UPS Pilot Scott Farley Talks Stepping Into NHRA Dragster

Scott Farley says driving an NHRA car has a lot of similarities with flying a big jet. “It’s very similar processing stuff,” he says. That’s good, because he’s spent 12,000 hours in the air and currently operates tri-engined MD-11s on trans-pacific routes for FedEx.

Cars have always been his passion. From a teenager working as a mechanic at his local Chrysler dealership to earn enough money to start a career in flying, he’s continued to race cars between flights. Most recently, he modified his Camaro Pro Mod to run the quarter mile in 5 seconds. Now, he’s stepping into a Top Fuel NHRA car to compete on the global stage.

He’s made 20 passes in that car to meet his license requirements. He said “I did have that ‘What did I get myself into?’ moment the first time we started the car on nitro, but I love it.” He’s working with Terry Haddock, who has a record of turning prospective drivers into Top Fuel competitors. “He’s the captain, I’m the learning copilot,” said Farley. “What he says goes and it has been working.”

Farley won’t be Haddock’s next great success, at least this year: with his flight schedule, he’s only able to commit to three events. That includes this weekend’s Winternationals at Auto Club Speedway in California.

Despite being “obviously two different machines,” Farley says flying an airplane “is all about procedure, procedure, procedure.” And that’s especially the case with emergency procedures: “I’ve had engines on fire. I’ve had engine failures. We’ve had wheels separate from the airplane, and a lot of it is calm — just prioritize and let everything settle before you do anything big and that transfers as well.” Farley will be hoping not to be involved in a big crash, but if that’s the case, he thinks he’ll be prepared.

Owen Johnson