If you see my posts on Facebook or Twitter (@Tasca3), you’ve seen a bunch about JDRF and our paint scheme contest. (If you don’t, you’re missing all kinds of insider photos – did you see the one of my dad in an apron? Like/follow me! Do it today!)
We’re part of the JDRF team again this year, raising money for the fight against T1D (type 1 diabetes).
Once a year, I get to race with a… not so traditional design on my Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car.
Last year’s was red, white and blue with different-colored sneakers on the nose. You may remember it from Norwalk. The design was awesome and the best part was the 11-year-old with T1D who designed it is a drag racer too.
Her name is Libby Ledford. Her whole family drag races, and she brought her mom, dad, brother and friend to the race to help us unveil the paint scheme she created in the “Our Everyday Heroes” Race Car Design Contest for JDRF, hosted by the Ford Customer Service Division and its brands, Motorcraft and Quick Lane. Those are the names you’ll recognize from the sides of my car…Motorcraft (the official recommended aftermarket part for Ford vehicles) and Quick Lane, the best place to have your vehicles serviced. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.
Ava Pearlman, 8, Northport, N.Y.
This year 50 kids from around the country are competing to have their design on my car by raising funds online. You can vote now with your donations at: http://www.fordracecar.jdrf.org
They’ve already raised almost $8,000 in just a week!
These designs have a little bit of everything. You like ninjas? You can vote for the ninja car. There are designs with hearts, American flags, a racetrack, teddy bears and camouflage. Believe me – you will find a car you want to vote for.
Every dollar helps. Check back for updates… the lead is changing faster than the Friday night qualifying sheet.
We keep in touch with our contest winners. Libby’s one strong girl. Last fall I took the T14ADay challenge to see what Libby and other kids with T1D go through every day. It was tough. Every hour or so I got a text message to remind me what to do. One said I was hungry and wanted to eat an apple but before I could, I had to remember that every carb needs insulin, and I had to check my blood sugar levels to make sure I could without taking insulin.
I’d never personally experienced T1D and this gave me a whole new perspective on how much strength and control it takes to handle it.
For more information about T1D, check out www.JDRF.org. And don’t forget to vote!
The Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., had all the glitz of a major auto show.The Mack display was absolutely first-class. They asked me to come down and talk about our new partnership. I did a couple of Q&As with the crowd and couldn’t believe how many people who were in Gainesville, Fla. a few days earlier to watch us race!
To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to quite a few car shows but never a heavy-duty truck show, so I didn’t know if it would be different or not.
It was awesome to see the NHRA presence there. Our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang was on display in the Mack booth and we had our merchandise trailer out front, but there were probably four different Mello Yello Series Funny Cars there. Fans had a lot of interesting questions. I could tell that a lot of them really know their drag racing and follow our sport.
I saw the President of Mack again while I was at the show. It’s great to see the excitement Mack’s executives have being part of our racing program. They brought quite a few guests to the race in Gainesville for their first special hospitality program with us and will do that throughout the year.
If you’ve been by our pit, you’ve probably noticed lots of guests in our pit-side hospitality. My sponsors in Ford Customer Service Division have big events almost every weekend. I love that we can give our guests such a close-up experience in this sport.
Now I’m in Charlotte to take more promotional photos with all of our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mack trucks. I’ll have to post some photos on Facebook and Twitter.
We’re working really hard back at the shop to get ready for Las Vegas. We tested after Gainesville. We didn’t do as well as we hoped in Gainesville but we’d rather take our licks early in the season.
I’ve had some great races in Las Vegas. Last year we were the runners-up at this race. I hit the throttle on a Funny Car for the first time at The Strip at LVMS, so I’m ready to do it again next week. We have a car this year that is in the position to take advantage of a track like Las Vegas.
It also means we get to stay at Mandalay Bay. We’ve made quite a few friends there through the years. They take good care of us there.
It’ll be my home away from home next week!
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.