Hello again NHRA fans. It was a busy weekend at Pomona for the final race of the 2013 NHRA season that culminated with the annual NHRA award’s ceremony in Century City on Monday evening. We flew home yesterday and it’s back to the grind of school today. So yes, I’m a bit jet-lagged and needing a day or two to catch-up.
It was an interesting weekend at Pomona. There wasn’t a lot of championship drama as the Funny Car (John Force) and Pro Stock Motorcycle (Matt Smith) winners were crowned at Las Vegas two weeks ago and the Top Fuel (Shawn Langdon) and Pro Stock (Jeg Coughlin) points-leaders entering Pomona with almost insurmountable leads. Shawn clinched the TF title after Q4 on Saturday and Jeg after E2 on Sunday. Congrats to all four 2013 NHRA Mello Yello champions.
That left the only drag racing theatre as to who would capture the coveted Wally trophies from the Auto Club Finals. Our dragsters all bowed out early, but we had an exciting and moving – yes, I know, sappy – development in Funny Car with Matt Hagan’s Mopar/Rocky Boots team. Matt’s crew chief, Dickie Venables, was in the hospital after undergoing a medical procedure earlier in the week. That meant assistant crew chief Mike Knudsen, a longtime DSR employee, was calling the shots on the Mopar Dodge at Pomona, with the watchful eyes of Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler to offer advice.
Mike and the entire Mopar team did such a fantastic job all weekend. The team made eight solid runs between 4.12 and 4.01, including running 4.014 to qualify second and a 4.018-second blast in the final round as Matt scored his category-best fifth win of 2013 to defeat John Force in the final round. It was DSR’s 23rd win of the season besting our 22 from last year. We’re now at 219 wins entering the 2014 NHRA season. Congrats to Matt, Mike and the entire Mopar team on a fantastic weekend at Pomona. We know Dickie is very proud of them and we can’t wait to welcome Dickie back to the shop and to testing in January.
Speaking of pre-season testing; mark it on your January ’14 calendar all you nitro maniacs. Our seven DSR teams, along with many on the NHRA tour, will test Jan. 15-18 at Palm Beach International Raceway. The PRO Winter Warm-up will be Jan. 17-18 and open to the public.
Some of our teams are back at the shop and some will return later tonight to gear up for what most call our off-season or as some in our front office refer to it as our “on season.” There really is no off season for a team as large as DSR. We’ll be back at Pomona in some 80-plus days and our teams have to build new chassis, mount Funny Car bodies, paint and decal dragster and Funny Cars, strip and re-wrap trailers, order new race and hospitality awnings, order new crew shirts and fire suit, hold 2014 photo shoots at our shop in early December, along with freshening up all the race car parts for testing and the ’14 Winternationals. Needless to say, our guys will keep very busy this winter before they head south to Florida on January 12 or 13. That’s less than two months away.
I spoke to our shop manager Joey Martin and he said that our fab shop will do five front halves this off season. That means new pipe on a dragster or FC chassis from the driver compartment forward. They also will continue with R&D projects and mounting Funny Car bodies. The machine shop is cranking away on cylinder heads and connecting rods like Santa’s elves this time of year.
We got our first ‘14 NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car body back from paint recently and it will be assembled and decaled for a Dec. 3 photo shoot at our shop. Here’s a sneak peak at Ron Capps’ 2014 ride. It’s very similar with a few subtle changes.
That’s it from DSR-land for now, but I’m excited to keep you all posted on the on-goings in Brownsburg all winter long. This weekend I’m joining Paul Mecca, who handles new business development for DSR, and Leah Vaughn, our social media specialist, in Homestead, Fla. for the final NASCAR race. It’s my first NASCAR race and I’m eager to take in another form of motor sports and network and mingle.
I’ll check in next week with my NASCAR experience and updates from the shop. Have a great week and weekend.