LEAH PRUETT, Don Schumacher Racing
Driver of the Mopar/Pennzoil/Okuma Top Fuel Dragster
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Team owner: Don Schumacher
Category: Top Fuel
Crew chief: Todd Okuhara/Neal Strausbaugh
2019 wins/runner-up finishes: 1/1
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 8/7
No. 1 Qualifiers: 12
2019 points finish: 4th
Best points finish: 4th (2018/2019)
Playoff appearances: Four (2016 – 2019)
Career-best elapsed time: 3.631-seconds (Pomona II, 2018)
Career-best speed: 334.15-mph (Phoenix, 2018)
Category: Factory Stock Showdown Series
Crew chief: Kevin Helms
2019 wins/runner-up finishes: 0/1
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 3/1
No. 1 Qualifiers: Two
Best points finish: 1st (2018)
Residence: Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
Hometown: Redlands, Calif.
Date of birth: May 26, 1988
Height/weight: 5-foot-9, 125 pounds
Hobbies: Wake surfing, snowboarding, fitness, bracket drag racing, volleyball, motocross, desert riding
Social media: @LeahPruettTF, Twitter; LeahPruettTF, Facebook; leahPruett_TF, Instagram
31-year-old Leah Pruett closed out her third full season as a member of Don Schumacher Racing by securing a ‘top five’ finish for the third consecutive year. She kicked off 2019 with a runner-up finish in Phoenix during the second event of the year, and a win at Brainerd International Raceway in August helped her to qualify for her fourth consecutive Countdown to the Championship playoff run.
Throughout 2019, Pruett pulled double-duty, competing in the full eight-event Factory Stock Showdown Series schedule while simultaneously competing in the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Behind the wheel of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, Pruett, who had her sights set on defending her 2018 Factory Stock Showdown Series title, overcame a rocky start to close out the season with a runner-up finish at the Texas NHRA FallNationals.
The 2018 Factory Stock Showdown crown was the fourth title for Pruett, who previously captured the 2000 and 2001 Jr. Dragster division 7 championships, and the 2010 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series championship in the Nostalgia Funny Car class.
Pruett’s tenure with DSR began in 2016. She started the year driving for Bob Vandergriff Racing with the promise of her first full-time season competing in the Top Fuel category. After winning her first Mello Yello Top Fuel title in the season’s second event, the organization folded just two races later when the team’s primary sponsor died unexpectedly at a young age.
The Southern California native who lives in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. worked to find ways to compete in the next few races to keep her dream alive of qualifying for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs at the end of the year.
Ron Thames and the FireAde 2000 Personal Fire Suppression System stepped in and supported her for four events. Pennzoil and Mopar joined in with support for three others, and Albrecht’s Fast Track motorcycle shop backed her at Chicago.
A major jolt to her career happened in August at Seattle when Papa John’s Pizza joined Pruett and DSR for its first foray into professional motorsports with a five-race sponsorship that helped to fulfill her dream of competing in her first Countdown to the Championship.
Joining DSR in 2016 brought Pruett’s nitro career full circle, as she had earned her nitro Funny Car license with DSR 10 years prior.
Pruett’s journey to the pinnacle of drag racing began when she and her family joined the NHRA Jr. Dragster youth racing program where she won 37 trophies between the ages of eight and 16
As soon as she was old enough, Pruett got behind the wheel of a full-size drag race car, and continued to light up the scoreboard in 190-mph NHRA Sportsman categories. At 18, she built a Nostalgia nitro Funny car with her father Ron, a former Bonneville Salt Flats record holder, and became the first woman to run in the 5-second range in a Nostalgia Funny Car.
She also set the record for fastest Nostalgia nitro Funny Car, being the first to exceed 250-mph. In 2010, she branched off from her family’s racing operation and began driving for Steve Plueger, where she became the Hot Rod Heritage Series champion, winning multiple prestigious races and setting records.
It wasn’t too long before her success was noticed by professional Funny Car and Pro Mod team owner Roger Burgess. In 2011, she moved to Atlanta to begin driving Pro Modified cars for his R2B2 racing operation, where she won three national events in two seasons.
Two years later, she joined Dote Racing in the ranks of Top Fuel and finished the year ranked 15th despite competing in only half of the 24-race schedule. She was a finalist for NHRA Road to The Future rookie award despite missing 12 races.