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Wyatt “Big Poppa” Palmatier: Jr DragChamp Racer Spotlight

This week’s DragChamp Jr. Racer Spotlight is all about Florida based racer, Wyatt “Big Poppa” Palmatier.

Featured photo by Lou Crouch

DELAND, FL- Wyatt “Big Poppa” Palmatier has been racing Junior Dragsters for the past 8 years. He started driving when he was 8-years-old but has technically been in race car since he was in his mother’s womb. Wyatt comes from a family of racers dating back to his Grandpa “Pops” who first started racing at the Hollywood Dragway in the early 1970s. His mom began racing in 2000, and his Dad started racing in 2005. As soon as him and his older brother, Maverick turned 8-years-old, they began Junior Drag Racing and have been racing ever since.

Wyatt currently races in the Advanced Junior Dragster class but as soon as he turned 16, he also started running Super Pro/ Box and No Box/ Footbrake.

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Wyatt’s Race Cars

Wyatt currently owns a Junior Dragster and an S10. His Junior Dragster is a 2020 Mike Bos with a Craws 3 ¾ motor onboard which powers him to run 7.90s. His S10 is powered by SBC 434 backed with a FTI transmission, converter and a Strange rear end. It runs 5.80 in good weather and 5.90’s in the heat no matter if it is off the button or foot.

Outside of Racing

When Wyatt isn’t at the racetrack, he can be found hunting, fishing, or working at his Dad’s construction company. He spends most of his time on the internet on JEGS or Amazon and his favorite music artists are Hank Williams Jr. or Notorious B.I.G. His favorite movies are Talladega Nights and Blues Brothers 2000. One thing people don’t know about Wyatt is that he used to hate seeing pictures of himself as a toddler with a mullet.

Wyatt "Big Poppa" Palmatier

Wyatt’s Accomplishments

  • 2014 South Georgia Motorsports Park 11.90 Track Champion
  • 2015 NHRA Eastern Conference Finals Quarter-Finalist
  • 2015 NHRA Division 2 Bracket Finals Runner-up
  • 2015 Race of Champions winner
  • 2017 11-year-old NHRA Eastern Conference Finals Champion
  • 2017 King and Queen Showdown 8.90 Champion at Silver Dollar Motorsports Park
  • 2018 Mike Bos Practice Tree race winner and won a new Junior Dragster
  • 2019 Friday Night Gamblers winner at Kids Rule Weekend at Silver Dollar Motorsports Park
  • 2019 Saturday Index Runner-up at Kids Rule Weekend at Silver Dollar Motorsports Park
  • 2020 Huddleston Performance 32-Car Shootout winner
  • 2020 Index runner-up at Eastern and Western Conference Finals
  • 2020 Halloween Spooktacular Index Runner-up
  • First racer to win a Junior race at Charlotte Motorsports Park in 2020
  • 2020 Back to School Race winner
  • 2021 Back to School Race winner
  • 2022 Back to School Index race winner
  • 2021 Halloween Spooktacular Index Runner-up
  • 2022 Halloween Spooktacular Mike Bos 64-car Shootout for new Junior Dragster
  • 10x Wally Winner
  • Fourth member of FTI Farm Team
  • Winner of numerous points races at South Georgia Motorsports Park, Orlando Speed World Dragway and Gainesville Raceway 

Wyatt’s Q&A

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

I’d like to go racing for a full year and run all the big money stuff like the Spring Fling, all the millions, and all the SFG stuff and all the big money footbrake races and win the OG million and the Spring Fling Million. And I’d like to win a world championship in either Super Comp or Super Gas. 

What is your favorite race car, and why? 

My favorite race cars are either an S10 you can ride out nice wheelies or a roadster because they just look cool.  

Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success? 

My parents because they have taught me everything I know and do so much to make sure my brother and I have the best equipment and the best opportunities to be the best person and driver we can be.

Who do you look up to in the sport? 

My Pops because he is one of the best race car drivers I’ve watched and has driven the wheels off all his race cars threw out the years since he’s started racing till now and he didn’t let age get to him because he could hang with young guys and still be turning on win light. And whenever I need some advice on something or want to make a change to something I ask him, and he tells me what the right thing to do is. And also, my brother cause he has helped me a lot and is a great driver.

Tell us what you do for a living? 

I just drive a race car and work for my dad’s construction company as a labor/mechanic whenever he needs one. 

Wyatt "Big Poppa" Palmatier

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

My mom and dad are the main source of my racing and if I win the money, that will go back into my car or entry fees.

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

I haven’t seen her in the other lane yet, but it will probably be my mom cause if she won, we would have to listen to it for a while, but it would probably be one of the funniest races I’d probably ever have. 

What’s the hardest part of drag racing? 

Probably getting the tree back after losing your spot.  

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

I’ve gotten dropped on my head on MotorMania a couple times.

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

I just run the race through my head one more time and tell myself this is my race to win. Even if I’m having a bad day, I still tell myself I’m about to mess them up no matter who’s in the other lane. 

Wyatt "Big Poppa" Palmatier

What do you enjoy the most at the racetrack? 

All my friends at the racetrack  

Are you superstitious?  If so, what are they? 

I always like to wear my Scooby-Doo socks if I have them in the rig on the big race days.   

Do you love to win or hate to lose? 

Love to win  

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

The finish line because I can make my decisions on that going down track and figure out what I’m going to do and if I’ve killed enough and if I need to kill more. 

What motivates you to continue racing? 

Probably the thought of having my own kids and grandkids to race with one day. 

Wyatt "Big Poppa" Palmatier

If money were no object, what would your racing operation look like?  Car, trailer, class, race schedule, etc. 

I’d have a Show Hauler and a Gold Rush trailer with a loft in it to haul a door car upstairs way up front and then the normal stacker set up. For my cars, I’d have me an all motor 4.30 dragster either built by Miller, American or Maddox to run Box and Super Comp in. A Miller race car roadster to run Super Gas and whatever else I want to in it, that when you take the stop off it will go 4.60. A Super Stock Cobalt. A stocker Camaro that drags the bumper. A 1992 Chevy S10 to footbrake and Top Bulb in that also does big wheelies and a 1982 El Camino that goes like 5.20 and whatever the wife wants whenever I get one. 

How often do you use a practice tree? 

Not much unless I’m bored  

What is your daily driving? 

2002 Ford Excursion with the ole 7.3 under the hood  

What is your favorite sport?  Favorite team? 

Racing is my favorite sport, and my favorite team is Palmatier Enterprise Inc.

What are you really good at? 

Racing, hunting and fishing  

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

Probably a crowd if I know them well  

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

Prime rib and german potatoes from Emmy’s Time Out Tavern  

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

I’d like to thank my parents for all they did for me and my brother. My brother for giving me all the advice he can. Pops for helping me with any questions I got. Grandma for all the snacks to go to the track with. Greg and Phaedra, all the gang at FTI Performance has been helping me out from the beginning. Tom Kundrik for helping me out with anything I need for as long as I can remember. Mike, Mike, Jimmy and Blake and everyone else at Mike Bos for building the best junior dragsters around. Fred Craw for building the best Junior Dragster motor you can get. And last but not least, Blake, Braden and Harrison are a young group of bracket racers that ae experienced and it’s good to be around them because we all help each other be better racers and be better racers and bounce ideas off each other. 

What is a piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring racer? 

Race your own race and never give up or doubt yourself and when people start hating on you that means you’re doing something good, and raise hell and praise dale.  

For more DragChamp Jr. Spotlights, click here.

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