When you have a race that’s as steeped in tradition, lore, and longevity as the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, now in its 69th year, you can’t help thinking about those who went before you, especially if you’re Bob Tasca III.
Tasca’s grandfather, Bob Tasca Sr., got the family started in racing Fords back in the early 1960s and it’s a tradition that his grandson carries with him today with the Quick Lane/Motorcraft Ford that enters Saturday of the U.S. National sitting at the head of the Funny Car class.
“I tweeted out a picture of [a diecast of] my grandfather's red truck with his 1965 Mustang on it, the Super Stock they called the Zimmy III,” said Tasca. “In my mind that was them, Wednesday night, headed for Indy.
I got into NHRA drag racing because of the stories my grandfather told me as a kid. In 1965, around this time, they were heading to Indy to create the stories that ignited my passion for racing. This weekend, we're adding a few more stories at Indy, 58 years later! Go Ford pic.twitter.com/WvhHEXzBya— Bob Tasca III (@Tasca3) August 30, 2023
“And I just thought for a moment, ‘That's what got me inspired to drag race,” which was the stories of what my grandfather, Billy Lawton, John Healy, and Ralph Porier did. And that was 58 years ago and we're still in Indy out here swinging as hard as we can.
“I get emotional just thinking about it. I think it's what's so special about this sport, the generations. I mean, my grandfather goes back to the Wally Parks days and to be able to continue on what he started. I don't know if there's a time I get in that car that I don’t think about my grandfather. I have this decal on the side of the cars I get in and I think about him all the time.
“My goal from the very beginning was to leave our family's history a little richer than I found it. You don't know if you're gonna win championships, you don't know what you're going to do, right? And that's what I've been focused on my whole career and have been very fortunate that I've had incredible people around me.
“And now I have my kids around me now. It's just exciting. They love it. They're passionate about it. They have a lot of work to do before they're gonna get in a car; they're gonna go to school, they're gonna run some dealerships. They're gonna buy some dealerships. They don't realize I didn't start racing till I was 32. But we're a family business. We work together at the dealerships, and we race together out here.”
Tasca has never won the U.S. Nationals, though he’s come close three times, scoring back-to-back runner-ups in Top Alcohol Funny Car in 2006 and 2007, losing both times to undisputed U.S. Nationals-win king Frank Manzo (11 Indy wins), and a runner-up in fuel Funny Car behind Mike Neff in 2011.
“This would be an epic race to win,” he said. “There's no question about that. I've come close a few times and I can tell we're gonna leave it all out there this week.”
It’s a busy weekend for Tasca as in addition to trying to win the U.S. Nationals and bolster his points position heading into the Countdown to the Championship, he’s part of Saturday’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge and also part of Sunday’s Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Funny Car Callout. He could leave here a triple winner.
“There’s so much going on at this race. I've never been to a race that has all of these big implications: points for the Mission Challenge, obviously the Callout, it's a big deal. And then I could finish third or I could leave here seventh, depending on the points and a half.
“The way that I approach it, and I know our team does, is just one round at a time. You roll up, you want to run as quick as we can on whatever the track temperature is in front of us and do the best we can. If you start to think too far ahead, you get yourself in trouble. We can't try any harder than we try. If you try to overthink it, you can just make it worse for yourself. But, man, this is an epic race. I mean, this might be an all-timer, right? They have three-in-one and the implications. And just to be a part of it and see the crowd here on Friday night at Indy I don't know if it gets much cooler.
"One of the things about our car is that we can run low e.t. at any given time, and not every car can say that. And when you're racing a car that can run low e.t. at any given point in time, you have to be ready to go to the mat, and that's what’s already put us in a position to win, and we're gonna just try to carry this momentum on for the rest of the weekend.”