Hello all. It’s been a busy few weeks for us on the NHRA tour and it’s not slowing down this week, but I wanted to check-in with a brief update. After our extended stay in Atlanta, we flew home to Florida to turn around a few days later and head to Chicago for the summer.
I’m going to spend some time at Schumacher Electric Corp. in Mt. Prospect, Ill. this summer to learn the battery charger business. I feel that I need to become more well-rounded and learn both SEC and DSR. So, I’ll spend time between both for some time. I’m excited to work with Cory and the group at SEC and start my professional career.
Topeka was a much smoother race than Atlanta for Team DSR. Q2 was cancelled due to rain on Friday night, but the rest of the weekend was fairly smooth. After some rain on Saturday morning, we got both qualifying sessions in and had fantastic weather for race day. Most importantly, we left the event intact with no damage. I know our fab shop appreciates that.
We didn’t get to Topeka until Sunday as I celebrated my 23rd birthday last Friday. I want to thank all the fans for the birthday wishes on Twitter and Facebook. NHRA fans truly are very kind and thoughtful. I celebrated the day with dinner at Gibson’s in Chicago with my family and friends.
We got to the track on Sunday morning and during DSR driver intros, Antron joked that diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend, Wally’s are. LOL That Antron always has funny lines. He could be a stand up comedian.
I guess AB knew something as Spencer and the Battery Extender team won their second straight race. It was win No. 225. I had some of my longtime friends from Chicago with us, so it was great that they could celebrate with us in the winner’s circle at Heartland Park. A Wally truly is the best birthday present.
We didn’t get a win in Funny Car, but I do want to congratulate Courtney Force on her amazing accomplishment on Sunday. She won the 100th race as a female driver in NHRA drag racing. There’s been much talk about who would get the milestone win and it was so cool to see such a good friend earn that special win. Court and I are good friends and when our cars don’t win, I want to see her to well.
We’re gearing up to head east to New Jersey tomorrow. Our drivers, crew chiefs and front office staff are joining a group from Make-A-Wish for a team function tomorrow night and we’re excited to continue to learn about the Make-A-Wish group and introduce them to our sport. It’s a such a great program and we’re hoping the partnership continues for many years.
The weather forecast is calling for unseasonably cool temps this weekend. Low 70s in late May at Raceway Park should be very quick and fast. We saw Ron Capps and the NAPA team run 3.964 two years ago, so we’ll see if anyone can lower that mark? And can a dragster run 3.69? It should be exciting!
Have a great week.
Hello again. It’s not too often that I miss a race weekend, but I had a good personal excuse. I graduated from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. with a master’s degree in business.
Yeah! I’m finally done with school. Now I get to be a grown up. Haha.
If I had to miss one race weekend, well, Atlanta was sure the one to miss for our DSR teams. It was indeed a taxing race for our camp.
I graduated on Friday and let me tell you, to graduate with a masters and undergraduate degree in under five years was no easy feat. I am very proud of my accomplishment especially to accomplish that while traveling to and from most NHRA races during my time at Lynn. I enjoyed getting to spend my graduation day with all four of my amazing parents, my mom, Sarah, Don, dad, Jon, and stepmom, Diane. They all have been so supportive and that support blanket is so crucial.
The five of us were sitting at dinner on Friday evening when Don received a phone call from the track after Antron’s crash. There is not a more helpless feeling then when a driver crashes, especially when we aren’t on-site to support the driver, his family and the team. We are so grateful that Antron was a-okay and popped right out of that Matco Tools dragster and hopped over the retaining wall. AB is one tough cookie, and his safety is a true testament to how well-built our race cars are at the DSR fab shop. Kudos to Joe, Tom, Hank and Dan for their tireless efforts. Also, the wonderful safety benefits of the enclosed canopy on our three dragsters and the rail of Brittany Force. I’m not a driver, have no desire to be, but I don’t know how anyone would get into a dragster without a canopy on it.
After realizing all was okay, I saw a tweet from Tom Patsis who works at our fab shop that said “Antron, very happy you’re safe, we have many more race cars but we only have one Antron.” For me, that put it all in perspective. Everyone at our fab shop works very hard to make race cars for our teams and the foremost goal is driver safety.
Our fab shop guys are so dedicated they were at the shop on Saturday morning, on an off weekend, to start working on Antron’s new chassis. That’s dedication and a great example of the #OneTeam mindset that encompasses DSR.
We watched the final session of qualifying live on ESPN2. We watched with disbelief as the Dodge body blasted off of Jack Beckman’s car in Q4 at Atlanta Dragway. We were again very grateful Jack was safe. Lightning does strike twice in NHRA race. Much like the final round of last summer’s Traxxas Funny Car Shootout, Jack’s Valvoline MaxLife Dodge exploded in the right lane at the top end. This time though, there was no $100,000 bonus or trophy, just carnage.
Jack did a great job on television explaining to the NHRA fans what it’s like to have a 10,000 horsepower engine explode at 300 mph. Jack is very vivid is his description and we’re glad he’s safe and ready to go 300-mph again real soon.
The NHRA fans did get a surprise treat from Mother Nature on Saturday as we were treated to live NHRA qualifying on ESPN2. I got to say, as much as I missed being at the track, it was very cool to watch live NHRA racing on TV.
After a long and wet Sunday, a few race cars finally hit the track some eight hours after the scheduled start time. But after five pairs of dragsters, NHRA officials were forced to postpone the rest of eliminations until Monday.
After some rest, the teams were back at it for a meaningful “Monday Nationals.” Teams typically refer to Monday testing at the “Monday Nationals” and yesterday they were racing for real Wally trophies, not time slips.
Our three DSR dragsters continue to roll and Spencer Massey and the Battery Extender team ensured that all three DSR dragsters will race for the $100,000 payday on Aug. 30 in the Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout. It’s great that all three of our Top Fuelers have now won races. It was Spencer’s 15th career win.
A big applause to Antron and the Matco team. After the crash, they qualified third on Saturday, ran 3.74 in the second round and posted a semifinal finish. They continue to have a great season and will win many more races.
All of us at DSR want to thank all the fans who tweeted me and the @ShoeRacing accounting with messages of concern and well wishes to Antron and Jack and also the very kind words of congratulations on my graduation. We really do have amazing fans.
That’s all for now. What a weekend, but thankfully all involved are safe. Now, let’s hope for a calmer weekend at Topeka. Have a great week.
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.