Jason Hamstra proved he was capable of winning a world championship in the American Drag Racing League's (ADRL) Pro Extreme class after being named the 2009 ADRL Rookie of the Year.
That potential was out in full force in 2011, as Hamstra was the wire-to-wire leader during the calendar year, claiming his first world championship in the ADRL's quickest and fastest class.
"This was the year you had always dreamed you would have. I always wanted to come out to a national series and put the No. 1 on the car the next season," Hamstra said. "I would say it was pretty much a dream season for me and my family. It couldn't have played out a whole lot better."
The dream season started in impressive fashion and the Demotte, Ind., native never looked back, putting together a season full of consistent runs.
It led to two wins, two finals appearances and four semifinals appearances, advancing to the semifinals in all but one race of a standout and memorable season.
But it all started in Houston in March when Hamstra and his Andy McCoy Race Cars '70 Duster came out in full force at Dragpalooza VII.
The family-based team won right off the bat and Hamstra delivered a showing that would become par for his 2011 course, running a 3.68 at nearly 210 miles per hour to knock off former world champion Todd Tutterow in the finals.
"We had a great year all season, starting it off with so much success, that kind of set the tone for things," Hamstra said. "We were ecstatic after that first race and for it all to come together, it was awesome.
"That was a good way to start us and it put us in good shape."
Two other unforgettable moments stood out above the rest for Hamstra.
The first came in July when Hamstra put on a remarkable show in front of a huge gathering of friends and family at his hometown ADRL track, U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Mich.
With a new patriotic red, white and blue paint scheme, Hamstra put together a handful of clutch performances to win the Summer Drags, again knocking off Tutterow in the finals.
Four semifinal appearances followed to end the season, and Hamstra officially clinched the long-awaited and hard-earned championship at last week's LenMar Motorsports ADRL World Finals VII presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
Hamstra and company were finally able to celebrate at Texas Motorplex, experiencing a moment he had hoped for during the off-season.
"Andy (McCoy) kind of told us over the winter that we were going to go for it and he thought we had a shot, but you never know in this class," Hamstra said. "We had people nipping at our heels all year and we didn't think we had it wrapped up until we had it clinched.
"The car worked good and went down the track most of the time, so that definitely helped out."
Using a conservative approach on the Duster led to big payoffs, including the $75,000 prize for winning the Pro Extreme championship.
But conservative didn't mean unimpressive, as Hamstra ran as quick as 3.62 (at 210 miles per hour) during the season and was consistently in the 3.60s
Every run at Texas Motorplex was in the 3.60s, and that workmanlike approach led to the biggest moment in Hamstra's young but already accomplished racing career.
"It's been a great year and we had a lot of support," Hamstra said. "Everything worked out well and it was just a lot of fun.
"It was a lot of hard work for the team to put together a year like we did, but it was a good deal for everyone."