Hello again everyone. We just finished our most visually difficult event of the season with the Four-Wide Nationals at beautiful zMax Dragway at Concord next to Charlotte Motor Speedway. The track refers to zMax as the “Bellagio of Drag strips” for a reason. Bruton Smith and the SMI folks built a masterpiece near Charlotte.
zMax is one of the newer facilities on tour, but given the status of the track it’s one of the tracks you want to win. We’ve been fortunate to do well at the Charlotte races over the past few years. Last year at the Four-Wide we doubled-up with Spencer and Matt taking home the Wally trophies. This year wasn’t as victorious, but we did walk away with another Wally trophy in what may be the drag race of the year.
The Top Fuel final of the 2014 Four-Wide Nationals was one for the ages. It pitted the points-leader Doug Kalitta, the last two Top Fuel champions, Antron Brown and Shawn Langdon, and the rejuvenated J.R. Todd, now driving full-time at Kalitta Motorsports. So, it was two Kalitta cars, on DSR rail and an Al-Anabi dragster, all heavy hitters, racing for the coveted Four-Wide trophy.
In an incredible race, Antron Brown scored the narrow victory in what will be scored a double hole shot win. AB was lightning-quick at a .042 reaction time. The Matco Tools car ran 3.800, the exact same elapsed time as Shawn, and JR was a tick better at 3.799. It’s amazing to have three cars, with different parts, tune-ups and drivers that can run within one-thousandth of-a-second. It goes to show how incredibly close today’s NHRA racing is and what a great product we deliver to the NHRA fans.
I was tardy for the race this weekend. I stayed home on Friday to tend to Teddy. We’re still working on his ailment without a solution. It’s very frustrating, but he’s been a trooper. He has good and bad days and we’re hoping for the best.
Friday was an exciting day for us at DSR. We announced a partnership, through Don and Terry Chandler, with the Infinite Hero Foundation, which is Oakley’s house charity. Oakley and DSR have been partners for many years and given our relationship with the U.S. Army, the Infinite Hero Foundation as a seamless relationship. We’ve been working with Laurie Baker and the group at IHF and Oakley for a few months to make this program happen and we were so proud to announce this program on April 11.
Jack Beckman, a former U.S. Air Force veteran, will pilot the Infinite Hero Foundation Funny Car at six races this season beginning at Baytown, Texas near Houston in a few weeks. Jack is the perfect spokesperson for a terrific program. Oakley offers a full line of IHF apparel and sunglasses and a good portion of all sales goes directly to helping the soldiers. You can find the Oakley IHF gear at the Rolling O store at Houston. And, not a dime of IHF funding goes to run the race car. With the Make-A-Wish partnership, we have two amazing organizations we’re proud call members of the DSR family. You can find more info on the IHF program at infinitehero.org.
Before Charlotte, I spent spring break with a few of my Chicago girlfriends and we had a blast. We went fishing and caught a couple blue marlin and a few dolphin or dorado or mahi mahi, whatever you call them in what region of the world you live in. They call them dolphin near Florida. LOL We also played donkey polo. Check out this hilarious photo of Don on a donkey. And we got to shoot skeet and sporting clays. We had a blast. Then it was back to school and the NHRA races.
Before we sign off, we want to give a shout out to a few sports celebs for hanging out this weekend. Former Panthers and current Ravens Wide Receiver Steve Smith got to start Antron’s Matco dragster on Friday. Steve is a pillar of the Charlotte sporting community and a local fan fav. It was nuts on Friday with the local media. There were five or six local TV cameras at the track to film Steve warming up Antron’s car. It was nuts. Bring the NFL to the track and the media follows.
We also have to thank both Clint Bowyer and Parker Klingerman of the NASCAR world for visiting on Sunday. After a late night Saturday race in Darlington, it was neat for Clint to spend the day at the track as a guest of DSR. He was a super nice guy and very laid back. We’re hoping to put together a Clint/Antron ride swap for later this year. We think Clint could handle a Top Fuel dragster. What do you think?
That’s it for now. I’m gearing up for the final few weeks of school and my impending move to Indy. Don is going fishing with a few of the guys from our front office this week, so they’re really excited. They’re calling it a fishing Kaizen. Haha. Hopefully they can get some cool video footage and pictures for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Remember if you have any DSR or NHRA-related questions, tweet me @MeganFessSchu. Have a great week and thanks for reading.
Hello everyone. Since I’m writing this in the morning and morning is breakfast time, I’m going to start by giving a shout out to the DSR kitchen staff of Malcolm Clark and Riley Horrall. Malcolm and Riley do all the food prep and cook all the food four our hospitality guests and teams. They do an awesome job and last Sunday morning at Las Vegas, they cooked some of the best bacon ever. It was perfectly crispy and who doesn’t enjoy a piece of yummy, crispy bacon to start their day?
If you would like to learn a little more about Malcolm, here is a link to an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper that ran this week: http://www.reviewjournal.com/entertainment/nhra-team-s-mobile-kitchen-keeps-everyone-well-fed.
Vegas is always a fun event for our teams and a big reason is that we are fortunate to call the New York-New York Hotel & Casino our home twice a year. NYNY is a great property with terrific restaurants and the facility takes great care of our DSR teams and many NHRA fans. Each year at the spring Vegas race, NYNY hosts the NHRA Fan Fest on the Brooklyn Bridge outside that runs parallel with the Las Vegas strip. It’s a great setting and the fan turnout is amazing. The fans start gathering a good 90 minutes before the two-hour autograph sessions starts at 5 p.m. Alan Reinhart does a great job as the emcee and the fans keep the autograph line full for the entire two hours. If a trip to Vegas in your future, do like we do and check out www.nynyvegas.com.
Don and I got to Vegas on Thursday in time for the autograph session. Mom stayed home for the weekend to tend to Teddy. He’s still dealing with some medical issues and the vets are struggling to find out what’s ailing him. He’s been a trooper the past few weeks and we’re optimistic for a cure real soon.
The spring Vegas race delivered perfect temperatures, but windy conditions for the teams. It was so windy on race day Sunday that NHRA officials had to postpone Pro Stock eliminations until later in the day due to the strong wind gusts. Thankfully they were able to get the Pro Stock event completed and a big congrats to Erica Enders and the Elite Motorsports team for an amazing weekend winning both the K&N Shootout and the race on Sunday.
Qualifying for our seven DSR teams was pretty successful. Maybe the best qualifying outing of the four races this season. Antron Brown and the Matco Tools team continued their hot streak as AB earned his 35th career pole and first of the season at 3.768-seconds on Saturday’s final lap. It was the first DSR pole of the season and the entire Matco crew was rewarded with the new green No. 1 qualifier hats. It’s something that Coca-Cola started this season and it’s a nice perk for the drivers and crew members. All three of our dragsters qualified in the top five and it’s good to see all the tune-ups moving in the right direction. We’re patient and we know it’s a long season, not a sprint.
Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane team were the quickest car of the first three sessions earning Matt nine bonus points. TJ powered the Make-A-Wish Dodge to a great 4.023-second lap in Q4 to qualify third, our highest starting position in the Funny Car class. We know that John Collins is very talented and that MAW team is jelling nicely.
On Sunday Raceday/Funday, Ron Capps and the NAPA Auto Parts team had our strongest showing advancing to the semifinals. All three of our diggers started from the same side of the ladder. It was a stacked ladder with the three DSR cars and the two Al-Anabi cars. Antron notched low ET of the event in E1 at 3.758-seconds. It was a track record ET. AB met up with the U.S. Army team in the semis and when Antron dropped a hole, the Army team marched into their first final since Joliet last June. In a great final round, Tony scored his 73rd career Top Fuel win, edging Doug Kalitta in a fantastic drag race. After some early season struggles, the Army team is coming together nicely as they eye NHRA title No. 8.
On Saturday at Vegas, I had a fan approach and compliment me on the blog. He asked for more frequent blog updates. I thanked him for reading and his feedback, but cautioned that they tend to keep me busy with school, homework, traveling to and from the races, and working with TJ, Terry Chandler and the Make-A-Wish team. If you guys have any blog suggestions or requests, please tweet them to me @MeganFessSchu.
I paid a visit to the DSR shop in Indy yesterday. We had an exciting planning meeting with the folks from Riley Children’s Foundation. We have a forthcoming announcement with @RileyKids coming, so stay tuned. That’s about all I can say right now.
After the visit, I traveled to Chicago to meet up with some friends and head back to the sunshine for a few days of vacation. It will be fun to have time with my friends for a few days before I head home and gear up for the Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals next weekend. Our DSR teams have done well at the Four-Wides and we hope to keep that up next weekend in Concord.
That’s about it for now. Oh, and before I go, it’s still the a.m. hours, so I think I’ll grab a piece of bacon to hold me over until lunchtime. I just hope it’s as good as Malcolm’s.
All the best …
Hello again. It’s been a bumpy few days for me after the Gatornationals. We got home Sunday evening after the race and all was A-OK, but yesterday I noticed my dog, Teddy, wasn’t acting normal. So, I took him to the vet and they ran some tests and blood work. They gave Teddy some antibiotics and he rested most of the day yesterday. This morning he still didn’t seem normal and wasn’t eating. I even cooked him pasta and when he wouldn’t eat the pasta, I got a little more worried. We’re back at the vet and I’m blogging as I wait and my fingers are crossed. I hope Teddy feels better soon.
The Schumacher’s are a dog family. Don, mom and I love our dogs. They’re like our kids and we treat them like family. We were really excited last week when we found out Antron’s family adopted a dog from the Humane Society in Indy. His name is Levi and he’s a Parson’s Jack Russell Terrier. The Brown’s are very excited about having Levi join their family and it’s great Levi now has a loving home.
Before the Gatornationals, I had my Spring Break week from Lynn Univ. and we spent it at the beach with some friends, including Rahn and Ellen Tobler. Ellen is very close with my mom and the Tobler’s are a blast. It was fun to spend some time with Rahn away from the race track when he wasn’t solely focused on tune-ups, clutches and race cars.
Our drivers kept busy before the Gatornationals as Antron and Ron both had vocational school visits. Antron at Mid-Florida Tech near Orlando and Ron at J-Tech in Jacksonville. Jack attended Don Garlits’ annual Hall of Fame inductions and was the presenter for 2014 inductee and Funny Car champion Frank Hawley. Jack has been a friend of Frank’s for many year and still works as an instructor at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School.
We had a weekend of fantastic weather at the Gatornationals. Mother Nature has blessed us with terrific weather at the first three races and that’s awesome for the fans. The fans responded and showed up in droves all weekend long. The Gators is a destination race. Lots of fans trek to warm, sunny Florida in mid-March for the first NHRA race on the East Coast and 2014 was no different. It’s been a lengthy, harsh winter in much of the country, so why not come spend the weekend at the NHRA races in Florida, right?
The 2014 version of the Gators certainly wasn’t as special as last year. It’s hard to top the 200th win with Johnny Gray and Antron’s double-up in ‘13. Our teams continue to work through some new tune-up combinations and progress with the performance of their cars. We want to peak during the Countdown rather than earlier in the year. That’s our 2014 goal, two nitro championships.
Antron and the Matco team continue to run great. They qualified second and advanced to a second straight final round before losing traction in the final round and falling to Doug Kalitta. It’s fun to see those two teams race and the rivalry of the “Tool Wars.” It should be entertaining to follow the 2014 version of the tool wars and we’re glad we have Matco and Antron on our side.
Don will keep his competitive juices flowing this weekend. He’ll be fishing in a Blue Marlin tournament in the Dominican Republic. Don being Don, he will want to win. It’s amazing how he’s always on the go and wants to be the best and win at everything. I admire his drive and could only wish to have his motor.
Thousands of miles away, both Jack and Ron Capps will be taking part in the annual Tour de Charity at Sonoma Raceway. It’s a charity karting event at one of our favorite tracks and both Ron and Jack loving turning left and right at the karting track at Sonoma. Good luck guys!
I’m heading home to Chicago this weekend for Mike O’Guin and Marla Weidenaar’s wedding. Mike works on the Matco Tools dragster and Marla on the Valvoline Funny Car, so it’s an NHRA match made in heaven. It’s like our version of The Bachelor and we’re very excited for their special day.
If you’re coming to Las Vegas next weekend, try to stay where we stay at the New York-New York. The annual NHRA Fan Fest will take place on the Brooklyn Bridge in front of the NYNY Hotel & Casino from 5-7 p.m. and all seven DSR drivers will be there. Please stop by and say hello.
Thanks for reading and have a great week. We’ll blog again after Las Vegas.
Hello again everyone. It’s Wednesday morning and I can honestly say that I’m glad I’m in Florida and not Indy. My friends at the shop said it was seven degrees driving to work this morning. Seven degrees! It’s almost March. This winter just won’t let up.
Well, we scored our first win of the season last Sunday at the newly named Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Antron and the Matco Tools team scored our first Wally of the season and win number 220 for DSR. The Matco car continues to run well and dating back to last season they have won three of the last six races. Now we need to get one of our Team DSR Funny Cars in the winner’s circle at the Gatornationals in a few weeks.
Phoenix was a surprisingly busy race for our drivers. TJ and Jack both did the pre-event press conference on Thursday at the track in Chandler and Jack even gave members of the media rides in the two-seat Super Comp dragster. TJ then had an early wake-up call on Friday morning and did two Phoenix TV morning shows from the track. His first hit was at 5:30 a.m. and TJ isn’t a morning person, but he knew the importance given it was Make-A-Wish’s home market. Thanks for being a trooper TJ! Haha. Our PR team jokes, that 5:30 is really 7:30 ET back in Indy where TJ lives. Saturday morning it was Antron’s turn and he joined DSR Chef Malcolm Clark for a Saturday Phoenix-area morning show. We’re lucky to have a great group of drivers who know the importance of exposing our sport of NHRA racing to new fans.
On the way to the track on Friday, we stopped at Sprinkle’s cupcakes shop in Scottsdale and brought the boys cupcakes. They all work so hard, so it’s fun to surprise them with a treat. And Sprinkle’s are so yummy!
Saturday was a very gratifying day at the track for all of us at DSR. We hosted more than 200 Make-A-Wish guests. Given Make-A-Wish is headquartered in Phoenix, it was so great to see the outpouring of support for TJ and the team at the track on Saturday. TJ made two great laps at 4.07 and 4.02 to move up to the No. 2 qualifying spot on the Q4 pass. Winning races is great, but putting a smile on the faces of the Make-A-Wish families is so extremely gratifying and I can’t express how proud we are to have partnered with both Terry Chandler and everyone at Make-A-Wish and we can’t wait to host families at Gainesville in a few weeks. I think the most touching part of Saturday came during a pit tour when a little boy gave the Make-A-Wish Dodge Funny Car a kiss for good luck. It was just adorable and that was before TJ ran the 4.02!
After the race, we celebrated in the winner’s circle. My mom had a few of her friends in town, so they got to celebrate with us. Tracy Stange is the life of the party and always keeps us in stitches. She decided to lay on Antron’s dragster in the winner’s circle photo. Tracy is a hoot.
After that, mom and I took a red eye flight home as I had a final exam on Monday. It’s final’s week. Woo hoo! The good news is that I only have one more quarter of school left after this week and then it’s all done at Lynn University for me. Now that’s exciting! Don flew to Colorado for a few days to spend some time with his daughter, Tara.
The U.S. Army and Mopar Express Lane teams tested on Monday after the Phoenix race and the other teams headed East on Monday morning. Most of the teams are back at the shop gearing up for the Gators. We have some paint work to do on the NAPA body that hit the wall on Sunday at Pomona and we have to repair the front nose of the Valvoline MaxLife car. It will go to Aerodine for carbon fiber work and then to paint at SD Enterprises up in Michigan. We also have a few Funny Cars being wrapped. Jack will have a special one-off paint scheme at Gainesville that you will read about soon. Needless to say, it will be a busy few weeks at DSR before the team’s leave to Gainesville on March 12.
That’s it for now. Stay warm and have a great week.