Henderson, NV: It was just over a year ago that Justin Lamb and his father Chris made the decision to purchase a 1970 Chevrolet Camaro for Stock Eliminator competition. It’s not as if Lamb, 26, was green to the sport of drag racing: at a young age he has quickly become one of the most successful drivers in NHRA sportsman racing. But up until his 2013 debut at the NHRA Winternationals, Lamb had hardly driven a Stock Eliminator car. Ten short months later, he is the NHRA Stock Eliminator national champion.
“It’s all pretty crazy when you look back on it,” Lamb admits. “I came up with the idea to run Stock in the middle of last season, but I wasn’t sure which car, class, or combination would be best. I actually drove the Camaro that we now own at the Las Vegas division race last season for its former owner, and my good friend, Tommy Gaynor. I blew it up. Somehow I managed to talk my father into buying this race car, with a blown engine, and going Stock Eliminator racing.”
To say that the Lamb’s started from the ground up is not an exaggeration. They enlisted multi-time NHRA champion and renowned engine builder Gary Stinnett to build a new 350 cubic inch powerplant. Lamb then turned to Moser Engineering for a bolt-in suspension kit, and upgraded rear-end components.
“This was a really nice car when we bought it from Tommy,” Lamb said. “So of course, we pretty much redid everything from one end to the other! I do want to personally thank Gary Stinnett, along with Phil Unruh who built this car originally, for their help and insight. And also John Calvert at Calvert Racing Suspension and Pete at JRI shocks for getting us pointed in the right direction.”
Once they hit the track, the results quickly piled up. After initial growing pains to work the bugs out of his new Redback Boots/Moser Engineering Stock Eliminator entry, Lamb started racking up points at the division level with a semi-final finish in Phoenix and a quarterfinal effort at his home track in Las Vegas. He made his way to Denver, CO for the NHRA Mile-High Nationals and earned the Stock Eliminator victory; joining an elite group of drivers to win at the NHRA national event level in five different categories. Lamb, by far the youngest driver on a list that includes Greg Stanfield, Jeg Coughlin, Jr., Peter Biondo, David Rampy and Scotty Richardson (Coughlin and Biondo have each won in 6 categories), has won national events in Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Top Comp. At that same event in Denver, he nearly joined the similarly elite list of drivers who have doubled at the national event level: after earning the Stock victory, Lamb fell to Dan Fletcher in the Super Stock final. In his brief career, Lamb has amassed 10 NHRA national event victories in 15 final round appearances.
Even after the Denver win, Lamb didn’t appear to be a factor in the national points chase, and third round defeats at the following western swing events in Seattle, WA and Sonoma, CA did little to bolster his title hopes. In the late summer months, however, Lamb caught fire. He won the LODRS event in Seattle, and backed it up with another victory at the LODRS event in Salt Lake City. Suddenly, with just one event left to claim, Lamb was in title contention entering the NHRA Lucas Oil Series finale at his home track, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In order to surpass season-long leader Drew Skillman, Lamb would have to advance to the semi-final round in Las Vegas, and that’s just what he did.
“That divisional was really a bizarre set of circumstances,” Lamb admitted. “I won the first round, then had three consecutive red lights beside me to get the bye run into the semi’s. Don’t get me wrong, I was competitive and I feel like I could have defeated my opponents – heck I’d almost rather have to earn it – but I didn’t have to. It just fell in my lap.”
Lamb coasted down the track on his fifth round bye run, sealing the world championship by a single point.
As if winning the title didn’t make for a good enough day, Lamb went on to win the Super Stock trophy at the same event behind the wheel of his Sunstate Companies/Madcap Racing Engines Chevy Cobalt. That victory marked Lamb’s 18th NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series victory in an incredible seven different categories.
In addition to earning his first NHRA Lucas Oil national title, Lamb also claimed the NHRA Pacific Division Stock Eliminator championship. The Division 7 crown is the fourth for Lamb, and marks the third consecutive season he’s earned a Division 7 title (Lamb won the Comp crown in 2011 and 2012).
If racing to his first NHRA national championship didn’t keep Lamb busy enough this season, he also found time to assemble two new Racetech dragsters, one for his sister Ryen, and a second for longtime friend Shane Thompson. In just a handful of events, both machines have already earned Best Appearing Car honors, and Thompson won the Top Dragster title in Salt Lake City at his first competition appearance!
Lamb’s younger sister Ryen has turned heads with her driving prowess since taking the wheel early last season, and her development continued with the new machine as she racked up a number of late round appearances in the final events of 2013.
After a brief offseason, Justin Lamb will attempt to defend his NHRA national championship and Division 7 Stock Eliminator crown in 2014. In addition, Lamb and his sister Ryen will compete in a variety of NHRA categories including Competition Eliminator, Top Dragster, Super Stock, Super Comp, and Super Gas.
In addition to Redback Boots, Moser Engineering, and Sunstate Companies, the Lamb Motorsports team is backed by partner V. Gaines along with Madcap Racing Engines, Power Probe, JEGS, Safety Kleen, K&N Engineering, Lucas Oil, Goodyear Tires, Matco Tools, Book Racing Carbs, Palmer Electric, B&B Race Cars, Race Tech, Meziere Enterprises, JRI Shocks, Calvert Racing, Total Seal, A-1 Transmission and Aeromotive. Justin Lamb also wished to personally thank his family: his wife Jeanine; his father Chris; his mother Carole, and his sister Ryen; along with Peter Biondo, Kyle Seipel, and Larry Allen.