LUCAS, TODD ENJOY THRILL RIDE COMPETING IN BAJA 1000: Lucas Oil racing teammates Morgan Lucas and J.R. Todd’s first appearance in the 40th annual SCORE Tecate Baja 1000 didn’t quite produce the finish they were looking for. After rolling their truck coming off a slippery corner and experiencing subsequent engine troubles, the Top Fuel drivers were only able to complete 175 miles of the famous 1,296 mile race. But every heart-pounding moment of the experience was far from lost in the drivers’ memories.
“It was cool to say the least,” said Lucas. “We pulled up, and when the starter raised his hand to begin the countdown, I brought up the motor to around 4,000 rpm. And when he said '3-2-1,' bam! I dropped the clutch and probably had a .000 (reaction time) on the tree leaving out of there.” Todd and Lucas rode in the same Class 1 Lucas Oil Products/Torco Race Fuels Diablo Penhall/Chevy off-road vehicle, with Lucas driving and Todd navigating.
PRO STOCK’S RICHIE STEVENS AND DSR PART WAYS AFTER 2007 SEASON: Citing a 30% cutback in Mopar’s entire racing budget that has trickled down to the multicar racing operation, Don Schumacher Racing parted ways with Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens Jr. Schumacher informing Stevens that he would not be fielding his J&J Racing/Team Mopar Dodge Stratus in 2008 unless another sponsor shows up to fill the void. Overall in his career, Stevens has six event wins in 11 final rounds and earned three No. 1 qualifier awards.
JOHN FORCE DOING WELL AFTER SECOND SURGERY: Funny Car legend John Force traveled back to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Sunday, November 18, to remove casts on his left ankle and hand and for further surgery on his left hand following a semifinal round accident in Dallas in September. John Force Racing Marketing Coordinator Chad Light told National DRAGSTER Senior Editor Phil Burgess that the five pins originally placed in Force’s wrist were removed and that he was doing well following the surgery. Light also said that Force was fitted with an air boot cast and that he still will be on a non-weight bearing status for two to three weeks. For pictures, visit www.nhra.com/2007/dragster.asp.
TEAM OWNER DON SCHUMACHER PARTICIPATES IN NEW YORK PANEL DISCUSSION: Former racer and current team owner Don Schumacher will participate in a panel discussion on November 27 at the Motorsports Marketing Summit in New York City. Schumacher, who fields teams in four professional categories in the NHRA POWERade Series, will join other motorsports business leaders in the “Opportunities in Emerging Motorsports: Reaching New Markets and Demographics” discussion. Joining Schumacher in the discussion will be Robert Dingham of AMA, Roger Edmondson of Grand-Am, Ben Geisler of World of Outlaws, among others.
NITRO BLAST OFF, LAS VEGAS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, JANUARY 18–20: The elite teams of the NHRA POWERade Series will get their first whiff of the competition for 2008 at this first of three optional showcase pre-season test sessions.
NATIONAL TIME TRIALS, PHOENIX, FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, JANUARY 25–27: Pre-season action moves from Nevada to Arizona as the professional teams continue to tweak off-season changes at this second of three optional test sessions.
LAST CHANCE TEST SESSION AND PONTIAC PRO STOCK SHOWDOWN, LAS VEGAS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, FEBRUARY 1–3: This aptly named test session is the final of three optional events that allow professional drivers to test their rides before formal competition opens for 2008. The 200-mph NHRA Pro Stock cars also will race for bragging rights in the annual Pro Stock Showdown.
CARQUEST AUTO PARTS WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, FEBRUARY 7–10: Kick-off the 2008 NHRA POWERade Series Countdown to the Championship at the historic track where last year’s winners included J.R. Todd, Gary Scelzi and Greg Anderson.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
132: The number of POWERade Series wins, in 217 final-round appearances, split between Pro Stock father-son combo, Warren and Kurt Johnson, one of which came early this season in Phoenix with Kurt picking up his 36th career win. They are also the first father-and-son to compete in a professional final round (Atlanta, 1993).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
HERBERT HAPPY WITH COUNTDOWN PERFORMANCE: Battling back from as low as 16th in the point standings to make it into the first round of the Countdown playoffs, The Countdown to Four, with an amazing rain-delayed win in Reading, no driver is more supportive of the Countdown to the Championship than Top Fuel driver Doug Herbert.
“I’m the poster child for the Countdown,” Herbert told NHRA.com Senior Editor Rob Geiger. “To me, that’s exactly what makes the Countdown exciting, the fact that just about any racer running full-time out there has a chance to make the playoffs. I’m a believer. The Countdown worked for us. I think it worked for everyone pretty much.”
DRIVERS TELL ALL
LUCAS ON THE “DANGERS” OF BAJA : Top Fuel teammates for 2008, Morgan Lucas and J.R. Todd had the opportunity to build on that teammate bond, competing as driver and navigator in the 40th annual SCORE Tecate Baja 1000. Lucas, who drove while Todd navigated, said that some of the most difficult parts of the race came not from the terrain, but from the fans attending the event.
“We finally hit the open road, where we encountered everything from having to dodge fire pits and other booby traps people had set up to having rocks thrown at us. It was an unforgettable experience driving across terrain you couldn’t imagine.”