Greetings NHRA.com blog readers! What a weekend in Brainerd. Friday and Saturday it was warm and sunny and everything changed on Sunday morning. It was wet, it was cold, and did I mention that it was wet? We lost count of the all the rain delays but I think it was more than five. I didn’t venture out in the Zoo, but I did hear some stories from Ron Capps who judges the best “zoo vehicles”. The fans in Brainerd are truly one of a kind and we love our annual visit there.
The fans that stuck around on Sunday were treated to an awesome show with some impressive numbers and close drag races. Unfortunately we came up short in those close drag races. The race between Ron Capps and Jack Beckman was incredible. Ron got by Jack by inches. That’s how drag racing goes sometimes. The race between Matt Hagan and Alexis DeJoria was also incredible. NHRA definitely has some additions to this year’s highlight reel.
NHRA officials did everything in their power to get the event in but Mother Nature just wasn’t cooperative so we are going to have to wait until Aug. 30 to see the Brainerd Funny Car final between Ron Capps and John Force during qualifying at the U.S. Nationals.
That NAPA Know How team definitely knows a thing or two about Brainerd as it was Ron’s fourth straight final round appearance at the Minnesota track. Ron’s crew chief, Rahn Tobler, was impressive on Sunday and we hope that continues when they do get to run the final in Indy.
Now that Brainerd is (almost!) in the books, the focus shifts one of the busiest times of the year for all of us at DSR. The Indy Mini Marathon is actually held in May, but for us drag racers, it’s in August. Our teams traveled back to DSR headquarters in Brownsburg and most will test on Wednesday and Thursday out at Lucas Oil Raceway.
On Tuesday Aug. 19, most of the DSR drivers along with several other NHRA drivers will be at the Brownsburg Town Hall for the first ever “Big Go Block Party”. From 6-9 p.m. there will be live music, autographs, a dunk tank and an autograph session (7-8 p.m.) along with the DSR sponsored Kids Zone for the little ones. We’re looking forward to this special event to really kick things off in Indy. If you’re in the area, you should definitely stop by to check it all out!
If you haven’t already voted for either “Fast Jack” Beckman or Matt Hagan in the Traxxas Shootout, please do so! You can vote at www.facebook.com/NHRA. Jack won the Traxxas Shootout last year in spectacular fashion and we definitely want to add another Traxxas Shootout trophy to our collection in the lobby in Brownsburg.
That brings me to where you all have a chance to visit our shop. We just announced details for our 9th annual DSR Open House on Aug. 29th to once again benefit Riley Children’s Hospital Indiana University Health and Camp Riley. It’s from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will feature a giant car and bike show, entertainment and appearances by each of DSR’s seven drivers and Don.
The silent auction will also be online, so those of you that can’t be there in person can still be a part of it and help out Riley. Last year we had more than 4,000 fans tour our shop and we boosted our contributions to Riley past the $240,000 mark. We couldn’t have done it without all of the giving NHRA fans so we really appreciate your help in raising funds and awareness for the Riley Kids. For more information on the Open House check out: http://www.shoeracing.com/news/dsr-open-house-on-aug-29-kicks-off-u-s-nationals-with-riley-funny-car-art-show-giant-cacklefest-at-9th-annual-event.
We just got in a few brand new die casts that look so awesome! Tommy Johnson Jr.’s Make-A-Wish Funny Car, Matt Hagan’s 50th Anniversary HEMI Tribute Mopar Funny Car and Don’s 70’s Cuda car. Check them out at http://store.shoeracingstore.com/ and our staff at the shop will get you set up!
That’s all the news and notes that I have for now. It’s time to take a deep breath before the craziness begins. We’ll let you know how Indy test goes and check in with you next week before the Big Go!
Thanks for reading!
Hello again blog readers!
We made it through the Western Swing but part of me may still be stuck on Pacific time as I struggle to get back on track here at home in Chicago.
Speaking of on track, the DSR contingent didn't have our best Western Swing outing and we all came home empty handed. But that's ok because we are ultimately after the big championship Wally that they give out after the NHRA Finals in Pomona.
Our cars are running well and are getting more consistent which is a big challenge when there is nitro in the tank.
After seeing Jack Beckman suffer an engine explosion at Pacific Raceways and watching all of our teams and crew chiefs come together to figure out why it happened, the term Big Bang Theory has a whole new meaning to me. We are all thankful that Jack was uninjured and I know the Valvoline team will regroup and come out swinging in Brainerd.
It seems our teams are all going in different directions this week as Antron Brown's Matco Tools team and Ron Capps' NAPA Auto Parts team are off to Norwalk, Ohio this weekend for the annual "Night Under Fire". The Bader family always does such an awesome job promoting their events and packing the stands but I hear this event rivals the national event there.
Jack's team is returning to our DSR headquarters near Indy so our talented fab shop can front-half the chassis. This means that they will cut off the existing front half and then assemble a new front half. The finicky nitro-powered machines tend to respond well to a fresh chassis!
On Tuesday at Lucas Oil Raceway, Antron and Tommy Johnson Jr., along with Indy-based Eddie Krawiec, hosted several Indy media members for a press conference and luncheon. The media members also got to take a ride in a two-seat super comp dragster and got an idea of what our drivers go through during a run.
I’ve never been in a two-seat dragster before but it sounds like a lot of fun and maybe something I should do in the near future!
Since it’s now August, let’s fast forward a couple of weeks and look at what we have in store for the 60th annual U.S. Nationals, or the “Big Go” as we call it.
On Tuesday, Aug. 19. the town of Brownsburg is hosting its first “Big Go Block Party” and many of the Indy-based drivers will be in attendance. There’s going to be a concert with the Hunter Smith Band performing. Colts fans know that name because Hunter Smith was the punter when they Colts brought home the Super Bowl in 2006. Rumor has it there will be a dunk tank as well… but we should probably keep that a secret from Antron and TJ, who will be in attendance!
On Wednesday of U.S. Nationals week, we’ll head downtown for the press conference and Traxxas Shootout announcement. Only one Funny Car driver gets voted in and unfortunately we have two drivers to vote for. I’ll keep you updated with information on how to vote for either Matt Hagan or “Fast Jack” Beckman when voting opens!
On Friday, August 29 we will once again be hosting our annual DSR Open House that benefits Riley Children’s Hospital. It’s going to be extremely special this year as TJ will be piloting the #RileyDreamRacer Funny Car at the U.S. Nationals with some special help from honorary crew chief and Riley Kid A.J. Stinger. If you’re in the Indy area, please come check it out!
It’s been a busy summer with races in the past seven of eight weeks so this weekend I’ll spend time in Chicago catching up with my friends and family that I haven’t seen in a while.
I’ll catch up with you all next week before our trip to Minnesota
Warming up the Battery Extender car
Hello again everyone and greetings from sunny California! I usually travel back to sweet home Chicago after the races but not this week. I’m writing this from beautiful Discovery Bay, California where I am for a few days of R&R before heading up to Seattle for the final leg of NHRA’s Western Swing.
Let’s get started with all the details from Sonoma. First of all, how about those NHRA fans? If you’re reading this and you were one of the loyal fans packed in the stands at Sonoma Raceway this weekend, we thank you. What a great turnout.
Our teams had a pretty solid qualifying effort overall but we were left with a first round race against teammates. We never want to see our DSR teams face each other in the first round and unfortunately that happened this weekend. Antron Brown, who has five wins this season, was paired against Spencer Massey for the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations. Antron had the higher qualified car but Spencer and the Battery Extender team made their best run of the weekend and got the round win. Spencer has 18 round wins this season with 13 of those wins coming from the bottom half of the qualifying field. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you qualify, just as long as you do!
I like to think that I brought the Battery Extender team a little extra luck after I warmed up their car on Saturday. It’s truly an incredible experience and it was the second full warm-up I got to do in their car. And this time my mom, Sarah, was there to see it. She wasn’t very excited about me doing it earlier this year but now that she has seen it, she’s much more comfortable with it. As long as I don’t drive one at least!
It was a tough day for the DSR teams as we weren’t able to get any of our cars in the winner’s circle this weekend so we are looking to close the Western Swing with a strong outing in Seattle. Matt Hagan his Mopar team got the win there last year and their car seems to have turned the corner and is running strong. Hopefully we can close the swing with a double-up!
On Thursday before Sonoma, I had all of my parents together for an amazing dinner at Café LaHaye in Sonoma. My dad Jon and stepmother Diane joined Don, my mom and I out in Sonoma for a fun weekend. We had a great dinner and then my dad and Diane joined us at the track on Sunday for race day. It was so great to have them out!
Another special guest I got to see out at Sonoma this weekend was former NAPA crew chief and NHRA legend Ed “Ace” McCulloch. The Ace is now retired from drag racing and lives near Fresno and came out to watch all of his DSR friends and his son, Jason, who is a crew chief over at the Al-Anabi team. Ace still keeps up with the NHRA world and watches on ESPN3 every weekend so it was cool to have him out with us this weekend.
Now I have to share some exciting news with you! Last week, I became a homeowner after closing on a condo in downtown Chicago. I’m so excited to start a new adventure and look forward to learning the ropes at Schumacher Electric. While it won’t keep me from the races and my work with DSR, I’m excited to learn the business side of things from Don. I couldn’t have a better teacher!
While here in Discovery Bay, I’m hanging out with one of my best friends, Alex Baca Medina. Her dad is former NHRA racer David Baca so I’ve known her a long time and it’s great to get to spend some time with her out here on the left coast. I (attempted) to learn how to wake surf on the Delta… it was a big challenge and I may or may not have wiped out in the process. It was a lot of fun though. We are spending a couple of days catching up and relaxing before I travel to Seattle on Wednesday.
Most of our teams spent Monday at Sonoma Raceway servicing before they travel up to Seattle for the last leg of the Swing. I think some of them plan to stop on the way up for some fun in the sun so I hope they get to do that, our hard-working teams are the best and the deserve it!
That’s all the news I have for now, so I’ll catch up with you all after Seattle. As always, thanks for reading!
Hello again everyone. We just finished the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, one of our favorite tracks on tour. And while the 2014 Mile-Highs weren’t a banner event for Team DSR, it was still a very fun weekend in Colorado to begin the Western Swing.
Things began early Thursday morning for Matt Hagan and the Mopar Funny Car team. Real early. Crew guys typically don’t love 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls, but our Wake Up Denver event at Red Rocks was not only unique, but fun.
The brainchild of Ted Yerzyk in the DSR front office, we took Matt’s Hemi 50th Anniversary Dodge Charger R/T flopper to the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre to start the car for morning TV. We had two Denver TV stations on-site and KUSA did live shots all morning which culminated with Don starting the Mopar FC around 8:30 a.m. It was so cool to see Don again sitting in a nitro Funny Car. It’s been a number of years since he started a nitro car, he thinks maybe Whit Bazemore’s car in the 2000s.
After the morning shows, we did a photo shoot with Matt, the team and our Mopar friends at Red Rocks Park. What an amazing back drop for a Funny Car photo shoot.
It also was neat to see the new 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat. We had Matt’s Mopar Funny Car and the Hellcat nose-to-nose. The bright red Challenger is beautiful and would make a fun weekend cruiser.
The day progressed with Matt, Jack Beckman and Spencer Massey attending the pre-event press conference at Morton’s in downtown Denver. A day earlier, Jack did a media tour in Colorado Springs to promote the Mile-Highs. With Jack being ex-Air Force, he’s the perfect driver to represent the NHRA in Colorado Springs.
And finally, our Thursday concluded with the annual Mopar Block Party in downtown Golden, Colo. Our good friend Willie B from KBPI radio in Denver was the host and we had MOPAR President Pietro Gorlier at the Block Party.
The Mopar Block Party is the best in-market sponsor activation on the NHRA tour. It’s a fun event with a live band, classic Mopar cars, current rides like Vipers and Dodge Challenger Hellcats, and thousands of fans. It’s amazing to see tons of people flock to Golden for this event.
At DSR, we’re very proud to represent Dodge and Mopar. It was great to see Mopar extend the title-rights sponsorship of the Mile-High Nationals and we’ve got some exciting things in store with MOPAR for 2015, so keep your eyes open for some announcements.
On Saturday morning, Willie B did a live remote trackside in our Army hospitality tent and we got to host Mopar legend Tom Hoover. Tom is considered the father of the Hemi, so to have him at the Mile-Highs as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Hemi was really neat.
If it wasn’t for the Hemi engine, nitro racing wouldn’t be what it is today.
Late Saturday morning before qualifying we hosted the NHRA community for an education event on the Infinite Hero Foundation. We had Oakley CEO Colin Baden and IHF director Laurie Baker on hand to educate the NHRA community on what Infinite Hero does. We also hosted veterans Gary Linfoot, who demonstrated the Exoskeleton that allows him to walk, and Neil Duncan, a double-amputee who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. It was very emotional to hear the stories Gary and Neil. Thank you Oakley for funding the Infinite Hero Foundation and thank you NHRA community for support a very amazing cause. To learn more, please visit www.whatisahero.com.
Most of you know that Jack Beckman is signing and selling IHF challenge coins. You can purchase a challenge coin that has taken a ride in Jack’s Funny Car for $100 with all proceeds going to IHF. Jack takes 10 coins on each pass down the track.Now, we’re going to help fans who can’t make it to the track purchase a coin.
Jack will now sign and number (1/5, 2/5… 5/5) five coins from each of the remaining 2014 NHRA races and we will put them on the DSR eBay store. The ‘Buy It Now’ price will be $120 and that includes your signed challenge coin and Oakley Infinite Hero Foundation t-shirt. All proceeds will go directly to the Infinite Hero Foundation.
We hope to have the coins from Denver on the eBay store later this week. Stay tuned for a quick press release and follow both the DSR and my Twitter accounts for details.
We head to Sonoma on Thursday and hope for a rebound weekend. Racing on the mountain is tough and it’s really tough when it’s 90 degrees out. We’re excited for another strong Team DSR performance at Sonoma where Ron Capps and the NAPA Auto Parts team won last July.
Thanks for reading and we’ll check in again next week before Seattle.