Wally Stroupe failed to qualify for the prestigious U.S. Nationals.
This was Stroupe’s second time racing Pro Stock at the U.S. Nationals the first time coming in 2015.
Although Stroupe didn’t make the field, he’s brimming with optimism about his Pro Stock future.
“I’ve got new sponsors, new power,” Stroupe said. “We’re over at KB Racing now. Now we’re working on the car to make it match their motors. We were with Elite (Motorsports) last year and the first of this year and we just couldn’t get the power we needed. A new sponsor came in (Strutmasters) and I really have to thank them. It took a load off us. He told me to go get some power. I went and got some power. Greg (Anderson) and Jason (Line) have been really good to us. We’re excited. KB’s helping us a bunch. We picked up a bunch. We actually went and tested.”
Stroupe joined forces with KB Racing starting in Chicago May 30-June 2.
“We went and tested with Greg right after Chicago and we went a 6.58, Greg went a 6.52, so I was really happy with that,” Stroupe said. “Since then, we’ve been fighting the car. We had pretty decent air in Darlington (S.C.). Since then we’ve been in junk ever since. So now we’re figuring out what to do with the shocks and the car and tires and stuff like. We made big gains.
“We’re going to finish the season and if everything looks good, he’s on board for next year to go full-time.”
Full-time racing is something Stroupe hasn’t done in 20 years since his IHRA days. Stroupe was a standout IHRA Pro Mod competitor from 1989-99 winning 58 races. Stroupe raced Mountain Motor Pro Stock from 2000-2007.
Stroupe has built race cars for nearly four decades.
“This is a dream come true,” Stroupe said. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do. Only regret is when I got burned in Pro Mod in 1998 down in Bradenton, Fla., and I quit. I was a year out of work and three years of rehab. But it took everything.”
On March 28, 1998, he had a nitrous explosion in his 1963 Corvette during the first round of qualifying at Bradenton, Fla.
“I suffered third-degree burns on my hands and my face,” said Stroupe about the accident. “They actually lost me twice at the race track and they airlifted me to the Tampa burn center and I spent a few days in critical condition there, and I was transferred to Charlotte.
“When we got to Charlotte, I had the same doctor all the NASCAR guys have. He’s a very good doctor and he told me upfront, ‘do what I tell you or you won’t have any hands anymore.’ I did everything that they said. I mean you think because of a burn it wouldn’t matter. Two days after, I couldn’t move anything. They were locked up and he gave me this little balloon with sand in it. He said, ‘squeeze it every day as much as you can take.’ You would think you could do it. You can’t. You have to take this hand and make this hand work and then use this hand to make that hand work. They didn’t do any skin grafts, they let it grow on its own. It took four to six months to get all the skin grown back on and then it was thin as paper. You could actually just take your finger and go across it and it would just come off. I had three years of rehab. I thought a lot about it (not racing again).”
For good reason, Stroupe cheated death.
“The doctors came in and they worked on me two hours in the emergency room,” Stroupe said. “Then, they cleared emergency room out and they called a preacher. He came in and wanted to know if there was anything, he could do for me.”
The presence of the preacher had Stroupe’s full attention.
“That scared the crap out of me because we’re in bad trouble,” Stroupe said. “He started to pray with me, and the doctor came in and said, ‘you’re not supposed to be here.’ I said, ‘what do you mean? In the hospital?’ He said, ‘no. You aren’t supposed to be here. I’ve had people come in half this bad and they’re dead. This wasn’t your time.’ They kept me in critical condition all weekend and Sunday they transferred me to Charlotte. It was no fun. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It changed things. My wife was nine months pregnant with my son. Luckily, she didn’t go to that weekend.”
Stroupe took the leap into the Pro Stock ranks in 2009.
“We built a new GXP in 2009 and we ran a couple Pro Stock races in that, with our own engines,” Stroupe said. “Then the economy killed us, and we ran again in 2012. Then I sold that car and we built this car in 2014. We ran it four or five races in 2015. In 2016, we didn’t run at all because they (NHRA) changed over to the fuel injection. It took us a year to get all of our stuff. So, we didn’t get to race again till 2017. Then we ran 2018, nine races last year and we’re going to have 12 this year. Full schedule next year. It’s been a roller-coaster.”
Stroupe can’t hide his enthusiasm about 2020.
“We’ll go wherever Greg and them go. We’ll go test with them and they’ve got a lot of stuff on the new car they want done,” Stroupe said. “So, it will be interesting. Brand new 2020 Camaro.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019