DULUTH, Ga. (April 14) -- Mega-team owner Roger Burgess has announced plans to expand his R2B2 Racing operation to include reigning Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Funny Car champion Leah Pruett-LeDuc. The 22-year-old from Cherry Valley, Calif., will take over the blown RoadRage.com '68 Camaro Pro Mod car currently piloted by team superstar Melanie Troxel, who will switch to a new turbo-charged entry.
"We now have two of the top female racers in the sport to help our sponsors reach the broadest possible market," Burgess said. "Just like Melanie, Brad Personett, and Ray Commisso, Leah is a great driver and we look forward to watching her develop. I think we've found the perfect person to join our team."
Already a licensed nitro Funny Car driver, Pruett-LeDuc will begin the process of earning a crossover license to Pro Mod immediately following this weekend's NHRA national event in Charlotte. The team, headed by crew chief Bob Newberry, has plans to head south to Palm Beach International Raceway for an extended test session to help Pruett-LeDuc become familiar with her new ride.
"To be with a top-notch team like R2B2 Racing and to be joining RoadRage.com during its initial growth phase is phenomenal," Pruett-LeDuc said. "I can't wait to get started, and I can't thank Roger Burgess and Tom and Joel Gonzales for this opportunity.
"It's surreal to think I'll have the chance to work with Melanie Troxel. I have so much respect for her. I plan on picking her brain a lot in the days and weeks ahead because she knows better than anyone what it will take to transition to a Pro Mod car. I've never driven one before; in fact, I've never driven a car where I'm sitting on the left side of the injector so I know I've got a lot to learn."
Pruett-LeDuc routinely went 5.6 at 250-plus mph in a Nostalgia Funny Car, a class she competed in for three years, and also has three years of experience in a blown Alcohol Altered hot rod, a car capable of 7-second passes at 190 mph. Prior to that, she drove Jr. Dragsters.
Burgess hopes to have Pruett-LeDuc ready to compete by May 13-15 in time for his hometown Summit NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
"We've got a new turbo car that should be ready for Melanie by the end of the month," Burgess said. "We'll make absolutely sure that car is up to speed and capable of winning races on the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series before we make this transition.
"Leah will have lots of off-track activities with RoadRage.com as they continue to grow, and of course Melanie will stay busy with all of our supporters and driving both a Pro Mod car and a Funny Car for us. We're doing all we can for our sponsors and this is just another step in delivering the very best product at all times."
RoadRage.com is an online gathering place for motoring enthusiasts.
"They're out on the cutting edge of technology," Pruett-LeDuc said. "We want to make RoadRage.com the Facebook for race fans and anyone that enjoys the motoring lifestyle. We're growing fast and we want drag racing fans to get involved big time and let everyone know our sport is the best in the world."