Hello again all. I’m back in Florida after a fairly fruitful weekend in muggy, clammy, sultry Baytown, Texas. It was oppressively damp all weekend long, which created some challenging race conditions for the crew chiefs.
What a great weekend of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing! Seth Angel and the staff at Royal Purple Raceway did a great job and the fan attendance was tremendous. That stands were packed all weekend long and we are so appreciative of the support from all the Lone Star Staters who flocked to Baytown to support our sport. Thank you!
We got to town early afternoon on Friday before Q1. It was an exciting weekend for us as we were able to launch the Infinite Hero Foundation Funny Car with Jack Beckman’s team. The announcement on April 11 was exciting for all of us at DSR and Oakley, but to see that car hit the race track to spread the word for an incredible cause was really moving. The outpouring of support from the fans all weekend long was just awesome. We raised more than $6,000 for the IHF in three days trackside at Royal Purple Raceway.
Jack and Alan Reinhart put countless effort into spreading the word about the Infinite Hero coins to those in attendance at the Houston race. The gist of the program is this; the coins are an Infinite Hero version of a military challenge coin, similar to what the squadrons carry. Each lap down the track, Jack will carry six to eight IHF coins in the pockets of his fire suit. After the run, he will personally sign them and give them to anyone who makes a $100 donation to the Infinite Hero Foundation. We will take cash or check trackside.
Now we’ve gotten a flood of questions from people that don’t or can’t attend an NHRA race that would like a coin and want to contribute. We are working on the details, but hope to announce a program for that real soon. Stay tuned!
It was almost a dream weekend for the IHF/Valvoline Funny Car team. Jack qualified well in the No. 2 spot and advanced to the final round. Following an eventful semifinal win over DSR teammate Ron Capps and the NAPA Auto Parts team, members from many of the DSR teams were in Jack’s pit area getting that Dodge Charger ready for a final round battle. There was a lot of work to be done, including some welding, new wiring, and of course, a back-up body. It’s was a remarkable effort and shows that we truly are one team at DSR. Jack and the Rob Flynn-led team came up just a tad short to Robert Hight and that JFR Auto Club team, but it was a tremendous effort and we couldn’t be more proud. Oh, and the IHF Funny Car won Best Appearing Car honors. That was a fun way to start Sunday morning. It’s a beautiful car, don’t you agree?
Saturday morning was exciting for me. I got to jump back in the seat of Spencer’s Battery Extender dragster to warm the car before Q3. I got to do the entire warm-up process this time. It’s a great learning experience for me to understand our cars. It’s such a blast to sit in a Top Fuel dragster with 10,000 horsepower cackling just inches behind your head. A big thank you to Todd Okuhara, Phil Shuler, Spencer and the entire team.
Amongst all the action going on in Baytown, we got to say hello and play host to our old friend Angelle Drago. Angelle truly is a rock star. The fans still love her and it seemed to be very humbling for her to see the outpouring of support and ‘we miss yous’ for Angelle. It was great to see her and her beautiful little daughter, Ava, at the race track. Amidst the hype to see who wins the coveted 100th female Wally trophy, it was important to have Angelle involved considering her many accomplishments in NHRA drag racing.
Angelle’s cousin, Billie Jo, is Antron Brown’s wife. So Angelle is very close with the Brown’s. Therefore it was fitting that Angelle was able to celebrate with Antron and the Matco Tools team in the winner’s circle on Sunday afternoon.
Houston is a special place for AB. He scored his first of now 28 Top Fuel wins there six years ago as a Top Fuel rookie. As boiling as Baytown was last weekend, that Matco Tools team led by Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald are evening hotter. Dating back to the St. Louis race last September, Antron has been to seven of the last 10 Top Fuel final rounds with five wins, including three this season and the last two races. With his 44th career Wally, AB put a DSR car in first place in the standings for the first time this season.
It was almost a dream scenario that darn Robert Hight spoiled. Mike O’Guin works on Antron’s dragster. He’s the clutch specialist. His now wife, Marla, works as the clutch assistant on Jack’s Funny Car. They were married just about a month ago. What an awesome experience for both their cars to be in the final round. It was a bummer when Jack’s car came up short, but we know that Hollywood ending for Mike and Marla isn’t too far off. That will be special.
I’m back in school taking finals this week. I’m almost done! That’s exciting. I will graduate the weekend of the NHRA race near Atlanta in Commerce, Ga. on May 17. Then it’s time to make the big move to Indy. Mom and I are actually going to spend a day in Indy later this week house hunting. It’s both nervous and exciting at the same time. I hate missing races, but I missed Atlanta last year for graduation and Antron and Johnny Gray doubled-up. Hopefully our DSR teams can give me the best graduation present again, a Wally!
That’s it for now. Don will be at the shop in Brownsburg this week. I hope you all have a great week and thanks for reading.
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.