Tripp Breitkreitz already has an edge competing against fellow NHRA Jr. Dragster racers and vows he won’t apply any of the high-tech info at a dragstrip after having spent the week before the Fourth of July with some of the world’s top aeronautical engineers and technicians in Washington D.C.
“I learned about getting into space with a lot of smart kids, but I don’t plan to be flying in the Jr. Dragster,” said the 15-year-old sophomore at Casa Grande Union High School about 30 miles south of Phoenix. The honor student was invited to attend the Aerospace portion of the National Student Leadership Conference at American University.
“My grandpa would have followed me around Washington.”
Breitkreitz has spent much of the past 11 years flying in his half-scale dragster but keeps his rear slicks firmly planted on the asphalt. He owns eight NHRA Wally event trophies and is the reigning track champion at Wild Horse Pass Motor Sports Park south of Phoenix.
Tripp devotes his young life to God, his family, drag racing and school.
He also is among the most successful Jr. drag racers in the country. Much of the credit for that is owed to his late grandfather, John Breitkreitz, who died unexpectedly on March 31, 2018 – a day before Tripp’s 14th Birthday.
The loss of the family patriarch was a shock, and Tripp’s first reaction was to declare he would never race again.
“He really took it hard,” his mom and “mom-ager” Amy said of her father’s passing at the age of 67. “But it didn’t take Tripp long to realize that would be the last thing his ‘Pappy’ would want.”
“I didn’t want to get back in the car,” Tripp said. “(Racing) was something WE did.
Three weeks after his grandfather’s passing – Tripp was back in the dragster at Tucson Dragway and won two trophies in the Desert Storm Shootout, one being his sixth Wally.
“He’d have been proud. We had won on one day but never doubled-up. That was something I’d never done before,” Tripp said, with Amy adding, “His Pappy is always riding with him.”
Tripp’s next event is the NHRA Division 7 West Coast Jr. Dragster Spectacular Sept. 20-22 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The momentum continued and culminated with Tripp and his Tripp Breitkreitz Racing team winning the 2019 Jr. Dragster season championship for 13-17 year olds at Wild Horse Pass Motor Sports Park.
“We’d won Wallys, the age group race at the Western Conference Finals but were chasing a track championship.”
Tripp’s racing destiny was set before he was born when his mom attended the 2004 NHRA Arizona Nationals held at the Motorsports Park which, at the time, was called Firebird International Raceway.
Amy was 8½ months pregnant at the time, and she says, when they fired the Funny Cars at the starting line, the concussion pushed all of the air out of her lungs. “For the rest of the day, [Tripp] was very calm and relaxed.”
At that moment, she knew that he would love racing and that he would need a name to reflect that. She picked “Tripp” to honor Funny Car veteran and Arizona racing legend Tripp Shumake.
Her son already had the right genes. Pappy, who was part owner of Gallo Construction in Casa Grande, had been racing most of Amy’s life; in the desert, on circle tracks and eventually dragstrips in his 1968 Dodge Dart Super Gas racer that he completely restored into a serious drag car.
It is a car that Tripp will begin racing next year when he turns 16.
By then, he’ll be a veteran drag racer of 12 years.
At age 4, when NHRA mandated a minimum age of 8 to drive a half-scale Jr. Dragster (now it is 5), Pappy bought one of the sleek rails and along with Tripp’s uncle Michael Breitkreitz, began teaching him how to handle the 60-mph dragster in front of Gallo Construction.
“My dad and brother [Michael] would start the car then lift the rear end off the ground and tell Tripp to accelerate. Then they would drop it with the tires spinning so he could learn how to handle it.” She added he’d practice burnouts and starting with an electronic Christmas Tree starting system on a concrete pad in front of her dad’s shop.
But he was racing on a dragstrip before that. He started racing in the Big Wheel Class at Firebird at age 3. His first official Jr. Dragster race was in 2013.
photos courtesy of Tripp Breitkreitz Racing on Facebook