This week’s DragChamp Jr. Racer Spotlight is all about 2021 Southwest Jr. Dragster Series 10-12 Year Old Champion, Carter Poplawski.
MIDLOTHIAN, TX- Carter Poplawski is going into his third season of racing Junior Dragsters this year. He was introduced to the sport of drag racing by watching his Uncle David race his Super Comp Dragster and his Cousin Parker race his Junior Dragster.
In 2021, he was crowned as the Southwest Jr. Dragster Series 10-12 Year Old Champion and the Xtreme Bracket Series Jr Mod Champion.
For the past two years, he has competed in the 8.90 index class in and around the state of Texas. Some of the racetracks he frequents are Xtreme Raceway Park, Houston Raceway Park, Little River Dragway, Pine Valley Dragway, I-30 Dragway, Big Country Raceway, and Alamo Raceway Park. He has also raced at a few tracks in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
Since he began racing, Carter has followed the Southwest Junior Dragster Series and last year, he competed in Xtreme Raceway Park’s Bracket Series. This past year, he also raced in his first NHRA Western Conference Finals.
Carter’s Race Car
They bought his current car from a family in Oklahoma in November 2019; their son was getting out of junior dragster racing. This is the car he has run for the past two years. It is a McPhantom swing arm chassis, powered by a Chris McGee 3×3 8.90 engine. The average speed is typically around 72-73mph in the 1/8 mile.
Carter’s Major Accomplishments
- Mar 6, 2021 First win at XRP Xtreme Bracket Series
- Jun 22, 2021 NHRA Western Conference Finals 8.90 Index Winner
- Jul 25, 2021 Win at XRP Xtreme Bracket Series
- Jul 31, 2021 Southwest Jr. Dragster Series 8.90 Index Winner
- Aug 28, 2021 Qualified for IHRA Summit Super Series World Finals in Memphis
- Sep 5, 2021 IHRA Jr Team Final Winner
- Oct 31, 2021 Southwest Jr Dragster Series 10-12 Age Group Champion
- Dec 4, 2021 XRP Xtreme Bracket Series Jr Mod Champion
Outside of Racing
When Carter isn’t at a racetrack, he enjoys playing Fortnite, watching YouTube videos about famous drag racers, and going camping with friends and family. One thing most people don’t know about him is that he started to learn how to cook and back when he was about 6-7 years old and his favorite meal of the day is breakfast.
What’s on your bucket list, future goals, what do you hope to achieve?
I would like to be a World Drag Racing Champion one day.
What is your favorite race car, and why?
My favorite race car is my new 2022 Half Scale Junior Dragster. With my parents’ support, I was able to help design the build of this car. I’m ready to get it on the track and start learning the feel for it.
Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?
A lot of crew chiefs helped us learn this sport. For that we are very grateful. Gary Foster, he believed in me and encouraged me to do my best every race.
Who do you look up to in the sport?
In this sport I look up to several people: my papa Gary Freeman for his support and knowledge, my Uncle David Freeman for his encouragement and guidance, Gary Don Free for all of the recognition he creates and brings to the sport and all of my junior drag racing friends/competitors.
Tell us what you do for a living?
I am 7th grader at Dieterich Middle School in Midlothian, TX. I don’t know what I want to do for a career yet, but I definitely know I’ll be racing for as long as I can.
How do you support your racing, side hustle, sponsor, partner, etc.?
I help my mom and dad around the house and work on my racecar with them.
Who do you hate to see in the other lane, and why?
My sister, Maddy Poplawski, for her fierce competitiveness! Aside from her, there are many other junior racers that I have feared in the past, after being beat time and time again, but who I now look forward to challenging on the track.
What’s the hardest part of drag racing?
In my opinion, the hardest part of drag racing for me is keeping my dad in line. Kidding…staying consistent on the tree seems to be my Achilles heal lately.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?
While waiting for the final round at a race at I-30, I was caught sleeping in my car. It had been a super long, hot day and I had hit my wall.
What are you saying to yourself just before you stage the car?
GO GREEN Carter, Go Green Carter!!!
What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack?
Spending time with family and racing friends!
Are you superstitious?
I have a routine when I’m in the car, staging, etc. but I’m not really superstitious.
Do you love to win or hate to lose?
A little bit of both. Winning is great, but when I lose, I try my best to understand what went wrong and what I need to do to improve/correct it before the next race.
Which are you better at the starting line or the finish line?
Depends; early in my career I was better at the starting line, but I have quickly learned (from watching/talking to my friends) how to drive the top end.
What motivates you to continue racing?
I like to compete with so many good racers and friends.
If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like? Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc.
I would buy a full-size dragster to race in Super Pro. My car hauler would be a Freightliner Super C with a matching stacker trailer. That combination would tote me around the country for some big money bracket racing.
How often do you use a practice tree?
I use my Pocket Pal about 4 times a week; it’s in my school back-pack, so I can practice in free time; our parents bought my sister and I a mini Port-a-Tree that I also practice on at home.
What is your daily driver?
Most days my mom totes me around in her Telluride!
Favorite movie or TV show?
My all-time favorite move is Home Alone! I also like Outer Banks and Street Outlaws.
Favorite music, artist?
My favorite type of music is Country; Parker McCollum is my favorite artist.
What is your favorite sport?
Drag Racing is my favorite sport
My favorite class of racing to watch is Super Pro.
What are you really good at?
Annoying my sister when she has friends over.
Would you rather hang out with a crowd or have a quiet evening at home?
If it’s racing, I don’t mind being around a bunch of people, but in general I’m not too big on crowds.
What’s your favorite thing to eat? Individual item, meal, or restaurant?
My favorite place to eat at is Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille. Some of my top menu selections would be bacon-wrapped scallops, filet mignon, mac-n-cheese and the Mont Blanc for dessert.
Who would you like to thank, who helps you the most?
Hands down my dad helps me the most with my racing career. My mom does her best to keep us fed and hydrated at the track…when she can catch us! I always wanted a junior dragster once I started seeing them at the track. It was my dream! My parents could tell that I was very passionate about the sport and did everything they could to get me in a junior dragster and they continue to provide me with the best equipment and support!
What is a piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring racer?
Always continue to chase your dreams; understand that you can always learn something from a race and by learning from others.
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