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Watch: Audrey Worm talks about the fans in Bristol

Strutmasters.com Top Fuel dragster driver Audrey Worm was busy signing autographs at Bristol Dragway recently. It was there she learned she had a new name with some fans.

“They came over this morning and they said I saw you on TV last night ‘You’re Strutmasters.com girl!’ They didn’t really know my name but it’s important that they know that I’m the Strutmasters.com girl. I’m just glad to be out here and we’re having a good time with these Bristol fans.”

See her video here:

 

 

 

“Nitro Granny” Janette Thornley picks up her first win of the season

Janette Thornley, the Nitro Granny, picks up her first win of the season in Bowling Green.

The Nitro Granny Janette Thornley broke through and delivered her first victory for sponsor Strutmasters.com June 30 in the American Motorcycle Racing Association event in Bowling Green, KY. 

She defeated Dennis Waldron of Owings, MD with a quarter-mile pass of 7.521 seconds. She claimed a top speed of 168.14 miles an hour in the Pro Fuel Motorcycle final round. 

“It was definitely a huge relief to finally take home the trophy,” said Thornley. “We were shut out in 2018 and only went to one final round. This was our second finals of the season and our first victory. It feels pretty amazing.”

However, Thornley said the mechanical issues that spoiled her chance at winning the first two events of the year were nonexistent at Beech Bend Raceway. “We finally got to see what we could do with our equipment operating up to par. I went to bed on Saturday night not feeling good about my performance on the bike. However, when it counted on Sunday, we were able to deliver the goods.”

The Oregon native was the Pro Fuel Motorcycle’s fastest qualifier. She hit 169.32 miles an hour in a 7.518-second pass on a custom-built drag racing motorcycle with a 121cc Harley Davidson engine.

Thornley was the AMRA Pro Fuel Series champion in 2017. The “Nitro Granny” rides for her family-owned Dream Chaser Racin’ out of Statesville, NC. Her other accomplishments include:

2017 American Drag Racing League Pro Fuel Championship

2017 American Motorcycle Racing Association Lady Racer of the Year

2016 NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series Pro Fuel Champion

2016 Female Racer Of The Year By Horse Power & Heels

2015 NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series Pro Fuel Champion

Johnny Pluchino continues his Pro Outlaw 632 series domination

Johnny Pluchino 's car and winnings

Second-generation racer Johnny Pluchino of Oakdale, NY continued his dominance of the Pro Outlaw 632 series in the PDRA Summer Nationals June 30 in Valdosta, GA.

 

Pluchino hit a top speed of 164.27 miles an hour in 4.322 seconds on the South Georgia Motorsports Park one-eighth mile drag strip for his third PDRA victory of the season in the Strutmasters.com machine with a 632 cubic engine, normally-aspirated engine.

 

Runner-up Chris Holdorf was faster (4.306 seconds and 166.68 mph).  However, the Strutmasters.com driver gained a hole shot victory because of a superior reaction time at the starting line — just 0.046 seconds.

 

“The PDRA people are tired of me dominating, so they added another 50 pounds of weight to our car with absolutely no warning,” said Pluchino, the 2018 series champion. “I won my semi-final round by just one-thousandth of a second. Holdorf was faster than me in the finals, but we still won anyway.”

 

 

Pluchino pulling double duty

 

Pluchino pulled double duty in the searing Georgia heat that topped out at 95 degrees with high humidity. He drove a second entry in the Extreme Pro Stock division. However, the eventual Extreme winner Steven Boone of Weaverville, NC knocked him out in the first round.

 

Rain and storms delayed the races on Friday and Saturday. The weather pushed the final rounds to their rain date of Sunday, June 30.

 

“The heat and humidity was just brutal,” said Pluchino. “But taking a trophy home always makes it worth it. I know we couldn’t do it without great sponsors like Strutmasters.com, that is for sure.”

Audrey Worm: The time is now to make her legacy

Audrey Worm and her Strutmasters team at the line at Bristol Dragway.

  The clock is ticking for Audrey Worm and her chance to make history at drag racing’s highest level.  And there’s no time to waste.

   With an early onset of Parkinson’s disease chipping away at her father’s health, Worm has accelerated her dream of joining icon Shirley Muldowney as the only female owner/drivers of an NHRA Top Fuel Dragster.

   “I’m sure everybody thinks I was crazy for jumping into the nitro car so quickly,” said Worm about the move into machines that exceed 300 miles an hour.  “I don’t have time to wait because I want to make sure my father can enjoy this with me.”

   The wheels are in motion for the twenty-seven-year-old Pennsylvania native to follow a path blazed decades ago by Muldowney in the National Hot Rod Association’s premier circuit.

Controlling her own destiny

   She recently acquired backing from Strutmasters.com, a family-owned North Carolina suspension company. The support at least ensures she can get to the track for the rest of this season.  She is actively searching for a much larger partner to help her contend for victories and championships in 2020.

Audrey Worm and her Strutmasters team at the line at Bristol Dragway.
Team member Gary Leverich tries to keep up as driver Audrey Worm stages Top Fuel dragster for a qualifying run at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee. She made the field and raced Antron Brown.

   “I am still pinching myself this is all coming together,” said Worm, who resides in the small community of Grantville off Interstate 81.  “It’s tough enough just to make the leap from the Nostalgia Dragsters to Top Fuel, but now there is an extra layer in this taking on the responsibilities of being a team owner.”

   Worm says instead of “shopping for stuff like a pair of jeans that fit,” she has been busy working the NHRA pits for a good used 25-foot rail dragster and a supercharged engine that produces upwards of 11,000 horsepower.

   “It’s going to be a pretty big mountain to climb,” she acknowledged, “but I am so ready for this challenge.  This is all I’ve ever wanted since I was eight years old. Being the team owner just allows me to control my own destiny.”

Audrey joins the big leagues

   Worm stuck her toe in the waters of the big leagues in 2018 when she drove in nine Top Fuel events for Michigan-based Leverich Family Racing in an unsuccessful bid for the NHRA’s Rookie of the Year award.  She qualified to race at six of the nine events and advanced past the first round once.

   “My first season was a huge challenge,” said Worm.  “I was pretty upset when we didn’t win the rookie award, but my Dad sat me down and did what he does best.  He gave me a lot of encouragement and reminded me the best was yet to come.”

     This season, Worm has qualified at every event she’s entered. She continues to top her career bests in elapsed time and top speed in the nitromethane-burning dragsters.  “I feel like I am about 90 percent of the way there, but I know that last ten percent is the hardest.”

Audrey Worm with a burnout at Thunder Valley.
Audrey’s father John Worm (at right) looks on as she warms tires prior to qualifying for Thunder Valley.

Friends and competitors

   Worm said many in the sport have offered advice, even engine parts and other equipment to help her compete.  The biggest friendship that has evolved, Worm noted, has been with Brittany Force – the 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion.  

     “Brittany says us girls have to stick together,” said Worm about the middle child of Funny Car legend John Force.  “She and I are probably the closest of any of the other lady drivers. All of them have been great to me. Brittany and I just hit it off the most because of our situations.  We’ve both been around the sport since we were kids and just want to make our dads happy.”

   With a laugh, Worm added:  “Ironically, both of our dads are named John.  They have gotten together a few times and they both get emotional and start crying when they talk about their daughters.”

Racing for a cause

  Both her father and grandfather were stricken with Parkinson’s Disease. Worm said her passion for drag racing is exceeded only by her determination to bring awareness to the debilitating disease.

   “To be able to race for Parkinson’s Disease awareness is huge to me,” said Worm, who works with PD patients when she is not racing.  “I want to race as a tribute to Dad and all others battling this.”

Audrey Worm looks on as the team prepares to fire the engine
Audrey looks on as the team prepares to fire the engine

      Worm said she is the “true definition of a Daddy’s girl.  Like any family, we didn’t always get along when I was younger.  But when I got old enough, I would go out to his fabrication shop and hold the frame tubes he was welding together.  I was afraid I would get burned, but I did it to spend time with my dad. It seems we’ve always had the drag racing to keep us together.”

     Her father was a fabricator of 169 front-engine Nostalgia Dragsters before he was slowed by PD. He took his daughter to the nearby Maple Grove (PA) drag strip when she was eight years old.  

   “That day changed my life,” she said.  “I was hooked and it’s all I ever wanted to do since.  Dad built my Nostalgia cars and has done everything for me.  I just want him to be there with me and live the dream of racing in NHRA Top Fuel with our own team.  I want to do it for him. And we don’t have any time to waste.”

WATCH: Audrey Worm talks about her experience in Bristol

Audrey Worm talks about her race at Bristol to Strutmasters.com

Strutmasters.com Top Fuel driver Audrey Worm continued her rise to prominence in Bristol. Though she drew a tough first-round matchup in former world champion Antron Brown, she put down a good clean run at one of the season’s biggest events.

Worm explained that even though she didn’t win her round, the competition brought out the best in her.

“I definitely had to be on my A game with Antron,” said Worm. “He is killer on the light and all I kept telling myself was, ‘Just don’t red light but try to tree him.’ It was actually my personal best light. It was a 96 and normally they’re about 180 so I was happy with that. We had a good run.”
Worm has seen her profile rise quickly recently.

Audrey Worm star on the rise

She won her first round win at the 2019 NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Soon after, she laid down a three-second pass at the Virginia Nationals in Richmond. Soon after, she picked up support from Strutmasters, wearing the logo for the first time in Bristol.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of Worm’s camp, however, is that she plans on taking over ownership of the team by the start of the 2020 season. She would be one of just a few women to own a professional racing outfit.

Watch her talk about her Bristol performance here:

Jeep Cherokee air suspension issues? Here’s how to end them for good.

Jeep Cherokee suspension issues can be corrected with a genuine Strutmasters kit

The Jeep Cherokee is an American classic. The Cherokee was the SUV before SUVs were cool (or even a marketing term).

Over the years, Jeep has added a few comforts to the rugged utility vehicle. Upgraded interior packages, stereo components, electronics and most notably, Jeep’s Quadralift air suspension have been added to the Cherokee over time.

When new, this air suspension provides a smooth, comfortable ride for the driver and passengers. However, most owners find that as the car gets up in miles, they start to notice suspension issues.

It is important to recognize that these issues are VERY common. First, let’s explore some of the most common symptoms of a broken Jeep Cherokee suspension.

Jeep Cherokee air suspension common issues

Active suspension issues can present themselves in many ways. While many of these are common problems for Jeep owners, they are really problems with air suspension as a whole. They are not necessarily specific to Jeep Quadralift.

One of the main problems owners notice is that the rear of the Cherokee sags. This makes the Jeep look like it’s leaning back. This happens because the rear suspension is unable to keep the rear end at the correct height.

Another common issue is the dreaded “nose dive.” This occurs when the front suspension wears out. The force of the car coming to a stop makes the car lurch forward and the front end dives towards the ground. This is not only uncomfortable, it is dangerous. At this point, your Cherokee is taking much longer to stop than it should.

Another issue one might notice is the car not coming to a full stop quickly enough. Some owners will also face a noisy compressor. Others might find that their Jeep Cherokee doesn’t maintain its ride height at all.

These are all issues you might notice with your Jeep Cherokee, even before the suspension warning appears.

If you are unsure of whether your suspension is doing alright, try to give it the “bounce test.”

Walk around to each corner of your Jeep Cherokee. Push down on the corner and let go. If the corner pops back up and stays, the suspension on that particular wheel is doing just fine. However, if it bounces up and down after you release it, it likely has a problem.

So your Jeep Cherokee has suspension issues, how to fix them?

At this point, you should be pretty aware of whether or not you are experiencing Jeep Cherokee Quadralift suspension problems. If you believe that your suspension is worn out or broken, it’s time to take it in to the shop to have it looked at.

Depending on where you go, you’ll get different solutions to fix your active suspension. Most, if not all of them, will be very expensive.

The dealership will likely recommend that you replace any worn out parts with parts from the manufacturer. If money is no object, this is a good way to keep your active suspension in tact.

However, please know that air suspensions are interdependent and that they are all but guaranteed to wear out. That means that over time, you will be replacing most of the components at some point.

Going for one replacement air spring might not seem like a huge expense. However, as they wear out at the same rate, the other three will need replacement soon.

This creates a problem with using third-party air suspension parts too. While you may save a little on the part itself, the problem remains. You will eventually need to fix everything.

Another option for your Jeep Cherokee

While this might sound like the end of the line, you do have another option.

You could get rid of your Jeep Cherokee air suspension issues completely by simply getting rid of your air suspension altogether!

Your Cherokee does still need a suspension, so you will need to replace it with something. Fortunately, Strutmasters has engineered the perfect kit to convert your Jeep Cherokee to reliable, sturdy coilover struts.

Rather than use air and a bunch of electronic components to keep your SUV off of the ground, these kits use good-old mechanical resistance. No electronics. No moving parts.

With Strutmasters’ patented Glide-Ride Technology, you’ll find that this new suspension compares quite well to your old air suspension. And with much fewer problems.

The simplicity of these kits helps out in more ways than one. Not only are there fewer components to fail, they are pretty simple to install at home. In fact, you probably already have all the tools you need to do it yourself!

With a high-quality, dependable jack and some basic hand tools, you can install this kit in about one hour per wheel. That’s basically an afternoon weekend.

Even if you don’t feel comfortable installing it yourself, the easy installation means you pay less in labor costs.

Finally, each kit comes with its own Limited Lifetime Warranty. That means as long as you have your Jeep Cherokee on the road, Strutmasters guarantees the suspension under most circumstances. So once you install your new struts, you won’t have to worry again as long as you drive your Cherokee!

Ready to convert and save!?

When you’re ready to end those Jeep Cherokee suspension problems for good, simply order online or call one of our Suspension Experts at (866) 360-7558 to get a perfect match for your vehicle!

Strutmasters racing well represented at Thunder Valley in Bristol

Strutmasters.com owner and founder Chip Lofton checks Audrey Worm's car before a race.

Strutmasters.com was well represented during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals June 14-16 at one of the most scenic stops on the NHRA trail — historic Bristol Dragway nestled in the mountains of eastern Tennessee countryside.

Strutmasters.com newest driver Audrey Worm

Audrey Worm of  Grantville PA qualified 13th in the Strutmasters.com Top Fuel Dragster from the shops of Leverich Family Racing.  This left her with a first-round match up with fourth-fastest qualifier Antron Brown, a former NHRA champion with 50 Top Fuel victories.

Worm had a solid reaction time of .096 seconds at the start, but Brown got the advantage with a .064-second RT and won with a pass at 3.863 seconds and 318.24 miles an hour.  Worm averted a skirmish with the wall on the bumpy Bristol track and pulled out a 4.082-second run.  She hit a top speed of 271.79 miles an hour before shutting it down early in the 1000-foot race.

“We found some things after that run and I know we can go a lot faster,” said Worm during an autograph session with throngs of fans in attendance.  “We are encouraged that our time would have been good enough to win in several of the other first round matchups, but you have to give Antron and his team credit.  Proud of all our Strutmasters.com team.  They did an awesome job.  We are knocking on the door of winning some rounds.”

Mike Salinas of San Jose, CA topped reigning series champion Steve Torrence of Longview, TX in the Top Fuel event finals at Bristol.  Salinas hit 325.69 miles an hour, completing the final pass in 3.836 seconds.

Johnny Pluchino makes his 1/4 mile debut

Second generation driver Johnny Pluchino made his quarter-mile debut in the Strutmaster.com Ford Mustang in an exhibition of Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars at Bristol.  The Mountain Motor cars are hence named for their massive engines – ranging from 818 to 840 inches of cubic displacement.  The regular NHRA Pro Stock Class features engines at 500 cid.

Pluchino qualified third in a stellar field at Bristol with a quarter-mile pass at 6.364 seconds, just over 220 miles an hour.   The New York native had a mechanical issue just seconds prior to his first elimination run that prevented him from showing his hand.

“We were so disappointed for all the folks at Strutmasters.com,” said Pluchino.  “We were extremely happy with how consistent the car was in qualifying.  We ran 220 miles an hour both times we completed a run.  As it turned out, that would have been fast enough to be in the hunt for a victory here today.”

The 2018 PDRA Pro Outlaw 632 World Champion added:  “We learned a ton of things this weekend.  Once we get it all put together, we are confident we can be a factor at this level.”

Virginia driver Todd Hoerner prevailed in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock event at Bristol with a pass at 6.425 seconds at 219.36 miles an hour.

The “Nitro Granny” shows support for her Strutmasters family

The Nitro Granny, Janette Thornley of Statesville, was in attendance at Bristol, but did not participate in the Top Fuel Harley event for the fastest motorcycles that race in NHRA.

“Just here learning and gathering as many details as we can,” said Thornley, who is seeking to become the first female rider in the Top Fuel Harley class with backing from Strutmasters.com.  “We’re going to continue chasing wins on our Pro Fuel bike and test some with the Top Fuel bike.  The Top Fuel bikes are 25 to 30 miles an hour faster, but I look forward to the challenge.”

Til Tharpe of East Bend, NC, prevailed at Bristol in the Top Fuel Harley class with a run at 6.426 seconds and 218.90 miles an hour.

5 really good reasons to add air shocks to your Harley-Davidson

a lowered harley with air shocks on strutmasters.com

Air shocks used to be a bit of a rigged solution for Harley riders. In order to get that air ride feel, many owners were stripping air suspension components off of old Chevys and other vehicles. Then they would modify them to fit their Harley.

Now, suspension industry leader Strutmasters is offering its signature engineering touch in the world of motorcycle air suspensions. The EZ Rider air shocks line gives riders the choice of installing premium air shocks that are engineered specifically for their motorcycle.

These easy-to-install kits offer many benefits to Harley owners. Let’s take look at some of them here.

5. Adjustable ride height for your Harley



Although no two people are built exactly alike, you’d think everyone was based on how motorcycles are built.

No matter how tall or short you are, the seat on your Harley is fixed at the same height. For tall folks, that means keeping your legs in uncomfortable positions while riding. For shorter folks, that means not always being able to put their feet down. That’s not just uncomfortable, it’s downright dangerous.

Air shocks, like the EZ Rider system, allow Harley owners to quickly adjust the ride height on their motorcycle. This means a more comfortable and safer ride for everyone.

4. Better ride comfort

If you’ve ever driven a car with air shocks, you know what that ride feels like. It’s smooth, almost like you’re floating on a cloud.

As anyone who’s spent more than a little time on a motorcycle knows, the shock of the road can start to take its toll pretty quickly.

With EZ Rider air shocks, Harley owners can enjoy a much smoother, more comfortable ride. While they’re great for Sunday drivers, the effect is maximized for riders who like to put in long hours on the road.

Strutmasters’ exclusive design includes a rubber bump stop inside to eliminate a harsh ride when the air shocks are fully compressed.

3. Adjustable firmness

Just as not all riders are built the same, not all Harley riders drive the same either.

Some drivers prefer a softer suspension that makes their ride feel smooth and easy. Others prefer a firmer, sportier suspension.

But what if you didn’t have to choose just one? Once installed, drivers can adjust the firmness of the suspension to their preference. This essentially means a different suspension for different situations.

2. Better for passengers

Air shocks aren’t just more comfortable for you, they’re more comfortable for your passengers, too.

The EZ Rider air shock system offers additional support for motorcycle passengers. This can potentially save you tons in wear and tear on your Harley if you put a lot of miles in.

Air shocks also offer the same adjustability benefits to passengers as they do drivers.

1. Looks cool

Okay, let’s face it. This is why a lot of you are here.

There is no doubt that lowered Harleys look just about as boss as anything else on the road. With the EZ Rider Harley kit, you can lower your bike whenever you want to, and raise it back up whenever you need to.

With these kits, you can appreciate the good looks of a lowered bike whenever you want without sacrificing your ride control or scraping the bottom of your bike.

Order your easy-to-install kit today and enjoy all the benefits EZ Rider air shocks have to offer!

Johnny Pluchino ready to take on NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock

johnny pluchino drives a strutmasters.com ford mustang

Just a little more than a month after his surprise Extreme Pro Stock debut at the PDRA North-South Shootout in Maryland, Johnny Pluchino has his sights set on the NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock field. The second-generation driver will make his quarter-mile debut in the Mountain Motor Pro Stock exhibition rounds at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, June 14-16.

Pluchino, the son of 2016 PDRA Extreme Pro Stock world champion John Pluchino, will drive his father’s Strutmasters.com ‘13 Ford Mustang at Bristol Speedway.

“This is a really big race for us,” said Pluchino. “There’s so many things going into this race. I’m preparing for it like it’s one of the biggest races of my life because it might be.”

Johnny Pluchino earns his spot

Pluchino got the opportunity to enter the Extreme Pro Stock competition after several test runs in the Strutmasters.com Mustang at the PDRA Virginia race. He was notified of the decision just hours before qualifying races began. Once he accepted the opportunity, he qualified at No. 4.

“I was actually a little torn,” said Pluchino. “I’ve been waiting to get in that car for, realistically, the last three years. I was also torn because my dad was the points leader going into that race and he pulled himself out of the championship hunt to allow me to race. From the team standpoint and as my father’s son, I was upset, but as the driver about to get in this awesome Pro Stock car, I was happy. My emotions were going in both directions, but at that point I understood why my dad made the decision he made. It was a long-term decision and I’m really grateful for it. It was a very unselfish decision and it got me a little more prepared to go to the quarter mile come Bristol.”

Not Johnny Pluchino’s first time around at Bristol

However, this won’t be Pluchino’s first race at Bristol. He actually competed nearly 15 years ago. At that time, he was racing in a Junior Dragster at the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League’s Eastern Conference Finals. He’ll now have the chance to compete in a championship-level vehicle.

“Bristol is a very exciting track with a lot of history, especially in Mountain Motor Pro Stock,” Pluchino said. “It’s a beautiful facility, but it also presents its challenges. We’re excited to go there and to face these challenges. I’m excited for this race because of the history of the track and being able to say I raced Pro Stock at an NHRA race after racing Jr. Dragsters there years ago, but I’m more focused on what we have to do to make sure we’re successful.”

Getting support from Strutmasters.com

It wasn’t until signing a partnership with Chip Lofton and his Strutmasters.com brand that the Pluchino Racing Team decided to dive into the NHRA Mountain Pro Stock field. Lofton, who started the suspension manufacturing company in 1999, has been adding pieces to his racing portfolio. He signed a partnership with Pluchino earlier this year, providing the team with financial support and brand support. Lofton and others from Strutmasters will be at the Thunder Valley Nationals. There, they will support The Pluchino Racing team as well as several other teams which they sponsor.

“Honestly, we wouldn’t be at this Bristol race if it wasn’t for Chip’s support,” Pluchino said. “It will be nice to have Chip there and it gives us a little more motivation to come out on top and get a trophy. It would be awesome to be in the final round and be able to hold the trophy in the winner’s circle with my dad, my crew and my sponsor.”

Johnny Pluchino and the Strutmasters.com Mountain Motor Pro Stock team will make qualifying runs on Friday and Saturday. The eliminations are set for Sunday.