Dave Connolly Case Study
Estimated reading time 5:30
Dave Connolly is keenly aware of the idiom, “The devil is in the details.” The iconic NHRA racer and crew chief uses an online spreadsheet to keep meticulous notes on every adjustment ever made to his cars. He tracks the weather like a meteorologist.
The overwhelming amount of data may seem like overkill, but it’s all part of a well-planned process. It’s also a key reason Dave Connolly has enjoyed such tremendous career success, whether navigating a race car in the role of a driver or tuning it as a crew chief. In bracket racing, stakes are high, and a thousandth of a second can be the difference between a big payout or collecting leftover scraps as an also-ran.
Connolly began his driving career in an array of sportsman and bracket racing classes before graduating to Pro Stock, where his 26 victories currently rank 10th all-time. He has won 30 NHRA national events over his career, including three at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. His 30 national event titles have covered four different classes.
A one-trick pony he is not. While behind the wheel of a 330-mph Top Fuel dragster, Dave Connolly appeared in three final rounds in 2015 as a member of Bob Vandergriff’s team. He is one of only seven drivers who have ever qualified in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock classes at a national event.
Shortly after joining Gray Motorsports as a crew chief, he helped guide Tanner Gray to the 2017 Auto Club Road to the Future award. He was also instrumental in helping Gray become NHRA’s youngest professional champion. When Gray Motorsports left drag racing following the 2018 season, Connolly signed on with KB Racing and the Summit Racing team of Greg Anderson and Jason Line.
Despite his commitments and demanding schedule, Connolly still competes in bracket racing when time allows. In 2020, he decided to switch from methanol to VP Racing Fuels Q15, which is a high-octane, oxygenated fuel. It’s known to be more consistent with weather changes, thus providing more consistency for bracket racing. Connolly quickly realized that Q15 offered significant advantages compared to methanol.
We had the chance to recently chat with Dave by phone to discuss his thoughts and insights since switching to Q15 high octane fuel.