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Jack Ostrander

Jack Ostrander scored the upset win of the year Sept. 29, in the first round of the CARQUEST President's Cup Nationals, when he put an end to Clay Millican's unprecedented IHRA Top Fuel winning streak that dated back to late-2001. It was Ostrander's fifth IHRA career win and his first since 1996 at Darlington, SC.

After dabbling with street cars as a teenager in Pontiac, MI, Ostrander, now 64, began drag racing seriously in 1957 with a gas dragster. He spent some time in the '70s as a Top Fuel drag-boat pilot, but traded in his pontoons for slicks in 1979 and has been running as one of the sport's "little guys" ever since. Still, Ostrander currently owns and operates the only multi-car team on the IHRA nitro circuit, with Louie Allison driving as his teammate.

In recognition of Ostrander's straightforward attitude and leadership in the class, IHRA president Bill Bader once dubbed him, "Mayor of Top Fuel." Shortly after his historic victory, "His Honor" sat down with DRO to describe the race and his plans for the future.

DRO: First of all, congratulations on your big win.

JO: Well, I hadn't won since '96, so it was kind of nice. Actually, we don't even go out there to race my car; we go to race Louie's. Sometimes we'll try something on my car first, but I don't really go with the idea of winning in my car. We try to make Louie's car run as hard as we can, though, and all the good parts are in that car. I very seldom take them to the starting line together; it's just too much work for the crew I have.

DRO: How does this one compare to your previous event wins?

JO: I won a couple back in '87 and then again in New York in '94, and then my last one was at Darlington in '96. But at that race, I think we were number-one or number-two qualifier and we had low ET of every round of eliminations, so I was supposed to win that race.

This time, on Sunday morning I wasn't even going to run my car. I was saying, 'I don't need to race Millican. I already know the only way I'm going to beat him is if he breaks or something happens, because I can't run a 4.60. But of course, they couldn't either. The racetrack just suited better what I was doing than what he was doing. I got down the racetrack and he didn't. But that's drag racing; everybody's got the same racetrack to run on. I'd rather have gone 4.60 and beat him, as opposed to what I did, but I'll take it any way I can.

DRO: Could you have imagined at the time that it would take so long to win again?

JO: Well, I never have had the money behind me to do what it takes to win every time. Basically, I've got two sponsors, Rocky Mountain Express and the Vista Food Exchange guys, that help me out with expenses. And every time that I've crashed a car or broke something, they've been able to come up with the money to get me another car, but as far as getting a big check every week to run the car, I just don't get that.

Ostrander has been driving for a while as seen in these DRO file photos. (photo by Don Gillespie)

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