NHRA - National Hot Rod Association


Funny Car Driver of the Decade: Robert Hight

Robert Hight won more than anyone and brought home a pair of titles in the 2010s
30 Dec 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Robert Hight

Funny Car enjoyed more parity as a category during the 2010s than at any point during the modern era. That’s just a long way of saying: Hey! Someone other than John Force won some races! That’s the good news if you don’t work for John Force Racing. The bad news? Robert Hight picked up the torch and while, no, the flame didn’t burn quite as brightly as it did for his boss … well, it’s still burning.

Hight won 37 races during the 2010s to go with a pair of championships and both ends of the national record. You don’t get any points for going quicker and faster than anyone else, but I would rather go faster than everyone than slower than everyone. Your mileage may vary.

The Auto Club Chevy Camaro driver did not lead the win totals by a wide margin, another testament to how tight the category is in its current form. Ron Capps left the 2010s with 34 wins, his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan notched 31 and two titles. Winning titles is more fraught than it’s ever been, something Hight will tell you as assuredly as any other driver; it’s also the goal.

That goal, accomplished by stacking round wins, highlights how close Hight and Capps have been to one another throughout the decade. Hight averaged 1.57 round wins a race, just behind the 1.59 mark set by Capps. Hight won at a rate of .14 wins a race, slightly better than the .13 or .12 put up by Capps and Hagan, respectively.

There are few areas where the racers separate themselves. Hight posted a better reaction time average over the past 10 years, but by a tiny margin. He averaged a .0768-second reaction time compared to Capps' .0773 – and Capps turned on fewer red lights, albeit a small number over a large sample.

All this is what makes the rivalry, which perhaps should be talked about in such stark terms more frequently, so interesting. The racers are the best in the business and have the Wallys in the closet to prove it. It’s also nearly impossible to separate them – but someone got the bright idea to sit down and do it.

Hight has the receipts to separate himself from the pack. Two world championships and the slightest of advantages in Wally count gets the job done. All of these drivers are quick to point out the importance of their crew chiefs, and they’re right, but Jimmy Prock’s excellence doesn’t diminish Hight’s achievement over this last decade. The same is true for Rahn Tobler and Capps and Dickie Venables and Hagan.

As close as the racing was during the 2010s, there’s every opportunity the field will grow even more competitive in the 2020s.