Since you last saw us at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, we’ve been flat-out getting ready for the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
We’ve gotten our new cars out, our engines put together and our Motorcraft/Quick Lane MACK Pinnacle haulers vinyled with the new look.
In case you didn’t see our special announcement last year, for the first time in 20 years our Funny Car and the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series will look the same – well, as close as we can make a Funny Car and NASCAR stock car look alike.
We’re calling it the “Motorcraft Legacy” paint scheme and using it as a reminder of all of the talented drivers who have raced for Motorcraft and Quick Lane in the past. I have to say, it’s pretty cool to follow in the footsteps of my drag racing hero Bob Glidden and Kenny Bernstein. History is really important to Ford and the people behind Motorcraft, the official recommended aftermarket part for Ford vehicles, are proud to talk about how they fit into it. I grew up with both Motorcraft and Ford so I’m happy to tell the story.
I did take some time off with the family. That’s important to us. After celebrating Christmas with our extended families in Rhode Island (I got a plastic display case for my cowboy hat from Winners Circle in Dallas!), my wife and I took the boys to Orlando for New Year’s Eve. We had a great time at Universal Studios. Three of our boys are so busy with hockey and school that it was like a mid-season vacation for them, too.
We had a great time with the kids. It’s nice to have a little downtime with the family, but for me, for any racer, it’s about getting back to racing and getting back to the fans. It’s no secret we didn’t have the 2012 season we wanted. I’ve never looked more forward to a season more than this season. Having a down year is that much more motivating.
Now my family and I are back in our regular routine. I’m already in South Florida with the team doing our last-minute testing. If you’ve never been to the PRO Winter Warmup, that’s a drag race you should add to the list. First, if you live in the north like me, it’s nice to get to warm temperatures. Second, by the time mid-January comes around we’re all ready for a good dose of nitro, and I can tell you as a driver, the more time I spend in the seat the better. The stands are really packed for the Warmup and the fans are awesome. They stop by all of our pits to talk racing, get some autographs and hear the latest before the first NHRA race of the year in Pomona, Calif.
Right before Christmas, my mom, dad and son Bob IV went to MACK Trucks Headquarters in Allentown, Pa. to unveil our new SmartWay-certified MACK Pinnacle Axle Back model sleepers. MACK is a great company and American brand and I’ve been really impressed with their entire operation, from the products to the people who work there. I never thought I’d be able to find a tractor company I’d be excited about as much as I am about MACK, but to meet the team there and learn about the history of the company, what makes the Bulldog on the hood of that tractor special, has been a great experience for me.
It was fun to take it around the test track and get some seat time in front of a tractor trailer on extreme hills, banking and through different stopping drills. To me, it was just cool to be behind the wheel of a tractor trailer with mDRIVE technology.
From MACK, we went right to South Florida for testing in December. The bottom line is that December test is important for trying things out of the box, because once you get to the January test, you have to have a good idea of what you’re doing in Pomona. Otherwise, if you don’t have a direction yet, you’re practically testing at the first race of the year.
So now we’ll focus on the testing here in South Florida and after that I head to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, where Ford just unveiled the new Atlas concept vehicle. Take a look if you get the chance – it’s one mean looking truck. Some of the styling and technology on Atlas may land in Ford’s F-150s, so check out the photos online if you have the chance. I’m looking forward to seeing that and the 2013 GT500 Shelby Super Snake. First, though, I have a few more laps to make in my 8,000 Mustang Funny Car.
This month, I’ve been hearing a lot about nine ladies dancing, 12 lords a’ leapin and a partridge in a pear tree – but honestly, who wants any of that?
My wish list this Christmas is a little bit different. There are the usual things…a new career best and lots of Wallys to haul around in my new Mack Trucks. If I could ask for anything, though, (and I can, because this is my column), here’s what would be on my list.
It’s a long song, so I’m starting with five. Humming along to yourself makes it more fun – especially in front of the coworkers:
Five Motorcraft Sparkplugs: Five cases, that is… do you see how many I need for my Funny Car?
Four Motorcraft brake pads: Nothing like a complete Motorcraft Brake Job to keep it safe. Maybe I’ll pick up four Quick Lane tires as well.
Three Oil Filters: So I only really need one, but I love looking at the Red Motorcraft Box.
Two Motorcraft wipers: It snows a lot in the northeast, so high-quality wipers are important. I like to check mine before the cold weather gets too bad. Luckily the Motorcraft Wipers have a wear indicator that makes them easy to check.
One Batt-er-y! To keep your heater running, you need a dependable battery. The Motorcraft Tested Tough Series really does the trick.
When Santa comes to Rhode Island, I hope that’s what he’s hauling in his Mack truck (I like to think Santa drives one of those too).
I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season.
I recently participated in T1D4ADAY – Type 1 for a Day, hosted by JDRF.
For one day, I “had” Type 1 (T1D). Now let me tell you, that saying about how you never know how someone else feels until you walk in their shoes? That’s true.
I’ve worked with JDRF through my sponsors Motorcraft and Quick Lane since 2008, with our race car design contest. Every year, either my Funny Car team or Wood Brothers Racing gets to compete with a special JDRF paint scheme that raises awareness and funds for a cure for T1D. Ford Motor Company is the largest global sponsor for JDRF and we are all happy to be part of that. Remember Libby Ledford and the “Our Everyday Heroes” car we ran in Norwalk this year? Libby won our contest in 2012.
I’ve always been blown away by the strength and self-control these kids have, and I’ve always had lots of respect for their families that support them.
I’ve never had a chance to walk in their shoes, though. Until this week.
JDRF set up a texting program that let anyone who cares about someone with T1D or is just curious really get what it’s like to live with it.
From the time I woke up until after I went to bed, I got texts. Now, these texts didn’t just remind me I had T1D for a day. No. These all demanded action on my part. I constantly had to think about, maintain and take action to keep my blood sugar levels where they needed to be.
The first text reminded me to take a blood meter, insulin injection tools and emergency glucose supplies to work with me. (Of course I didn’t really do these things – but the texts showed me what I would need to do if I had T1D).
Two texts later, I was reminded to “check” my blood sugar. It was high, for no reason, so I had to “take” an injection.
If I felt like even eating an apple, I had to make sure I could.
Let me tell you…there is no way you could experience T1D for a day and not walk away with respect for people who handle it for real. This really gave me a look at what goes through their minds every day.
We take the simplest things for granted sometimes. People with T1D have to calculate everything they eat and ultimately how much insulin to give themselves to keep their levels balanced.
It reinforced for me how important it is to carry that JDRF banner and help do our small part to help fund a cure.
For more information about T1D, check out JDRF online athttp://www.jdrf.org , on Facebook and Twitter (@JDRF).
Now it's off to Pomona. It has been a very busy couple of weeks. It feels like we've been non-stop since the Western Swing. After the Reading race I flew to Charlotte to put the finishing touches on our all new 2013 paint scheme. I think it came out awesome! It will be the first time The Wood Brothers 21 Ford Fusion and our Mustang will look very similar in design.
From there I headed out to the Vegas race. It ended up being one of the most competitive qualifying sessions of all time, just .07 of a second separated the No. 1 qualifier to No. 16. We made a great opening run. We ran low ET of any car in the right lane, but unfortunately we raced Cruz Pedregon, who ran low ET of the weekend against us. After the race we tested on Monday and continued to work on our set-up for next season.
Then it was off to SEMA. I look forward to this show all year. The creativity of the men and women in the automotive industry always amazes me.
If you've never been and can get credentials, you have to attend it at least one time. To see some of the custom vehicles people create is unbelievable! The big news for Ford was the announcement of a concept twin turbo Eco Boost Cobra Jet. I took part in the unveiling. What an awesome looking car!
Straight from Vegas I headed to Chicago to see my son, Bob IV, and his team play in a worldwide hockey tournament. It was great to be able to spend some one-on-one time with my son Bobby. With four boys I don't often get time to spend with just one of my kids. Normally we are all together.
We did some sight-seeing. We went to the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower). Once we got to the top there were glass walkouts. Bobby was fearless. He walked right out onto it. Not for me. I would much prefer being on fire at 300 mph then walk out onto a glass panel at the top of the Willis Tower!
As for the hockey games, well, let’s just say the level of competition was unreal. It would be like me heading to Pomona with a 3 cylinder gas engine in my Mustang. The outcome wouldn't be pretty...
After that, I finally got home after 13 days on the road. Even if it was only for two days, it was great to see the rest of the family and get caught back at the office. While I was gone we got the all new CMax in at the dealership. It is Ford's exclusive Hybrid vehicle. I had to take one for a spin. What a great car to drive! If you’re in the market for one of the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road you have to check it out!
As I type this I'm flying at 36,000 feet heading to Pomona. We have certainly not had the season we hoped for, but I can't think of a better way to head into the off-season than winning the last race of the year! The best is yet to come. Thanks for all of your support this season.
It’s playoffs time, and we’re spoilers. Let me tell you two things about being in our shoes: No. 1, I’d be lying if I said we aren’t disappointed; and No. 2, people say the pressure’s off for the rest of the season if you don’t make the Countdown. That isn’t true.
To perform is everything to us. When you don’t perform, you just didn’t get the job done. All you can do is get up off the mat time and time again. The champions have all been on the mat and they’ve risen again, and that’s what we’ll do, too.
We went into Indy 10th in points with two hungry teams behind us. One of them was our Ford Shelby teammate Tim Wilkerson and his Levi, Ray & Shoup team. As luck would have it, when the race was rained out and NHRA added two qualifying sessions, we drew Tim first round. Only one of us was going to make it into the Countdown to the Championship, and Tim got the job done.
When you’re up against a teammate like that, it’s tough. As much as you want the best for them, you still want your team to be the team that makes it happen. We’re a determined team, though, and we’re going out to the next few races to win some races.
I can tell you this, through the tough times you find out who you are and what you’re made of. How we perform over these next six races will define our season.
Charlotte is always a race the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team looks forward to. Our shop is near zMAX Dragway in Concord, where a lot of the NASCAR teams are based. My guys get to sleep in their own beds, and since we’re on the road most of the year, that’s a luxury. The staff at the track does a great job, too. They do whatever it takes to promote NHRA Full Throttle Series Drag Racing, and we appreciate that.
Let me tell you – when I get discouraged about things that happen at the track, I try to keep everything in perspective. Fans tell me all the time about struggles they are going through, from dealing with cancer to supporting a loved one who is serving overseas in our military… you name it. We all have struggles, and it is those things that matter most. We do have a job to do, though, and that’s what we’ll focus on at the track.
Our goal is to finish strong. It would mean everything to our team to end on a high note.
There is no such thing in motorsports as a time when the pressure is off. We are always under pressure to perform. This ain’t driving to Church Sunday morning. This is the real deal. There are real consequences. That’s where we live, under pressure, and if you can’t perform under pressure, you can’t perform.
The only reason why I’m racing is to compete for a championship. To not be able to do that is gut-wrenching, but you can take that energy and turn it into negativity or you can take that and be positive.
I’m excited. The day I’m not excited about going to a race, I won’t do it. I’m excited about being in Charlotte. It’s a place where we’ve done well and conditions get better and better as the season unfolds and the temperatures cool down. I’m excited about playing spoiler. We’ll go out and make as much noise as we can and learn as much as we can to put ourselves in position to win.
This is the time we’ll see what my Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has. What I have. This is when we say “here’s what we can do.”