Mansfield may be a hotbed for athletes of all sorts, and hot rods is now one of them.
Two former Mansfield High grads have captured Division 4 championships through the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).
Jacob Pitt, a 2001 Mansfield alum recently picked up a championship in the Stock Eliminator Class while 2008 Mansfield graduate Austin Williams snagged the trophy in the Super Comp Class.
The two drivers, although seven years apart, have known each other since childhood from time spent at the local speedways, including the Texas Motorplex in Ennis and the Texas Raceway in Kennedale.
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Competing in Division 4, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico, Pitt and Williams have traveled the circuit of races accumulating points in each race which established them as champions of their respective classes.
“We’ve known each other forever,” Pitt said. “We raced as we grew up and our families have both been involved for years.”
Pitt, for example, is a third-generation driver in his family, hence their racing team name of Tradition Racing. His grandfather started racing in 1955.
They both said that with their families racing, the kids would routinely hang out with each other and get to know each other well.
“We knew each other from racing locally at the Texas Raceway in Kennedale,” Williams said. “I’ve been racing since eight, and we’ve known each other since he was maybe 15,” he said. “We’ve known each other for 15 years or so.”
The two drivers, although seeing each other at many races across the region, took different paths en route to their titles.
Pitt missed the first week of racing in Houston but made it to the final round at the Motorplex to help boost his point total. He also raced in Louisiana and both of them won the competition in Tulsa.
A quarterfinals finish in Kansas put Pitt close to the top. At the last race at Thunder Valley in Noble, Okla., Pitt sealed the championship.
Williams went a bit farther to accumulate points, including racing in Las Vegas.
The irony of racing all across the country and have to classes dominated by alumni of the same high school is an amusing to most who learn of the fact.
The two have raced against each other plenty of times locally in bracket racing events, and Williams estimated it’s been maybe 15-20 times.
“He’s beat me more if I had to guess,” Williams said.
The two Mansfield drivers said they definitely have an open line of communication, discussing different strategies and notes on weather conditions. “We try and compare and bounce ideas off each other,” Pitt said.
“When we’re not traveling to races, we see each other almost every weekend,” Pitt said. “We’re always there (at the track) honing our skills and trying to stay sharp.”
The racing season runs from about March through October, so the two are back in Mansfield most of the time now.
Having an off-season is good for Pitt and Williams in another way.
“It’s an expensive hobby,” said Pitt.
Williams, who also runs in the Stock Eliminator class, has been more focused on the slender, longer body style cars, and is a recent graduate from Texas A&M.
The two have won other local track championships, but these are their first NHRA championships.