Race Reports

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May 29, 2019 (JOLIET, IL) Paul Lee will return to the seat of his privately owned Nitro Funny Car this weekend at the Route 66 Nationals in Joliet. Lee, primarily backed by McLeod Racing, is looking to have another successful, clean weekend. This weekend, JEGS Performance will be McLeod’s Dealer of the Race and Dragzine will be the official publication.

The Chicagoland track has always been a favorite of Paul Lee. During his Top Alcohol Funny Car career, he was the runner up in 2004. Lee also received his Fuel Funny Car license during a Monday test session after the event.

“Route 66 has always been really great to me,” says Lee, owner of McLeod Racing. “I went to the finals in Alcohol Funny Car and now we are looking to do it in the Nitro Funny Car. After Atlanta, I can’t wait to get back in the seat. If Atlanta was any kind of insight of what this team and what this car can do, I have no worries that we will going rounds on Sunday.”

During the race weekend, JEGS Performance will be hosting a Dealer of the Race sale. Our customers will be able to become McLeod equipped at Jegs.com from May 27th to June 3rd.

“Racing is fun, but the B2B is a huge part of the success,” says Lee. “JEGS has been a great partner of McLeod Racing and it’s great to be able to come together and give our customers a great discount. Being successful both on the track and in the office is what sets this McLeod team a part from the others.”

Racing on a professional level, Lee is able to offer a unique approach to traditional marketing. Dragzine will be a part of the McLeod Funny Car this weekend as the official magazine partner.

“We have been doing business with James Lawrence and the entire Power Automedia group for many years on the manufacturer’s side,” expresses Lee. “Power Automedia is a great avenue of marketing for McLeod and we want to return the favor and shed some national television light on the publication, Dragzine.”

Fans will be able to watch the McLeod team and meet Paul Lee at the Straigthline Strategy Group pit next to Clay Millican. Qualifying begins Friday at 6:15 pm and continues at 3:30 pm on Saturday with Sunday eliminations starting at 11 am. Be sure to follow Paul Lee on social media to get some Behind the Scenes action during the Route 66 Nationals.

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This weekend’s NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta will mark one of the great comebacks in recent memory, as Paul Lee makes a most unlikely return to racing in the Funny Car division following a two-year hiatus. Lee, who suffered a widow-maker heart attack in 2016, was told by doctors that it would be in his best interests to retire from racing. At the time of his heart attack, Lee had been making preparations for an expanded schedule of events on the NHRA tour, all of which came to a crashing halt. Following his recovery, Lee made significant, long-term lifestyle changes aimed at improving his hearth health — adjustments that were so successful, doctors ultimately granted him their blessing to drive a fuel Funny Car again.

Adding to the magnitude of the moment, Lee’s return will come at the site of his first national event victory, as he won Top Alcohol Funny Car at Atlanta in 2004.

“Atlanta has always been special to me because this is where I won my first national event,” says Lee, owner of McLeod Racing. “To be here is a feat in itself. The last 6 months, I have been training to be able to return to both the physical and mental condition it takes to successfully drive a Nitro Funny Car. I feel great and have never been more ready to return to my mission and purpose of racing.”

Over the winter, Lee announced a new alliance with the Straightline Strategy Group, which owns and operates the Top Fuel team of Clay Millican. In addition, Jim Oberhofer , a longtime friend of Lee’s, also joined the team as crew chief. 

“Working with the SSG has been a great way to expand sponsorship partners,” says Lee. “We are able to appeal to big companies and be able to cater a sponsorship that works with their marketing and business objectives.”

Added Oberhofer: “I’m excited to work on a funny car, but I am more excited to work with Paul. It doesn’t matter what he drove. If he drove a Super Stock car I would be happy. Racing is about friendship and that is what the team is built from.”

In preparation for the Southern Nationals, Lee tested at the zMax Dragway in Charlotte on Monday following the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals; after an initial 330-foot planned shutoff, Lee drove the McLeod Racing-backed Dodge Charger to the finish line on its second lap, running 3.94 at 323 mph.

“After Paul passed the finish line on the second pass, we are all pumped up to see what comes this weekend at Atlanta,” says Oberhofer. “With a driver who looks like he hasn’t stepped away a single day from the seat to the talented crew we have assembled, this race will be fun no matter what happens.”

“I really have to thank Don Schumacher, Rahn Tobler and everyone at DSR for all their assistance in assembling our team,” says Lee. “We wouldn’t be able to be here without all of their help.” 

Lee is also entered to compete at Norwalk, Sonoma, Indianapolis, Reading, St. Louis, Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Pomona.

Paul LeeFebruary 17, 2017 (PLACENTIA, CA): NHRA Nitro Funny Car driver, Paul Lee, is retiring from the sportof drag racing. Lee suffered a heart attack over the winter and will not be returning to the seat of his McLeod Racing/ Kalitta Motorsports Nitro Funny Car.

On December 13, 2016, two days after returning from a successful PRI show in Indy, Lee experienced a massive “widow maker” heart attack, with 100% blockage of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery. Three stints were inserted in his main artery, but Paul suffered significant heart damage as a result.

“I’m very lucky to be alive,” says Paul Lee, owner of McLeod Racing.  “The paramedics are close to my house and were there in minutes. They got me to the hospital in time for the doctors to save my life. The doctor told me that this is the worst kind of heart attack someone can have and only about 1 in 10 survives. So I’m extremely grateful to the local paramedics and the doctors for doing a great job of saving me.”

Lee has been a lifelong fan and participant of NHRA drag racing. He began his love as a little kid at his home track of Atco Dragway in New Jersey. He used to “borrow” his mom’s car at 17 years old and head out to the drag strip. Since then he has claimed victories in both Top Alcohol and Top Fuel Funny Cars.

“I’ve dedicated my life to the sport of NHRA Drag Racing,” explains Lee.  “It’s been my love and passion since I was a child growing up in New Jersey. It pains me to know that I’ll probably never get to drive again, but in reality, I’m happy to still be here. My heart is too weak and will take years to recover. Besides, as long as I’m on blood thinners (to help a damaged heart work better), it’s not safe for me to drive a 300mph race car.”

Lee’s racing operation, which is managed by Kalitta Motorsports, will be entered in some races this year to fulfill previous sponsor commitments. A driver will be announced when the time comes available. As for co-crew chiefs, Glen Huszar and Nick Casertano, they will continue their efforts to help the Funny Car teams of J.R. Todd and Alexis DeJoria.

"Kalitta Motorsports was devastated to learn about Paul's heart attack, but thankful that he is still with us," said Jim Oberhofer, Vice President of Operations, Kalitta Motorsports. "We know how much desire Paul had to compete at the highest level in the sport so we are saddened he will be unable to continue. However, he is and always will be a part of the Kalitta family."

Lee will continue to support the Kalitta Motorsports organization for the years to come. He will also continue to own and operate McLeod Racing.

“Nevertheless, I’ve made many friends in this sport, both in my Alcohol Funny Car days in Division 1, up to my friends in the professional ranks, and especially all the folks at Team Kalitta. I’d like to personally thank Connie Kalitta and Jim Oberhofer and the whole Kalitta organization for welcoming me into their family. I will be forever grateful.”

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