It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to write new blog for NHRA.com but if you’ve been following the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car series you know that I’ve had my hands full pretty much all season trying to make the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang competitive.
As a fan of professional drag racing, you know how difficult this sport is. If it was easy, the best Funny Car driver in history – John Force – would win every race based on pure talent.
But it’s not easy.
There is such a fine line in nitro Funny Car racing between maintaining traction for the full 1,000 feet and doing so competitively. We’re not going out there to run slow. We’re going out there to win races. Clearly that puts you on the edge of smoking the tires on the track. But when you’re up against John, Tim Wilkerson or these other drivers and cars that are capable of putting up big numbers, you don’t want to run 4.200 and get beat by four car lengths. You want to go out there and press but press responsibly. We’ve been too aggressive of late.
I really thought we would hit our stride in Bristol. Leaving Englishtown, as disappointed as we were, I really felt we were going in the right direction. Unfortunately we didn’t get the results we wanted in Bristol.
The good news is there’s a lot of time left in the season to get into the Top 10. There are a lot of races and plenty of rounds remaining. We’ve got the car that we need to have. I’m as confident as I’ve ever been behind the wheel.
From the outside looking in it probably looks like we’ve bumped our heads and don’t know what we’re doing. The truth is we have a lot of talented people who know exactly what they’re doing. We’ve worked so hard and lost so much sleep recently and have nothing to show for it, but the guys on this team who look at the data and work on this race car know positively how close we are to really turning this corner.
We’re to the point that we’re not making wholesale changes between races, we’re just picking away at it to get the balance we need with this car. We’ve got to find that balance and I’m very confident that we’re very close to finding that balance.
As I write this, we’re looking forward to the race in Epping, N.H., which my family and I, along with a lot of other people, helped make possible last year. The fans in New England were great last year and really turned out for the race. Presale tickets for this year are selling well and I know we’ll have a huge crowd there this weekend.
The New England Dragway is a special place for me since it’s the first place I ever drove down a drag strip. Because we live and work so close to Epping, there are thousands of people there who know me, know my family and want to see our team do well. Not that any race has more pressure than another, but we want to have a good weekend at Epping.
Pre-season testing in racing is like spring training for baseball or summer camp for football. The slate is clean, everyone has the same record and sprits are high. You can feel the positive energy in the air.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang Funny Car team has every reason to be positive going into 2014. We made a clutch and a set up change in mid season last year, right before Las Vegas, and everything really came together during the West Coast swing that followed. We reached the finals in Denver and Seattle and then in Chicago we were the first Ford in the threes with a 3.988 and only the sixth car to do that in Funny Car history.
We had some consistency problems toward the end of the year and just missed making the Countdown, but the changes we made had given us the desired results. So we went into pre-season testing in south Florida this year needing to do a better job with the consistency of our car. It’s a very, very fickle machine and requires a lot of work to get these things consistent. I was eager to get the team down there and get in a dozen or more runs using the set up we’re going to run the year with. It’s a big deal.
We had a great first day of testing. There’s nothing like the first side by side run of the year! We made a lot of runs working on the new set up for 2014 and it all came together Friday night when we ran a 4.067 at 314.46 mph, good for 7th quickest of the day.
On the final day of testing, we were one of three teams to post a pass in the four second range with a 4.084 run at 314.39 mph, 6th best of the day.
It was the best opening test session we’ve ever had! Most of what we wanted to test worked as planned. We’re looking forward to building on that momentum in Pomona!
Later in the season, July 18-20 to be exact, one child with type 1 diabetes (T1D) will win a trip to the Mile High NHRA Nationals in Denver to see the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car race clad in his or her contest-winning design. Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) and its brands Motorcraft, the official recommended aftermarket part for Ford vehicles, and Quick Lane are running this contest for the seventh consecutive year.
The designs these kids come up with are just incredible. It really is an honor to help spread the word about JDRF and tell the story of what these kids live with everyday. Their strength is amazing.
Stay tuned for more information about the JDRF contest and more from Team Tasca and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car Team.
You don’t have to look far to find a saying that tells you how you should act when something happens to you like missing the playoffs in a sport you’ve made your life. You hear so many these days they’re almost cliché, but the thing is, most of them are true.
There’s the one about how many times you fall down vs. how many times you get up. Henry Ford once said “The short successes that can be gained in a brief time and without difficulty are not worth much” and you can see how his strategy played out. I’m in Dearborn, Mich. this week to talk about the products that are coming out with his name on them – 111 years after he won the race that got enough attention and capital for him to found Ford Motor Company, after going bankrupt.
So in the grand scheme of things, six years into my racing career really isn’t a long time. Just ask John Force. He raced for 12 years before he won an NHRA championship.
Still, when you put your heart and soul into something like this Motorcraft/Quick Lane team does, it’s easy to forget that sometimes you just have to wait and keep working hard, knowing that sooner or later the odds will fall your way.
In the meantime, we’re ready to attack the last six races of the year and bring home a few Wallys along the way.
After Indianapolis, my guys drove straight to Rhode Island for the 16th-annual Tasca Ford Mustang Car Show, to benefit the Rhode Island Food Bank. More than 250 cars showed up and we raised a ton of food for the families in the area, so that was a good way of putting what had happened in Indy into perspective for us.
I have to thank John Force and Tim Wilkerson for coming out and entertaining the fans. Everyone had a good time.
My team and I fired up our Motorcraft/Quick Lane car at the car show and, at home, boiled some lobster and played football to blow off some steam
Now we’re ready to race in Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, St. Louis and Reading, Pa. in the next four weeks, then close out the season in Las Vegas and Pomona, Calif., where it all started.
It’s August. How did that happen? Being out here on the road, the time goes by so fast.
So let’s get the obvious topic out of the way first. By now, you’ve probably heard we have some big things coming up for our team in the next few years. Ford is shifting to the NHRA Sportsman classes, which means we’ll have announcements to make. Ford has always meant a lot to my family and will continue to, and I respect decisions that have been made. However, Tasca Racing has no plans on getting out of the sport and we'll announce some exciting news next season.
As always I’m focused on racing.
I had the best Western Swing of my career. We runnered-up at the first and last stops of the three-race trek, in Denver and Seattle. Talk about a great stretch for us. I’ve said it many times – I have the best car and best team of my career right now. We still have our struggles with smoking the tires and we still have work to do, but that’s something that’s true for all of us NHRA Funny Car teams out there. It’s a dogfight in our class. We’re out there every weekend fighting for points against every other team that wants the Wally as bad as we do. We hurt some engines in Seattle and my guys have been working hard giving me the best Mustang Funny Car we can have. We’re seeing results.
I think everyone’s happy to get a weekend off after the Swing. Time off doesn’t happen too much, which I actually like. I’m always thinking about the next race on the schedule; the next time I’ll get in my car. I don’t like to have too much time off away from the track.
Next up is Brainerd, Minn. I haven’t won there yet and I think we should change that. If you’ve never been to the race there, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. If you’ve heard stories about it, most of them are probably true!
Before we know it, we’ll be in Indy. We’re already talking about that race and the cut off for the playoffs. We made a big move in points in Seattle (up to ninth from 11th) and we’re only three points behind Tim Wilkerson, who’s eighth. In Seattle, all of us drivers around the 10th-place “bump” were on the same side of the ladder and it felt great to get to control our own destiny and make it all the way to the final round. Wins are tough to come by in this sport, but we’re all confident in our team and our car.