ORANJESTAD, Aruba — Few drag racing teams truly fit the description of international racers. Only select number of teams compete professionally on an international level, and of those that do, few follow an entire circuit, competing for World Championships. The fact that the Pro Stock team from Aruba has done so for 13 years puts Team Aruba Drag Racing in a league all their own. Once more, Team Aruba is stepping up their game, this time by partnering with Aruba Airport Authority N.V. (www.airportaruba.com).
Aruba Airport Authority N.V. (AAA) is the sole international airport for the ‘One Happy Island’ and is, therefore the first impression international travelers and vacationers receive of Aruba. The airport has often been commended for their welcoming efforts, winning the Highly Commended for Excellence in Airport Marketing Award in February of 2015 and then in December it received an additional award for modeling airport safety promotion throughout the world.
“We are entering our 14th season of racing in the U.S. and we cannot be more proud to be representing both our country and our country’s airport in our racing efforts,” stated Team Aruba driver, Trevor Eman. “This is a huge milestone for us, because it is another big step in being able to promote solely Aruba in our racing efforts. Not only can we promote the destination, but we can now also better promote the ways of arriving and departing from our destination. This combination makes our racing organization an even bigger and better demonstration of the ‘international’ element within our racing series, the International Hot Rod Association.
“We cannot be more thankful to the entire team at Aruba Airport, consisting of Mr. James Fazio, CEO of AAA, Mrs. Barbara Brown, CCO at AAA and Mr. Hendrik Croes, spokesman for AAA and all the staff and personnel for their confidence and support in Team Aruba,” continued Eman.
“The fact that we have created a closer relationship with the airport makes it even more special. It is at the airport where we receive our first and last cheers for the weekend’s efforts. We travel so often that we always see the same faces at the ticket counter, the immigration counter, the security line, the departure halls, the food court, the arrival hall, you-name-it. All over the airport we have become familiar faces after 14 years of racing and that is where we get the biggest and final wave of well wishes before we take off to the States to attend our races. As soon as we land back in Aruba, we are given a pat on the back for our efforts abroad. All this is great motivation for our racing and promotion efforts in the U.S. We have greater confidence in promoting our island paradise home to U.S. vacationers and other international travelers knowing that their first impression of Aruba will be a good one at Queen Beatrix International Airport. Team Aruba is honored to have such a proactive partner with us on board for the 2016 racing season.”
Aruba Airport is quite excited about this new partnership as it will be beneficial for Team Aruba, the airport and the destination: “This partnership seems like a perfect match for us. We’re always looking for new ways to promote ourselves and our destination. Team Aruba is a key partner in promoting the destination Aruba at these races amongst the thousands of drag racing fans that visit and follow these races worldwide,” said AAA CEO Mr. James Fazio.
Team Aruba’s storied history in drag racing began in the mid-1980s with the founding of the Brute Racing Organization. The team began their winning ways in only their debut race, as driver Andre Loonstra captured the first of many trophies to come for Team Aruba in a 1979 Ford Fairmont.
From their humble beginnings in Super Gas, Brute Racing graduated to Pro Stock pursuits with a 1994 Ford Probe. The “Sun Express,” as it was nicknamed, broke all records (including its own track records) from mid 8 seconds to 7.40’s. They eventually became a two-car team, adding driver Burt Kelkboom who wielded a Ness Oldsmobile Cutlass they deemed “Midnight Run.” Brute Racing would make “Midnight Run” the first car in Aruba to break the six second and 200 mph barriers.
After years of practically running alone in Pro Stock on the island with its two racecars, Brute Racing decided to officially take the big step and compete in the Pro Stock category in the United States, under the Team Aruba banner, continuing with team drivers Loonstra and Kelkboom.
They tackled the incredibly tough professional category of Mountain Motor Pro Stock with the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) and also competed in the National Mustang Racers Association in 2004, where they achieved two National Event victories and two second place finishes.
Loonstra retired as driver after the 2004 season, but in 2007 Team Aruba again became a two-car team with young gun Trevor Eman taking over the ’04 Escort, while Kelkboom took over driving duties of Team Aruba’s new Rick Jones’ built Escort. At the age of 19, Eman became one of the youngest drivers to ever compete in Mountain Motor Pro Stock. Despite Eman’s youthfulness, his involvement with the team from a young age and extensive seat time in various racing machines already gave him many years experience. He was a natural fit in the Team Aruba driver’s seat and became the team’s sole driver as Kelkboom retired in 2007.
As the team grew in success and Pro Stock prowess, they knew that they had what it took to finish well in season points if they could follow the entire IHRA schedule. Their increased commitment paid off as they made history in Martin, Mich. when they qualified 16th with a 6.39 to create the first-ever all 6.30’s Pro Stock qualified field. Further to their credit, they qualified in seven out of nine events and finished 14th overall in IHRA points standings.
Team Aruba knew they were getting close to their first Pro Stock final round appearance. It came at the beginning of the 2009 season when they landed themselves in the final at the Bradenton Street Nationals in Bradenton, Florida. They scored their first runner up finish and continued the winning legacy of Team Aruba.
The 2009 season would also bring changes to Mountain Motor Pro Stock as the American Drag Racing League (ADRL), the premier eighth mile organization, started offering their version of the class: Extreme Pro Stock (XPS). Team Aruba was one of the first teams to compete in XPS. They also finished the IHRA season by qualifying at nine out of ten races entered.
Changes within the IHRA ownership took Pro Stock off the roster in 2010. In response, Team Aruba further increased their commitment to Pro Stock racing by becoming one of the founding members of the Mountain Motor Pro Stock Association (MMPSA), born to keep Mountain Motor racing alive on the quarter-mile. Their dedication paid off. They competed and qualified for all 15 races contested (ten ADRL, five MMPSA). They finished a very respectable 8th in points in the MMPSA and 11th in ADRL.
In 2011, Team Aruba debuted a gorgeous 2011 Jerry Haas Mustang, that quickly became a fan favorite with its eye-catching design. Although the MMPSA did not contest any races that season, Team Aruba faithfully followed the ADRL schedule, again qualifying for every race entered and making a semi final finish at the Palm Beach, Flo. event. Their efforts throughout the season landed them in 9th place, their first top 10 points finish in the ADRL.
Few teams exhibit the same level of dedication and effort as Team Aruba in not only pursuing their own goals of Pro Stock accolades but also in promoting the sport of Drag Racing. Team Aruba goes above and beyond to incorporate industry-related and non-automotive sponsors and give them top return on investment. With face-to-face contact and unsurpassed activation efforts by Team Aruba, drag racing fans (the most brand-loyal in any market) quickly connect with the easily-identified Aruba.com machine and their associating sponsors. With thousands of highway miles covered each year from Florida to Texas, the East Coast and the Midwest, Team Aruba’s ‘rolling billboard,’ their colorful and well-branded Semi-rig, also provides easy exposure for sponsors.
The credit for these achievements can be dedicated to the all-Aruban team that spends countless hours of hard work traveling to and from the US for events and to maintain the racing operation.
In addition to their quest for a World Championship title, TEAM ARUBA also dedicates itself to promoting the beautiful island of Aruba. With friendly faces and a welcoming Palm Tree-adorned pit area, Team Aruba is a wonderful invitation to fans to find out more information about the island paradise. The team is the perfect representation of the “happy island,” doing their part to promote this beautiful island full of friendly faces.
Aruba Airport Authority N.V. is the sole international airport of the island nation of Aruba. It has entered into a partnership with Team Aruba Racing which is located in Union County. Through the partnership, Team Aruba will represent Aruba Airport and help promote it and Aruba itself in the United States of America.
Team Aruba Racing is a drag racing team based in Union County. It has recently entered into a partnership with Aruba Airport Authority N.V., the sole international airport of the island nation of Aruba. Through the partnership, Team Aruba will represent Aruba Airport and help promote it and Aruba itself in the United States of America.
This story was submitted by Team Aruba Racing.