Danny Waters Jr. works as a service manager at a John Deere Ag and Turf store during the week.
When he isn’t busy working on the mowers, tractors and other equipment used on the farms, golf courses and other sites around the Mid-Atlantic region, the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Quick Rod World Champion is usually piling up victories on the drag strip.
With a recent performance in the Summit Sportsman National Championship, the 40-year-old, La Grange, N.C., racer became a three-time IHRA World Champion, following a Hot Rod title in 1998 and a Quick Rod title in 2007.
“Winning never gets old and winning a championship is hard to do,” Waters said. “When you have a family, a home, a job and everything trying to keep it together, I think it’s more rewarding now than before I had all of that. The dedication it takes to do this is something special.”
What he did in June at Farmington (N.C.) Dragway was certainly special. Waters drove his 2011 Race Tech X-Link Dragster with a 615 cubic-inch GM engine to a weekend sweep. What made it more special for him personally is that he shared the moment with his family.
“My wife and little boy were with me and we were able to win Saturday and Sunday,” he recalled. “After we won the first day, we were all excited and pumped up. But to get do it that second day with my wife, my son and my dad all in the winner’s circle, that was really special.”
Weekends at the track already are always special to Waters. It’s a place where he feels it’s like being with his extended family.
The former automotive technician has made multiple friends on his job from working on everything from skid-steer equipment to lawn motors to combines. But, his closest buds are the group of racers who share his passion for rocketing down the drag strip.
“I have a great group of friends,” he said. “But, I have more friends at the track than I have outside of it. It’s not by choice necessarily, just the way I grew up. I’ve known people out here a couple of decades and I’ve seen their kids grow up our here.”
Getting his start in drag racing at age 16, Waters believes nowhere around here is the competition tougher than his home area. It’s an area rich in racing tradition, both drag racing and NASCAR.
“Obviously, everybody in this area is a great racer so there are no gimmes when you come to the track,” he said. “The Carolinas have so many great tracks and they bring so many great drivers out. You learn if you want to come out on top, you must work hard. It makes you drive better and be on top of your game. You have a lot of great 1/8-mile tracks and you have to be flexible to make those races.”
IHRA contingency sponsor Moser Engineering serves as the main sponsor for Waters’ team. He won four races with them in the Summit Sportsman National Championship, including the Palm Beach makeup and Darlington on Sunday. He sees more trophies in their future.
“It’s been a great relationship with the Moser Engineering group,” he said. “They’ve been great partners and we’re looking forward to winning more with them.”