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Local racer among the top dragsters in the nation

After 25 years of racing, Randy Pressel has passed down his passion to his daughter
by: Jeff Spiegel Randy Pressel and his daughter Nicole have made racing - and winning - a family affair

For most people, the idea of quality family time involves safety and relaxation. For the Estacada-based Pressel family, things look a little bit different.

Instead of picnics and theme parks, this family goes drag racing.

Randy has been racing now for 25 years, and after time spent mud racing and on a circle track, Randy fell in love with the sport of drag racing.

'I always wanted to play with hot rods when I was younger, but it always got me in trouble,' Randy said jokingly.

Fortunately for Pressel's kids, they don't have the same problem their dad did. The perfect example is Randy's daughter, Nicole, who bought her 1963 Chevy Nova for $700.

'I've been racing for eight years now, so ever since I could drive, and the best part was getting my own car done, which we built from the ground up,' she said, 'and the finishing touch came when my dad surprised me with an engine for my birthday.'

While Nicole hasn't been racing nearly as long as her dad, one thing she's hoping to pick up from him is his success.

Randy currently races in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in the top dragster series, where he currently sits in fifth out of 64 drivers in the Northwest division.

'There are seven divisions that cover all of the United States and Canada, and the division we're in covers northern California, the Pacific Northwest and Canada,' he said.

After finishing sixth the past three seasons, Pressel has reason to believe this year will be different. Part of that is because he's coming off what he calls the best performance of his life.

Three weeks ago, Pressel traveled down to Sonoma, Calif., for the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals, where he advanced all the way to the semifinals before being eliminated. The attendance at the race in Sonoma was estimated at 10,000 people.

While advancing to the semi-finals in nationals is nice, the biggest victory of Pressel's career came in a race in Spokane when he won the industry's most coveted trophy - a 'Wally.'

'It's the ultimate trophy in drag racing, and I got one,' he said, 'because even though we're a small-time bunch for running top dragster, when that light turns green it doesn't matter.'

As far as personal records go, Pressel's best time in his dragster was 6.93 seconds over a quarter-mile in which the car reached a speed of 198 mph. In his 1964 Chevy Nova, Pressel has clocked a quarter-mile time of 9.6 seconds at a speed of 143 mph.

Pressel, however, learned earlier this year that he doesn't need to hit high speeds in order to enjoy himself.

'I got the chance to run the Estacada Parade this year, and it was an absolute blast,' he said, 'but unfortunately we didn't make the whole loop because the gas tank only holds 5 gallons.'

Giving back to and staying plugged into the Estacada community is a big deal for Pressel, and his appearance in the parade was just a small part of that.

'I couldn't do this without the support of the people of Estacada because my clients and sponsors are the ones that allow me to do this,' he said.

Pressel owns Topline Automotive in Estacada, and his car is sponsored by Auto Sports of Oregon and the High Cascade Snowboard Camp.