Luke Schwemler had one word to describe the custom-built JR Race Car given to the Junior Dragster World Champion at the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.
With a custom paint scheme from Jerron Settles of Imagine That Customs, the custom-built car was unveiled by JR Race Car’s Kevin Horner and Brian Nelson at the Trick Flow Racer’s Party on Friday night. All the junior dragster racers gathered around the eye-catching machine with its unique design.
To win the JR Race Car, Schwemler had to go through six rounds of competition from the best junior drivers from all over North America. And that came after he and other drivers had qualified for the Summit World Finals through their home tracks or through one of the Division Team Finals.
For Schwemler, the Division 5 champion, it meant a nearly 12-hour drive from his hometown of Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, to Memphis International Raceway.
“It was a long drive down here, but it was definitely worth it. To win a new race car, that’s an awesome prize,” said Schwemler, whose home track is the Grand Bend Motorplex. “That last race, I knew I cut a bad light [in the final] and I was worrying all the way down the track. When I saw that win light, I was cheering in the car.”
The bad light which Schwemler referred to was a .075 reaction time, his slowest of the day. But, he still came out on top against No. 1 qualifier Nick Ferraro, who was representing Immokalee Regional Raceway.
Schwemler truly had to beat some of the best junior drivers from North America. He faced racers from Canada and the upper Midwest to win the Division 5 title, and then faced Shelby Roy from Alaska in round one of the Summit World Finals. In the second round, Schwemler’s opponent was Saylar Bustle.
“The Summit Team Finals were at Martin [Michigan], and it was also stressful,” Schwemler said. “Once you get here, you try not to think about it, and just treat it like a normal race.”
For most of the day, his reaction times weren’t normal, they were spot on.
He cut lights of .001 and .004 to beat Bethany Sexton and Brandon Sullivan in rounds three and four. He then came off the starting line in .007 of a second to beat Leslie Grissom Jr. in the semifinals.
For his efforts, he ended with $3,000 from Summit Racing Equipment, the new JR Race Car, an IHRA Gold Card, the World Champion Ironman Trophy and a World Champion Diamond Ring.
An awesome prize pack, indeed.