Mendy Fry's Darkside Dossier

For a couple of years now, I was getting sick of not getting picked. With all of those Funny Cars out there racing, I had nothing. I felt like Carrie had a better chance of getting asked back to the school prom than I had of racing a fuel car again.

In my career, I’ve definitely had some moments… World’s fastest street-legal hot rod at age 16, Alcohol Dragster Low ET of the Planet at 18, first woman in a front-engine fueler in the 5s at, well, never mind how old I was when that happened… Then things started blowing up on the track… I must’ve dodged parts and ducked fire in Nitro Funny Cars and AA/Fuel Dragsters from here to Waterloo, Iowa. Then things started coming apart off the track… never mind running over your own rods and crashing in Vegas — I got sued by a drag-strip stage dad! While that was on the docket, I wondered if I belonged in a fire suit at all.

Then it went away altogether. I hadn’t really pissed anyone off in a while. What happened?

I stayed busy. Last year I mixed nitro for a Top Fuel team and waited for the phone to ring. Finally, after making myself available, I got asked back to the dance. Smokey Alleman wondered if I could drive his “Darkside” ‘78 Challenger Nitro Funny Car at the Heritage Series races. Smokey has been building engines for dirt-track racers and Indy Car stars longer than I have been alive, but I knew his Funny Car deal finished 2013 on vapors.