Eight-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher returns for six more 2020 races
Tony Schumacher, the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history, will return to the seat of a Don Schumacher Racing Top Fuel dragster to compete at six of the remaining 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events.
Schumacher temporarily rejoined the DSR stable for the Indy 1 and 2 events last month after a year-and-a-half hiatus from racing. He will make his second comeback aboard the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant dragster starting with the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, September 4-6. Schumacher will then compete at the next five NHRA events that follow the prestigious Labor Day weekend race.
Calling the shots on Schumacher’s co-branded machine will be championship crew chief Mike Green. The Schumacher/Green duo dominated the dragstrip from 2009 through 2017, having won 27 races, and two Top Fuel world championships (2009, 2014) together.
“I’m thrilled to be teaming up again with Mike,” said Schumacher, an 84-time national event winner. “He is very knowledgeable and I’m excited we have the opportunity to race together again. We worked together for so long, and I look forward to getting back into familiar territory with him. We’ve had a ton of success in the past, and I know we can expand on that in this new chapter.”
The opportunity for the Schumacher/Green six-race reunion tour came about thanks to an Okuma/Sandvik Coromant partnership. Okuma was scheduled to have primary branding on Leah Pruett’s car at three upcoming events, while Sandvik Coromant was going to be the primary on Matt Hagan’s machine, also scheduled for three upcoming events. With the abbreviated 2020 NHRA schedule, it was of the utmost importance to DSR to fulfill these obligations and a plan was formed to ensure that both organizations were well-represented on the race track.
“Okuma and Sandvik Coromant are very important partners to not only DSR but DSM as well,” said Don Schumacher, owner of DSR and Don Schumacher Motorsports Precision Manufacturing (DSM). “DSM has used Okuma machine tools since 2006 and now runs nearly all of our in-house and customer production on our 16 Okuma machines. Our partnership with Sandvik extends back to 2012. DSM has one of 19 global Sandvik Training Centers inside our building here in Brownsburg, and we rely on their tooling and engineering to fully utilize our Okuma machines.
“These are uncertain times given everything going on with the global COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re doing everything we can to not only to continue to adapt and be flexible to the ever-evolving situation, but also ensure that we continue to deliver upon our commitments to our partners. This new partnership allows Matt (Hagan) and Leah (Pruett) to fulfill Mopar obligations while providing a unique co-branding opportunity for Sandvik and Okuma. Who better to sub-in and represent their brands than the most successful Top Fuel driver of all time? It’s a win all-around.”
Tony Schumacher’s 11,000-horsepower rail will feature a unique ’half-and-half’ style livery, with one side of the dragster decked out primarily in Okuma branding, and the other side prominently displaying the Sandvik scheme. The two organizations will share equal billing on the top of the dragster.
“Okuma America Corporation is excited to partner with Sandvik Coromant and Don Schumacher Racing for a six-race sponsorship of the Top Fuel dragster driven by eight-time champion, Tony Schumacher,” said Tim Thiessen, Okuma Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Since 2006, Okuma has been a proud partner off the track as well. As a strategic partner of DSM, our machine tools have an essential role in manufacturing precision parts for the motorsports industry as well as DSM’s recent expansion into the aerospace, automotive, and defense industries.”
“Sandvik Coromant is honored to partner with not just one, but two incredible technology innovators this season – DSR/DSM, and Okuma America. Together, we proudly represent eight-time champion, Tony Schumacher, and his Top Fuel dragster,” said Brian Flores, Sandvik Coromant Channel Manager, US East. “Setting nearly every NHRA Top Fuel record, including most event titles, poles, and world titles, Tony and his Top Fuel crew take advantage of the high-performance parts produced by DSM, Okuma, and Sandvik Coromant. The combined strength of our expertise, quality, and knowledge advances the science of machining to benefit the NHRA and the sport of drag racing.”
For Schumacher, racing at these next six events is not only a tremendous opportunity to banner two very important brands to the DSR/DSM organizations, but a way to get back on the race track and into the Top Fuel mix.
“Sandvik and Okuma are very valuable to our organization,” said the second-generation racer. “Their products are crucial components in the preparation and manufacturing of the hundreds of parts we produce at DSM. Our parts and pieces have to be perfect, and that is no small order. We know we can rely on them.
“I’ve met the folks at both Okuma and Sandvik quite a few times at our Open House and at the race track, and we’ve always got along very well. It’s an honor to be able to represent them over these next six events. I appreciate them offering me this opportunity. At those first two races last month, I was surprised how quickly everything came back to me and felt natural. I still had that muscle memory from all of those years on the track.
“It felt so good to be back in a Top Fuel dragster and to be out there mingling with the fans. This is what I love to do. I’m so grateful that I’ll have the opportunity to be back in a DSR-prepared canopy car, racing with the winningest team in drag racing, and with my old crew chief in my corner.”
The Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Top Fuel team will make its debut on Friday, Sept. 4 at Lucas Oil Raceway at the upcoming NHRA U.S. Nationals where Schumacher is a 10-time event winner.