Bob Vandergriff

(Image/Competition Plus)

NHRA team owner Bob Vandergriff announced his retirement unexpectedly Monday, leaving Top Fuel drivers Dave Connolly and Leah Pritchett without rides in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series.

Bob Vandergriff Racing (BVR) is out of business, and all employees have been let go, according to an NHRA report.

“I’ve been considering retirement for a few years now, and I’ve actually done it once already when I retired from the driver’s seat at the end of the 2014 season. Now it’s time to retire from the sport altogether. The recent unexpected death of BVR supporter and close friend Josh Comstock, from C&J Energy Services, has made me reflect and seriously reevaluate my priorities in life,” Vandergriff said in a statement. “I’ve missed a lot of things in my children’s lives over the years and the desire to spend more time at home with my family has weighed on me greatly the last few years and when combined with the struggles the oil and gas industry has been facing over the last 12-18 months it seemed like now was the right time to retire. C&J Energy Services CEO Randy McMullen and I sat down recently, and after lengthy discussions he was in agreement and fully supported my decision.”

Dave Connolly and Leah Pritchett

Dave Connolly and Leah Pritchett

Connolly is currently seventh in the Top Fuel point standings. Pritchett is 10th, but won her first career Mello Yello series national event in February at the NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, AZ.

Vandergriff spent much of his life around drag racing because his father, Bob Vandergriff Sr., was the advertising director for NHRA’s National Dragster publication before he bought Hedman Hedders in 1978. He has three wins as an NHRA Top Fuel driver.

Vandergriff expressed gratitude to the people who have helped him throughout his 22 years in drag racing.

“I want to thank everyone who supported BVR, from our sponsors, to our vendors, employees, and most of all my father Bob Vandergriff Sr.,” he said. “My father has been the bedrock throughout my career and, without any hesitation, he has supported our efforts through the many challenges we’ve faced over the years. We’ve had a tremendous group of people at BVR and I expect and wish for great things in the future for each and every one of them. I’ve enjoyed spending the last 22 years of my life in drag racing. I owe a lot to the sport, its fans, and the individuals who have who played key roles in my career.”