round. The one nightmare I’ve always had since I started racing. And it happened to me.. WTH. See, I told Dad, “How can I screw this up?” Well, there it is!” 

There is a good finish to the story. I was so upset with what I had done, I told dad I was gonna make the racers that line up with me on the second Divisional pay for my mistake. We won the second race in my new Amercian Dragster. That is what I really wanted – to have a Divisional win and a Wally in every vehicle I’ve competed with in super racing!

Check out the following Q&A for a few more facts about Bart Nelson.

What is your favorite race car, and why?

Man that tough. I did really well in my Pontiac Astre, but most my big dollar winnings were in the ‘99 Mullis. But I have to say the Astre. It was way more fun to drive and really got a lot of attention everywhere we went.    

Nelson’s Pontiac Astre

Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?

That would be my wife, Beth. She always supported me good or bad throughout my career. Never complaining about all the out-of-town weekends gone racing. I couldn’t imagine not having that kind of support from your spouse. 

Who do you look up to in the sport?

Early on that would be Ricky Hughes and Tommy Costales. Later, that changed when we started traveling. Tommy Phillips was the super class guy that really seemed to have strategies to this kind of racing. I’ll just say we have had conversation over the years discussing racing, but my best understanding of the strategies came from the view of him in the other lane.

Tell us what you do for a living?

I own a Full Service Plumbing Company, American Plumbing And Maintenance, in La Porte, TX. I started the company in 1989.

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

Well, I used to support it fairly well with race winnings. But that hasn’t been the case of late. I have always had other avenues to help pay. I’ve helped many people through the years setting up suspension on their cars, to building and repairing carburetors. My brother and I were the track reps for DaVinci Carburetors in the early 2000’s. After that dissolved, David Cook and I still take care of a lot of customers. 

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

Anyone under the age of 35

What’s the hardest part of drag racing?

At this age for me is all the prep work to keep the car, tow vehicles and such ready to go. Also, the late-night racing into the wee hours of the morning. Staying competitive is hard too.

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

I try to focus on what I can control and no negative thoughts. Mostly I just repeat my name several times to focus on me and not the other racer. 

What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?

The people I have met all across this county. And the thing I most enjoy is having my Dad there to make the memories with!

Do you love to win or hate to lose? 

Both. I’m a pretty good sport when it comes to losing. I have to be, because I get a lot of practice.

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

I think that I’m decent on both ends of the track. I’ll make adjustment to my driving if I’m having issues with one end or the other.

What motivates you to continue racing?

The win lights.

Bart Nelson with his wife, Beth, and daughter, Blair

How often do you use a practice tree? 

Often during race season and always at track before I head up for the next round

Favorite movie or TV show? 

Sanford and son

Favorite music, artist? 

Rock and country

Where do you spend the most time on the internet? 

In office at work

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

Mainly spend time with my wife and grandkids

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

I crashed my first race car that I had just won the championship in 1994. It was a Wednesday night at a HRP gamblers race. I put it over the wall at the finish line, totally destroying the car and put me in the hospital for a few day in summer of ’95.

What’s your favorite thing to eat?  Individual item, meal, or restaurant? 

Mexican food.

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

Man, there has been so many over the years and different times of my career. But, to name a few:

  • My dad mostly who travels everywhere with me and my wife, Beth for letting me chase dreams 
  • Tommy Costales and Jeff at Houston Engine and Balancing
  • Jimmy Arabie at Arabie Transmisions
  • Ricky Hughes
  • Tommy Phillips
  • Lloyd Parfait
  • Donny Burleson
  • David Cook
  • Lyndon Rutland at Rutland Transmisions
  • Bruce and Randy at USA Racing Engine
  • Ron at Pyle Bros 
Megan Strassweg
Megan Strassweg

Megan Strassweg is a 24 year old Super Comp racer from Louisville, Kentucky. She races a 2015 American Dragster with a 648 Oakley Motorsports Engine. Growing up at the racetrack, drag racing is all she has known and never plans to give up on it. Megan works with TB Promotions in promoting their races and keeping entries straight, as well as keeping their social media pages updated.

You can reach Megan on Facebook or email at megan@dragchamp.com

You can reach Megan on Facebook or email at megan@dragchamp.com

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