Story continues below this advertisement
For someone who’s been around racing her whole life, it would be hard for Melanie Troxel to not be driving a racecar. But that’s what this season looked like for her last November. The economy forced her to park her Funny Car while she and her team continued to search for sponsorship. Since then, she’s found a ride in a Pro Mod car and has been running at both NHRA and IHRA events.
Roger Burgess, the new owner of her Funny Car team, also had three Pro Mod cars, one of which was sitting in the shop, awaiting a driver at the end of 2008. When the Funny Car team lost their sponsor, he suggested Melanie drive his third Pro Mod until they found more sponsorship. She took the chance, knowing that running this class could help her gain valuable seat time and allow her to keep her name in the industry.
This season, she, Burgess and Raymond Commisso were able to go to a couple of IHRA events and an NHRA event before coming to Indy. They also took all three cars out to test in between events. It took a quite a few times down the track to get things worked out in Melanie’s car, but they finally did it. At her last race – the IHRA race in Martin, MI – she made it to the semis. She is very positive about the progress of the car.
“We finally feel like we’ve gotten to the point now where we have a car that we can actually race with.”
The car’s performance is improving, but she still feels there’s a need for more seat time. Aside from winning, the main goal Melanie has for herself is gaining more experience behind the wheel. While she is on the right track for success in Pro Mod and thoroughly enjoying it, she doesn’t plan on staying in that class forever.
“That doesn’t mean I don't want to get back in a nitro car. [Driving a Funny Car] is still my main focus,” she admitted.
The recent economy has only made a challenging sponsor search even harder. Companies have a tough time spending so much on a race team in a normal economy so having an economy in the downswing doesn’t help much. Yet she tries to stay upbeat, believing that she will once again be in a fuel car.