Veteran hot rod racer Cory "Cory Mac" McClenathan has 33 career wins and a career top speed of 332.3 mph on the National Hot Road Association circuit. He'll be driving his Carrier Boyz Racing FRAM AirHog Top Fuel dragster in the Mac Tools NHRA U.S. Nationals Aug. 31-Sept. 5 at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont. For tickets, call 317-239-5151 or visit NHRA.com.
Q: What do the U.S. Nationals mean to you?
A: It's huge for me, especially after winning this thing twice. It's the one that everyone wants to win. We're not exactly where we want to be points-wise right now, so if we could win this one, it'd make our season. If you can't win a championship, you want to win Indy. It's why we came here. It'd be huge to give Fram their first win, too.
It's the biggest race of the year. This is the one that everyone is going to remember. I can't tell you the feeling of walking in there. I get psyched up for this one the most.
Q: What's the most exciting time of the week for you, besides the finals?
A: The Friday night of qualifying. It has an aura. Even when we were testing last week, people were already there watching. But on Friday, when it gets so crowded and nobody can move around the start line, it's amazing. You can feel it inside the car. It's almost like the fans are inside the car with you. They're waiting for the big speeds to happen. Once you qualify, you've thrown down the gauntlet and you're waiting for the next guy to come and take it away from you. It's a feeling you can't describe.
I woke up at 5 a.m. [Monday] and drove to Indy to get ready for Friday night. Now it's just anticipation. Doing interviews. Meeting fans. Being at the luncheons. By the time Friday comes, I'm wired to the gills waiting to get in the car.
Q: What does it feel like to go 300-plus miles per hour?
A: When you're stepping on the pedal after the burnout, you're leaving the starting line at five and a half G's positive and then it tapers off a little bit. Then it's negative six and a half G's when you pull up those parachutes. You can't describe the feeling. TV doesn't even do it justice. You really have to be there to see it.