How a boy from Adelaide went from crewing on Top Fuel dragsters to driving them – and winning!


ADELAIDE-born Richie Crampton has won his third NHRA meeting in Las Vegas on the weekend. Crampton defeated three-time NHRA champion Larry Dixon in the final, with a 3.90sec pass at 301mph over the standing 1000ft.

While it might seem like Crampton has come from nowhere to the point where he has now equalled Dave Grubnic’s record for the most NHRA event wins by an Australian, it has been a long time coming. Richie got his start racing go-karts at nine years old, before stepping up into an FC Holden wagon that morphed from being his intended street car into a Supercharged Outlaws beast that ran a best of 7.60@170mph by the time he was 21.

When racing stopped at AIR, Richie moved to Sydney to work with Cowin Family Racing. He spent two years crewing on John Cowin’s Top Fuel car and then joined the team when Andrew Cowin campaigned in the US in 2004. He also earned his Top Alcohol licence while working at Bill Blomgren’s California Drag Racing School.

After the Cowins wound up their American operation, Crampton stayed in the US to chase his Top Fuel dreams, joining Morgan Lucas Racing as a crew member in 2007. He took the opportunity to refresh his Top Alcohol licence in 2013 and, shortly afterwards, gained his Top Fuel licence as well. The idea was that Crampton would be available as a replacement on short notice, but when Morgan Lucas decided to step away from full-time racing to concentrate on the family business in late 2013, he offered Crampton a full-time drive for the 2014 season and beyond.

The Aussie repaid Lucas’s faith by first winning the Summernationals in Englishtown, and then the 60th US Nationals in Indianapolis. Crampton is the first Aussie ever to win the US Nationals, and is said to be only the second driver to win the event while also having a hand in building their own car – the other being Don ‘Big Daddy’ Garlits. To top it off, he won the NHRA’s Road to the Future award for 2014. Go you good thing!

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