- Driver: Richie Crampton
- Date of birth: July 9, 1980
- Hometown: Adelaide, South Australia
- Resides: Indianapolis
- Sponsor/Car: GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster
- Crew chief: Aaron Brooks
- Assistant crew chief: Rod Centorbi
- Career wins: 7
- No. 1 Qualifier Awards: 2
- Career best elapsed time: 3.695 (Brainerd, 2015)
- Career best top speed: 328.54 (Brainerd, 2014)
For Richie Crampton, what started as a favor to car owner Morgan Lucas has blossomed into an exciting new chapter of his NHRA career.
Crampton has been a member of Morgan Lucas Racing since its inception in 1997, serving as a clutch specialist and car chief on the GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster.
In the span of a few dizzying weeks, Crampton went from crew member to Lucas' heir apparent behind the wheel of the GEICO dragster.
The native Australian has longed to resume driving competitively since coming to America but that dream had to be put on the back burner while he paid his dues at the top level of the sport.
"I wanted to start racing again," Crampton said. "I really missed it. I'd taken the first steps to getting my Top Fuel license by paying for everything out of my own pocket. I wanted to show everyone I was willing to do whatever it took to start driving again."
MLR discovered in the middle of the 2013 season that it would be convenient to have someone within the organization with a Top Fuel license after team driver Brandon Bernstein was sidelined for a number of races.
"Morgan knew I wanted to drive, and if I had my license he wouldn't have to outsource in situations when we needed a substitute," Crampton said. "Not just filling in for Brandon if he was hurt but times when we needed to test and maybe one of the regular drivers weren't available."
Then something happened that made Crampton feel like he'd hit the lottery.
After a lot of personal reflection, Lucas made the decision to temporarily step away from full-time racing to help learn the family business, Lucas Oil, which left the seat of the GEICO dragster open. After reviewing a list of candidates, Crampton was the top choice.
"It was surreal," Crampton said. "I realized I was close to being able to race one of these cars, but I didn't expect everything to fall my way so quickly."
Although he'll be a rookie in 2014, cars and making them run faster have always been a part of Crampton's life. "My dad ran a carburetor repair shop back home, so I would help out around the shop on Saturdays," Crampton said. "We'd work on all kinds of cars, but it was most fun to help work on the hot rods that people would bring in."
Crampton's love for cars quickly turned into a passion for racing them.
"Watching the races and going to them as a kid really started it, but there was no Jr. Dragster league at the time in Australia," Crampton said. "So my dad set me up with the next best thing at the time for kid, which was a go-kart. Part of the ground rules, however, was that I was in charge of cleaning it, maintaining it and making sure it was running right.
"I did that until I was 14 or so when I started to show more of an interest in drag racing. We got a car that we eventually built into a seven-second drag car."
When his local dragstrip closed in 2002, he was in his early 20s and started on the path that would eventually lead him to the U.S.
"I moved to Sydney to work with a Top Fuel team as a crew member," Crampton said. "That team decided to race in the NHRA, and I traveled along with them. I worked for them that season. When they decided to go back to Australia at the end of that year, I wasn't ready to go back.
"Thankfully I'd made enough contacts with teams over here that I was able to get a job and stay in America."
Crampton is looking forward to the challenge of being an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series driver with the same group he's been working with for more than seven years.
"It's going to be strange to be going to the track without Morgan around," Crampton said. "He's been the backbone of the team. It's been kind of like racing with one of your best friends.
"I'm willing to help out my replacement on the clutch with any advice they are looking for. The team chemistry is there, and this car won&rsqu o;t miss a beat even though I'll be a rookie. I'll just need to be the best I can be and limit my mistakes."
- 2015: Finished Third in the World Championship
- 2014: NHRA Rookie of the Year
- 2014: Won the 60th US Nationals
- 2014: First event Win Englishtown, NJ becoming the 100th different driver to win in the Top Fuel Category
- 2014: NHRA Rookie of the Year; Won U.S Nationals in Indianapolis, IN; Won Toyota Summernationals in Englishtown, N.J.; Qualified for Traxxas Shootout with Englishtown victory; Qualified for Countdown to 1 Championship playoffs
- Marital status: Engaged to Stephanie Laski; The couple has a daughter, Emma
- Height/weight: 5-foot-9, 170 lbs.
- Hobbies: Wakeboarding, golf
- Notable: Began drag racing in his native Australia in Supercharged Outlaw class; Licensed in Super Comp and Top Alcohol Dragster; Joined Morgan Lucas Racing in 2007, working as clutch specialist, fabricator and car chief.