Hey everyone! I just got back home from Vegas and have began this blog a few times since our Gainesville race and every time I sat down to finish it I ended up deleting and starting over.
It seems nowadays with Twitter (@NapaRonCapps) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RonCappsFC ) that everything is so instant that when I sit down to write a blog on here it seems like it is such a distant thing I am writing about ... if that makes sense.
It has been pretty much same ol' same ol' since we went to semifinals at the Winternationals and we had run pretty good with our NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car at Phoenix and then again at the Gainesville race as well with a great qualifying effort and then we ran into the Prock rocket and while we ran a great 4.05 second run. Robert beat us with a 4.03 and our weekend was over.
I want to back up for a second though as we ran the March Meet the weekend prior to the Gatornationals and on Sunday of the race I was asked to come to the starting line where I was presented with the Jack Williams Award. Jack Williams was a former Top Fuel driver but made an impact on our sport of drag racing in many ways, and to get the award with his name on it was truly an honor.
Getting the Jack Williams Award
We had a couple of weeks off, but as usual, I was staying pretty busy. We had the "Tour de Charity" kart race up at Infineon raceway once again and this year Jack Beckman and I spent the day with a sold out group of fans racing karts in the rain, it was a great time and once again we raised more money for the Speedway Childrens Charity.
I flew home to basically change clothes and grab my son Caden and drive up to the Fontana track to attend the NASCAR race and it turned out to be one heck of a day as Martin Truex, Jr. and the NAPA Auto Parts team had Caden and I hang out with them. We spent the race day morning at the NASCAR drivers meeting with Martin Truex and then I was able to introduce Caden to several other drivers, get pictures with them and even ran into actor Vince Vaughn there and chatted with him for a bit and then he kneeled down and took a picture with Caden. It was a great day.
We got to sit up on the NAPA pit box and listen to Martin and his crew chief Chad as they fought all the way up to the 8th position before the rains came and that was when we jumped in the car and headed home.
We headed to Vegas that week for our race there and spent most of the week doing media stuff with a radio tour on Thursday morning with my brother Jon, and several other TV things on Friday before qualifying.
We surely didn’t have the weekend we expected and we didn’t qualify, which was topped by Tim Richards resigning from DSR. It has made this week a very interesting week as we are going to have Rahn Tobler leading our NAPA Auto Parts team starting in Charlotte next weekend.
I have been very lucky to have had worked with three great crew chiefs at DSR with of course my mentor Ed McCulloch (for many years at Don Prudhomme’s team and then of course all the years here at DSR), then John Medlen for a short time and then of course Tim Richards. While I am very bummed out that Tim is no longer my crew chief, I am very, very excited to drive for Rahn Tobler as we have been teammates for a long time at DSR.
I know that NAPA Auto Parts is going to be thrilled with the results we are going to have the rest of this 2012 season. There was a short time during the off season prior to the 2011 season that Rahn was possibly going to be tuning the NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car as John Medlen was having to help get our in-house DSR machine shop running and wasn’t going to be able to concentrate on tuning our car.
Don was vigorously working on getting funding for Jack's car and didn’t have anything concrete and Rahn Tobler and I talked for a brief time about starting out that season working together until Don was able to put our new sponsor Aaron's and Valvoline NextGen together for a full season and that team went on to have a great 2011 season of course.
I have been blessed to have the same core group of crew members that have worked and raced with me at DSR since we wore the Brut cologne colors and then stayed together as a team when we were lucky enough to have NAPA Auto Parts join DSR and they have been a huge part of my family as sometimes it seems like we are actually together more than we are with our own families.
While it doesn’t happen as much in our sport, you see NASCAR teams swapping complete crews at times and even crew chiefs all the time. The cool part about what Don has built at DSR is that the crew member on all seven teams are all great at what they do and they all enjoy what they do, and the same can be said for our crew chiefs and drivers. Trust me, there is a reason that DSR has all those trophies.
You have to keep in mind how much more difficult a Funny Car is to tune for these crew chiefs than a dragster, you can ask any of the top crew chiefs in the sport and will attest to it and when you have any prominent sponsor like we have at DSR, winning a few races and being top 5 in points isn’t in our vocabulary, we want to constantly be the best.
I can tell you that there has been numerous times that one or more of the crew chiefs has helped another crew chief in our organization, and there have been many times (now included) that a crew chief and team will run a new part that DSR designed to see if it is going to help us be a stronger team as a whole. Believe me ... it happens more times than you probably realize and that is what makes our teams so strong.
Our teams are back in Indy and hopefully will be able to enjoy a good Easter weekend with their families and then we will be off to Charlotte for the 4 wide race and our Full Throttle schedule is gonna start kicking into gear a little bit with races getting a little more frequent.
The reality at home is setting in as Taylor is taking her driver’s test and I am letting her drive a little more frequently around the house and that for me is hard to watch our little girl grow up...ugh.
Thanks again for all the nice words from our fans, we really appreciate it!
Talk to you soon.
Just got back from our Phoenix race and got settled in at home, it is getting a little nuts around here because my son Caden just started his Little League baseball season and Taylor is headed to Dallas for their next Cheer competition.
We had a very good start at the Winternationals in Pomona with a good qualifying run and then going to the semifinals, and while you surely want to win the first race, you don’t want to start the year off with a not-so-good Winternationals. We qualified great and won a very tough 1st round race with teammate Matt Hagan, and then went all the way to the semifinals where we lost a very close race to Mike Neff and our Winternationals was over.
SX racer James Stewart and his family with Antron and I
Pomona is always a great race, and like most times we race there, we had a bunch of very cool guests this year with SX great James “Bubba” Stewart and his family coming out for the whole day of qualifying. We had Barry Weiss from “Storage Wars” come by on Sunday, my buddy and overall crazy XGamer Ronnie Renner hung out and tried to steal my ride. A new friend Ben Carey (guitarist for band Lifehouse) couldn’t get enough nitro and came back for a couple of days in Pomona.
This year was a pretty quick week between Pomona and Phoenix and for me I just drove down I-5 and parked our coach in our storage lot and then unpacked, packed again and hopped in my car and headed out.
The nice thing about this time of the year is the races being somewhat close for me because once the season starts kicking in after Gainesville it’s is a bunch of travel for me since I live in California .This year was a good example because after Pomona I hopped in my car and drove up to the L.A. area and picked up Dr. Donny and Tommy DeLago and the three of us hit I-10 Eastbound and Down to Phoenix to try and meet up for dinner with Phoenix Bob Kuhar for our first corporate meeting of a joint clothing venture we have together at a great restaurant in Chandler called Loco Patron.
Then the next morning I headed south a little bit to join NAPA Auto Parts and a huge group of their finest customers for a golf outing, I know… sounds like hard work. We got up early on Friday and did my annual visit to Phoenix rock station KUPD the Morning Sickness show with Holmberg and Brady and this year we had the comic Frank Caliendo pop into the studio spur of the moment and it turned into a pretty good time.
The weekend brought some warm and dry conditions, but the track was tricky and fast if you got it figured out. We didn’t qualify as well as we wanted to, and it put us up against a very tough car with Cruz.
We won that race without lane choice, one of the benefits of having the “the General” leading our NAPA Auto Parts team. We lost a second round race with Neff again (hope this trend ends soon...) and our Phoenix race was over.
One cool thing is that NAPA became the official Firebird Int’l Raceway track sponsor and we had over 3,000 guest during the weekend that NAPA took care of with food and drink and all the nitro they wanted to smell, it was a great time and I always look forward to going back there, and like last year in Pomona, our friend Randy Johnson had such a blast last time that he came out again for the whole weekend and brought out his trick cameras and got some pretty cool shots from the starting line.
We have a couple of weekends off of the NHRA Full Throttle schedule, but as you know it is the time of the year that we race the fabled March Meet race up at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, CA (http://www.famosoraceway.com/) and once again I will be driving Chuck and Del Worsham’s nostalgia Funny Car. It is the Blue Max car with a Plymouth Arrow body on it now, and of course we will be kicking off the event at Chuys on Wednesday night for the NAPA March Meet kickoff party.
It is a great time, sort of a fun weekend with a lot of the big name crew chiefs and former legendary drag racing stars all hanging out. Where else can you see over 32 5 second 260 mph Funny Cars running the 1/4 mile?
I took the girls to the airport for the big Cheer competition in Dallas that Taylor has, so it is going to be boys weekend with Caden and I. We are going to do all that fun stuff that boys do like paintball, karting, rolling around in the dirt, leaving the toilet seat up.... all that cool fun boys stuff! <grin>
Hope you have a good weekend, don’t forget you don’t have to wait for my blog as you can follow me every hour of the day on Twitter (@NapaRonCapps)
Talk to you soon!
Getting "prepped" for new NAPA commercial
Finally...We are here at the week leading up to our season opening race in Pomona and like I said in my last blog on here, the off season flew by. Our NAPA team got to the Pomona track after the long drive from Indiana and I couldn’t be more excited and confident that we are going to have a great 2012 season.
Let me catch you up on the last month or so, because it has been a busy one both on and off the racetrack. Before I flew to Florida for our preseason test, my wife Shelley and I flew to Charlotte to film the 2012 new NAPA Auto Parts commercials. They are going to be much different than the past few years, but without giving too much away, I can tell you that it is going be hilarious and you won’t have to see me sing. I am told that they might start airing during the Phoenix race on our ESPN coverage.
After that I flew to Florida to begin our preseason testing and with the NAPA commercial shoot being when it was, it put our NAPA team a day or so behind our other teams for the week of testing. Tim Richards had a great plan to the week and what we needed to get accomplished at the test.
For some teams, it was more of a practice session, but for our NAPA team we really needed to start from scratch with some major parts of Tim's tune-up, as he really sort of took over the NAPA car the second half of the 2011 season as it was the most exciting part for me is that Tim, Kim and our team were able to set the car up the way that he is comfortable and accustomed to.
We needed to start from scratch in the clutch area and Tim said we needed to implement new clutch discs for the start of the season, and as most of you know, the clutch discs are a huge part of the tune-up for these crew chiefs. We made some great runs during the test session and it really reminded me of how cool it is to have the "General" at the helm. One of the highlights of the test was having Dick LaHaie (Kim's Dad in case you are somewhat new to the sport) hang out for a day in our pit area and retirement has been good to him.
As we did the last few years, and if you follow me on Twitter (@NapaRonCapps), you would know the day after the test we went out on our yearly fishing trip with Edzo and the boys and this year didn’t disappoint. Most of you have gotten to know my cousin Dr. Don and our friend Phoenix Bob (called Harold and Kumar by Rick Fischer at Kalitta camp) and they flew out for the test session and fishing extravaganza.
You can see in the pictures, it was fun as usual. We had Matt Hagan, Tommy Delago, Glen ( Tommy's assistant crew chief ), Dr. Don, Phoenix Bob and Robby Gilbertson to name a few. As soon as we got out in deep water we started getting bites and it seemed like everyone was able to get some action on the poles. We did the usual lunch afterwards back at the Sailfish marina eating a great meal and watching the NFL playoffs. It was a perfect end to a great weekend.
I was back at home for a few days and then had a couple of NAPA sponsor appearances on the east coast. The first trip was a flight out to Bangor Maine and then a long drive up in the mountains for a snowmobile ride. It was my first ever, by the way.
The NAPA group out in Maine are a very cool bunch of people and they had everything setup for me for my first ride on a sled (that's what they call a snowmobile). We ended up riding 150 miles that day followed by a great dinner back at the "Twin Pine Camps" lodge.
I was able to give a speech on how the teamwork that our NAPA NHRA team has. It’s really very close to the kind of work that keeps NAPA Auto Parts the best auto parts stores on the planet. It was back to the airport early the next morning and I then flew to Norfolk, Virginia for a couple of appearances there. Then I drove to Franklin, Virginia for an appearance at a NAPA store for a couple of hours followed by a dinner with a great group of loyal NAPA customers, employees and AutoCare center people from the area. Actually about 150 people came out and it was a very cool local restaurant.
It was back to the airport again at dark for my flight back to the west coast, Vegas to be exact. I had my Monaco coach at the RV Doctor where Darren and the guys got it into shape for the season to start. So I landed in Vegas, got off the plane and drove my coach 6 hours home to Carlsbad and chilled with my boy Caden while we watched the Superbowl and behaved like boys all day (I will leave that to your imagination). Taylor had a big cheer competition in Palm Springs, so the girls were there all weekend. Caden and I jumped in my Brizio hot rod and ran some errands and just thoroughly enjoyed cruising the street rod around with Pennywise cranked up on the stereo. It was a great day for a man and his son.
That catches me up to this week, the week of Pomona, finally. Our great new PR department set up some media tour stuff in the San Diego area (Thanks Ted, Leah and rookie Jeff Wolf!) and being one of the only NHRA current pro drivers in the San Diego area they setup some good stuff in the area to let everyone know that the Winternationals were just around the corner.
We had a NAPA get together last night at one of my favorite places, K1 Speed Indoor Karting. We did several events last year with NAPA and our NAPA racing team was invited to them as well and believe me, it has opened a whole new competition with the guys. Plus every time we go karting prior to a Pomona race, we have done very good on race day, so fingers are crossed that we can start the season off the same way we have the last few years.
See you soon!
Hope you all had a great Christmas and as good as New Year as we did! I actually was able to stay home for both holidays this year. We had a small get together for New Year’s Eve here at the house and brought 2012 in with a great group of family and friends.
We had the 6th annual "Cruisin' with Capps" cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale and they are already starting to plan for next year. I hear it might go out of New Orleans, so keep following us on here and I will get the info out as soon as I know.
One of the stops on the cruise was Aruba, and while we were there we ran into some local NAPA people and one of the promoters of the dragstrip there in Aruba. They found us sitting on one of the beaches and invited us to go to Manuelito's, which is a local hangout owned by one of the biggest supporters of the NHRA sanctioned dragstrip there who is named ... you guessed it, Manuel.
We cut our time on the beach a little short and they took us back to his place. By the time we could get there, he had already had it put out on the local radio station in Aruba that I would be at his bar. I have to tell you that I was floored by how many people came by on short notice to get a picture with me.
I did a couple of local TV station interviews and a couple radio interviews and they got us back to the cruise ship with literally minutes to spare before we disembarked. In case you didn’t know (and I did, sort of), drag racing in Aruba is HUGE....like it is one of the most popular sports they follow there and their drag strip is always packed.
After the cruise it was a few days at home and then we then traveled to Vegas for my daughter Taylor's national cheerleading competition. They were defending champs from this event last year and they finished second this year. It was a great time for me because I don’t get to go to very many of her events with our schedule during the year. I even got to take her and her teammates and their parents on the rollercoaster at New York, New York one night, so it was a good time.
I love early January, and not just because it’s only a few weeks before we’re back on the track with our NAPA Funny Car, but getting to spend time at home through the holidays is always great for the mind in our line of work. The racing season is such a demand both mentally and physically. We go to sleep at night thinking about how to be better the next time we’re on the track and we wake up with thoughts of how to dig down deep and see if there’s anything above 100 percent we can give. January brings a renewed energy. We always get new parts and pieces in the shop that Tim Richards and our NAPA team massage and fine tune with the idea that it will be something that will help our team gain that extra edge.
The funny part is that while December rolls on by and the fans sort of forget about racing while it is the off season, the work at the shop by our NAPA team gets busier and busier. Before we know it we will be down in Florida in a couple weeks testing our new NAPA hot rod and gearing up for Pomona and opening day on Feb. 9.
My appearances for NAPA Auto Parts like store grand openings, tool fairs and all other fun NAPA get-togethers for 2012 are already being planned and booked. I just got the script for the NAPA commercials for 2012 and they are going to be very cool. We are shooting them in Charlotte next week and then I will head straight down to West Palm Beach for our preseason test and get to step on the gas of our NAPA Funny Car. We have our private testing during the week and then starting on Friday Jan. 20.
Talk to you soon.