Following one’s dreams is not as easy as it seems.
Jordan Vandergriff, however, has to pinch himself these days because he’s in his first year driving a Top Fuel dragster in NHRA’s Mello Series for his uncle Bob Vandergriff Jr.
“It’s been a dream come true, to tell you the truth. I’m where I always dreamed of being and it really doesn’t feel real,” said Jordan, 24. “I’m having a blast with my guys. My guys are the best guys out here and I know coming out here we have a good car every weekend, I just have to do my job. It’s just weird saying that because I’m a rookie but if I come out here and do my job, we have a good chance to win a race.
“Oh, it’s just as big as I thought it was going to be,” Jordan said about piloting a Top Fuel dragster. “You really can’t imagine what these things feel like until you actually do it. Growing up I had an idea of maybe what it’d be like. It shatters your expectations. It’s really nothing you can anticipate.
“I like to think I’ve matured a little. I think this thing keeps me younger and it is a lot of fun.”
Jordan then took a moment to describe what the rush is like to drive a Top Fuel dragster.
“The rush is just like a lot of adrenaline, that’s really all it is,” he said. “You’re so focused during the burnout, during the staging procedure, during the run you’re really focused so when it really hits you is when you pull the parachutes and you start slowing down. Then it’s kind of like ‘that just happened.’ That’s when I feel it the most. In the shutdown area you are breathing heavy and are like ‘H*ll yeah, that felt good.’ It has been great.
I’ll be going back home and driving on the freeway and someone will be driving like 70 mph and the people next to me are like ‘whoa, that person’s driving fast,’ and I just look at them and go ‘that’s not fast. I feel comfortable right now.’”
Jordan said Bob Vandergriff Racing isn’t scheduled to be at Sonoma, Calif. (July 26-28), and Shawn Reed will drive for BVR at Seattle (Aug. 2-4).
“Shawn’s going to run Seattle and then the next time you see both of us will be in Indy (Aug. 28-Sept. 2). We’ll go to Indy and then the plan as of right now is that I’m going to run every Countdown race except for Charlotte I believe. That’s the plan as of right now. That’s subject to change here but that’s what we’re planning on.”
The learning experience continued last weekend for Vandergriff, racing Denver is a first for him.
“I came here two years ago when my uncle drove this car,” Jordan said. “I came here last year when Blake (Alexander) drove this car. I have never raced an alcohol car here. I’ve never raced here at all. This is one of my favorite races by far. It’s funny. A lot of people don’t like Denver because you have to change so much. I like it because you do. It’s like a specialty race. You come here and you change everything. It’s a fair ballgame for everybody. I think it benefits us.”
Becoming a Top Fuel driver is a path Jordan knew he was going to follow.
“Growing up I played sports,” he said. “It was a dream as a kid to be a professional baseball player but that’s obviously very hard to do and this is not easy to do. But this was always something my family did, and we were always involved in it. It was always a dream of mine. I always wanted to be like my uncle and participate in a business like my dad’s.”
Kevin Vandergriff, Jordan’s father, runs Hedman Hedders.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019