Chris Hall and his '70 Chevy Camaro have experienced some major victories together in life.
He bought it after his high school graduation and took his wife out on their first date in the car. Later, they drove it to the store to pick out engagement rings.
Now Hall has become a world-champion drag racer in the blue speedster -- winning the World Finals Nitro Jam in Richmond, Va., in October.
Hall has had a penchant for speed and steel since he first went to the old Bonneville Raceways with his Dad when he was 7 years old.
"I just liked fast cars after that," said Hall, of Brigham City.
Drag racing is a sport where hundredths or thousandths of a second can be the difference between victory and defeat. But the fastest car doesn't win in bracket drag racing. Instead, each driver determines a "dial-in," an estimate of what his/her car will run, down to hundredths of a second. The winner is the one who crosses the finish line first without going faster than the dial-in time.
Hall has become a veteran, with several local championships in bracket drag racing at Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City.
To race for a world championship, however, requires a lot of luck. The champion racer from Utah is entered into a drawing with dozens of other racers from across the country who do not have a divisional race to make it to the Nitro Jam.
"Chris came home for lunch one day and the phone rang," said his wife, Robin Hall. "She (an IHRA official) was calling him to invite him to come as the lotto pick. And he said, 'I am going to have to think about it and call you back.'
"And I am like 'What are you doing? This is a world championship. You are going to call her back.' "
Mark this one up to naivete. Hall and Rocky Mountain Raceways were new IHRA members this year.
Hall said he didn't realize the magnitude of the race, and that a world championship was at stake. He quickly called back after realizing his mistake.
He loaded the Camaro on an open trailer and the family -- his wife, parents and his biggest racing fan, daughter Ashley -- took the long road trip of more than 35 hours and 2,300 miles.
"The anticipation of getting there was awesome," Hall said. "We did really well for the first two days. The third day was pretty good, up until halfway. The last 100 miles was brutal."
The Hall family had to wait longer when storms postponed racing a day.
When he got his shot, he quickly found how altitude was going to play into the weekend. The altitude at West Valley's racetrack is over 4,800 feet. Virginia checks in at just 188 feet, which affects the speed -- lower altitude equals more speed.
"It was an educated guess," Hall said as he had to make major adjustments throughout time trials.
Racers also battled high winds throughout the day.
"The first round came around, and the wind just totally stopped. It was getting cool and the sun was going down," Hall said.
He sat in his car and watched the first pair race, noticing that both racers went too fast. Hall knew he and Jay Robinson, his opponent, were going to do the same. He needed an unorthodox approach to win the round.
"I thought right off the bat -- I have got to let him take the stripe," Hall said. That idea goes against everything a racer does. He was going to let Robinson finish first, and in turn, lose for going quicker than his estimated time.
Both cars launched when the green bulb lit, and Hall caught up to his opponent.
"I got right there where his front tires were ahead of mine and I dumped the brakes to let him go out at the last second," Hall said.
Both drivers ran too quick, with Robinson going two-hundredths quicker. It was enough to hand Hall the win to advance to the semifinals.
Even with the stress of letting a competitor go faster, Hall said he was maintaining his sanity during the biggest race of his life -- with some help from his wife, card-game comparisons and Life Savers.
"He does really well at Uno," said Robin Hall. "I kept telling him it's just like an Uno game. 'You wouldn't get nervous in an Uno game would you?' "
Chris Hall added: "I had mentally prepared myself for five weeks. I could just mentally prepare myself for any scenario. And it was the Life Savers she was giving me."
It paid off. He won in the second round and went into the finals.
Hall has raced in big moments, but nothing compared to his next quarter-mile.
"I just said to myself I have got to regain my composure and I just have to go out and do it. I had a few Life Savers going into the finals."
The racer hit all of his marks from the start, while his opponent, Steve Alford, struggled after a late start.
"All of the sudden, I realized that I had won it and I hadn't even crossed the finish line yet," Hall said.
The champion coasted down the shutdown area with his wife cheering on the starting line. His daughter joined in the cheers from the racing tower.
"When were up in the tower and I watched his win light come on, someone picked me up and we were shouting at the top of our lungs," said Ashley Hall.
Hall was towed to the Winner's Circle to be interviewed by the Speed Channel. But something was missing.
"Halfway through the interview, I stopped him. I said 'Where is my family?' " Hall said.
The interviewer asked for his family, who had been stopped at the gate. The family jostled their champion to the ground.
Hall's prize included a $10,000 check, a brand-new racing trailer, jacket, ring and a golf cart.
The family's Brigham City neighborhood decorated the house and their vehicles with World Champion signs.
The return trip was easier. Even taking the wrong freeway in Wyoming and adding 150 miles couldn't dampen the euphoria.
"I mentioned to him that the trip back from Virginia is going to be terrible," Robin Hall said.
"He looked at me and said, 'Not if you win' -- and he was exactly right."