Every year at the Sonoma race ,the wonderful family from MBA racing make all kinds of goodies for me and our Napa team,along with my favorite Rice Crispies treat shaped like our Napa funny car...and yes,I am standing on my tippy toes in this pic with Barbara and April,this is one tall family!
I just got up this Friday morning before having to get out to the track for qualifying today up here in Seattle and as usual; it has been a very busy last few weeks. I’m not complaining because this time of the year is my favorite time of our season.
In my last installment on here I had just left Norwalk and packed the RV up and we headed up north to the Central Coast of California. I grew up in San Luis Obispo which I still consider home and still feels like Gods country (there is more to the Madonna Inn), but as we have done the last few years, we head up to Lake San Antonio which is just outside Paso Robles and we spend a week there.
Then I either usually take the RV down to Pismo Beach for a week to the Pismo Coast Village there in Pismo (awesome place!),or like this year, I took it over to the Wine Country RV resort and left the family there while I had to fly out of SLO and up to Denver for our Mopar Nationals.
The lake was a great time as usual, friends and family with watercraft and boats and fishing and basically time for me personally to recharge myself and relax before gearing up for the run our Indy race.
The RV resort in Paso is across the street from "the Ravine" watermark and they always take great care of me and our group and the kids enjoyed it pretty much every day while I was up in Denver sweating the near 100 degree temps.
We had a great NAPA race car up in Denver as Rahn Tobler and our team approached Denver this year with much different approach than he said he has in the past and it worked as we had a great qualifying position once again and quickest of the first couple of rounds before Courtney Force’s team dropped the hammer on us in the semifinals.
I then hitched a ride back to Santa Maria with Alan Johnson which got me back to my family by 8 p.m. that Sunday night. We spent the next couple of days at the California Mid State Fair in Paso as our friend Mark Borjon set up the kids with tickets to "Big Time Rush" which is one of those kids bands.
Then Tuesday night was Loverboy/Pat Benatar/Journey concert. One of my friends that tours with Nickelback was helping on that tour and set us up with great tickets for a bunch of friends that I grew up with and my family and it was a great night.
The next morning I had to hightail it in the bus up to Sonoma because it was Taylor's 16th birthday and we weren’t going to not make this one special, believe me. I planned a limo from Magnum tours (thanks again Jim!) to pick us up at the track (a surprise), then we flew her cousin Ashley up from Pomona to the Oakland airport (another surprise), then I had gone online while in Denver and scored some great seats to Kelly Clarkson, who was playing in nearby Concord, Calif. (you guessed it, another surprise!). Keeping all of that from her was not easy, but we pulled it off and she (and us) had a great time.
The awesome week continued with a wine tour on Thursday with 3 other couples that was a blast and we arrive back to the track at 5 p.m. and had to change clothes and get over to the Eric Medlen Nitro night we do every year and once again, the staff at the Sonoma track made it another great event with Eric's family and friends and all the fans that attended, if you have never been, you better sign up for next year!
We had another great Napa hot rod in Sonoma with a great qualifying run on Friday night, and we did our annual NAPA dinner in Sonoma with all the NAPA guests at the Estate restaurant in Sonoma.
Sunday has been good to us there in the past as we have won the race the last two years, but this year we pulled the tires loose in the first round and our day was done. We got on the road in the RV late Sunday night, stopped at Harris Ranch on the way home and then got home, unpacked, repacked for my trip to Portland for our Wednesday night event with the Wilson NAPA group and then last night we had over 200 people here in Seattle at the local K1 Speed indoor karting and it was a blast. I am a little sore this morning ( imagine that....), but nothing makes me feel better than being able to crawl in our NAPA Funny Car like I am going to be able to do here in a few hours.
Have to run ,talk to you soon.
I am writing this from Lake San Antonio just outside Paso Robles, California. It is just north of where I grew up in San Luis Obispo.
We gather up the family every year at this time and come out here with friends and hang out on boats and SeaDoo's. It really is my favorite time of the year. The kids are growing so fast and I get to spend a little bit of down time with family and the friends I grew up with.
I will leave them all here in Paso Robles next week and fly up to the Denver race. After the Denver race is over, I try to hitch a ride on Alan Johnson’s plane back to Santa Maria (just south of here). Once I get back from Denver, we usually hit the California Mid-State Fair in Paso for a couple of concerts before piling in the RV and driving up to the Sonoma race.
The Denver race, the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, is always a special event for everyone at Don Schumacher Racing. DSR has a long, storied history with Mopar and we are thrilled to be able to carry on that tradition. It’s definitely a special year for Mopar in 2012, as the brand celebrates their 75th Anniversary. The Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals is a big part of that history, and we’d like to add another chapter this year with a win.
The Mopar Big Block Party is such a good time. To be able to visit with fans away from the race track in a relaxed setting is pretty cool. If it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t get to race, so it’s great to be able to give back to the fans in an event like the Mopar Big Block Party.
The Napa team went right to our shop after Norwalk and our awesome chassis department with Norm leading the way are currently putting a new chassis together that we will run through the Indy race before bring out another new DSR in house built chassis at that time that we hope to run through the end of our season.
Man, it is 110 degrees at noon here already and I hate to cut this short, but I need to go jump in the lake. Haha, that sounded funny.no?
Anyway, I will talk to you all soon!
This picture says it all
(Above) Riley bowling with us. (Below) Riley in the hospital as a "premie"...that is her Dad's wedding ring believe it or not...wow.
It's funny, because I looked back at my last blog on NHRA 's site was probably the only place you will see something with Justin Beiber in the same breath as the band Seether. Well, once again it has been an incredible and very busy last couple of weeks both on and off the track and I can't help but start with the on the track stuff first.
Backing up a little bit, we all enjoyed our Memorial Day weekend with family and friends and then I was able to do my one day shoot on the new Snake & Mongoose movie that is filming right now. Let me just tell you how cool this movie is going to be!
Anyway, back in Kansas I had a talk with Rahn Tobler and John Collins after we lost the final round in Topeka and they talked about going to our next race in Englishtown and the chance that we could see great conditions on our Friday night qualifying sessions and how he wanted to try some things that he had in the back of his mind if the conditions were there.
Well, as most of you know, the conditions were just that ...awesome. I strapped into the NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car with about four pairs of cars in front of us and already at that point, the cars were throwing mid 4.0 runs like they were going out of style and I knew when we finally rolled up to the line as the last pair of funny cars, that Tobler was looking for a big run.
When I was about half track I was pretty sure it was on a career best run for me and the NAPA team, but I had no idea that a 3.96 second run at over 320 mph was going to come up on the scoreboard. The quickest run in history for a Funny Car and the second run ever under four seconds (my teammate Hagan being the first) and it couldn’t have happened at a more historic track and with our thoughts still with Scott Kalitta, it was only appropriate that it happened that weekend .
Our NAPA Auto Parts team had a great time celebrating that night when we got back to our hotel and then it was business as usual for us as we concentrated on winning the race. We made some great runs on Sunday and Tobler and the NAPA team put us into our fifth straight final round, but we came up a little short and lost to our teammate Johnny Gray and the Service Central team in the final who ran a great 4.07.
I then hopped on a plane and headed straight back to Indy on Monday for a couple of reasons. We had the Riley Childrens Hospital bowling event that DSR and NAPA puts on in Indy every year and it was even more special this year as I got to spend some time with a girl named Riley that was a "premi" baby that was born something like 15 weeks early and here she was bowling next to us on this great night.
We had some really great drivers join us, DSR drivers as well as all the local drivers that live in Indy and we raised a lot of dollars for a very special cause that is close to Don Schumacher's heart.
Getting ready to leave Eagle Creek airport for Eldora with Capt. Rob
The next night was our annual Prelude to the Dream all-star dirt at Tony Stewart's Eldora track in Ohio and we had another great time as we had our usual group of people that went with me. This year captain Rob brought a jet for the flight over there and on top of that ,when we landed Tony Stewart arranged for me to hop into a waiting helicopter for a really cool and quick ride into the track. Leave it to "Smoke" to make it first class!
I just ran up Tuesday night to the 2012 Ink n Iron show in Long Beach to see my friends in the band Pennywise play their last U.S. show before heading over to Europe. I had a blast basically sitting right on the stage during their show and saw a bunch of NHRA fans as well.
As you know from following my Twitter or on this NHRA.com blog, we shot our annual commercials in Hawaii last year during my NAPA Auto Parts tour and the commercials we shot just started airing. You can check them out on our YouTube page here ( http://youtu.be/NaDX-uZfgQQ ), they are entertaining to say the least. There are two NAPA Auto Parts commercials and another one we shot for the local Dodge dealer on the big island as well. Hope you enjoy it.
Prior to the Atlanta race I got to go to hang out with guys from Seether during their show on the Seether/BUSH/Nickelback tour
I told that if you blinked your eyes after our 4Wide race in Charlotte that things were going to look different in the NHRA points standings. The last blog I wrote on here, we were headed to Houston after our NAPA Auto Parts team had a great race at zMAX Dragway with a trip to the final round and we were very pumped up about being able to continue that momentum to our next event and that is exactly what Rahn Tobler, John Collins and our NAPA team did in Houston. We made all 4 runs in qualifying under power and all four runs on Sunday with either low elapsed time of the round or right with anyone's runs on Sunday and we carried that all the way to our second final round in a row before losing to Mike Neff in the final round.
We had a quick turnaround that week before we had to get on the road and get to our next race in Atlanta, well we always say Atlanta when the track is pretty far out of Atlanta, in Commerce, Ga. Since NAPA Auto Parts headquarters is located IN Atlanta, we had plenty of stuff cooking that week. I had to fly in a day early for an event on Thursday and I got a call from my friends on the Seether and Nickelback tour and they were playing in downtown Atlanta on that Wednesday night, so I landed and checked into my hotel and wandered over to the concert all by my lonesome and my friends in Seether had just got the stage when I walked in and they were great as always.
They finished their set and as Bush came on stage they grabbed me and we went backstage for some hydrating and liquid lubricating if you know what I mean. We got carried away with the time and went back out next to the stage to watch Nickelback finish their set and we hung out after the show. Let’s just say that I left the tour busses in the wee morning. I woke up a few hours later in my hotel room, hopped in the shower and tried to wake up for one of the most fun days I have had in a while. I was asked to throw out the first pitch at the Atlanta Braves noon home game on the Thursday prior to our race that weekend.
The whole NAPA team was invited up to the NAPA suite and I think there were so many NHRA racers and fans in the stadium and it was making me even more nervous about my pitch. We had a great time that afternoon and I had to leave in the 8th inning to head out to Lake Lanier for another NAPA get together with about 200 of their best customers that night.
Atlanta is a track that we have always done well at, but it is also a track that has alluded us from a win and this year that all changed. The whole weekend just had one of the "feels" to it, ya know? Our crew brought a cardboard stand up of the "World’s most interesting man" and he watched the day go by, round by round. Being that it was a very hot and tricky racetrack, Tobler and the guys kept us with lane choice all day on Sunday and I finally got a win in Atlanta! What a great weekend it was, especially with NAPA being headquartered there an all. We shared the winners circle with Mike Rearden from NAPA, along with his wife Jan, and we gave the trophy to Mike since it was the first time he was at one of our races during a win.
They took us (and the trophy) to a great dinner that night at a great little Italian restaurant and we celebrated the win together before I took the trophy to NAPA’s HQ the next morning and had lunch with all of the NAPA execs in town. It was a very proud moment for me to represent DSR and take that "Wally" down there and share it with them. Trust me, it is hard enough to win, let alone win in your sponsors backyard.
We had a weekend off of racing before having to go to Topeka, Kansas for our next NHRA event, but I had a pretty full schedule and much more miles to cover in the air before I saw the weekend. I left Atlanta and flew up to Canada to London,Ontario and we then drove to Stratford, Ontario for a dinner and an appearance with Ideal Supply company up there. If you ever get the chance to get up there, it is one of the most beautiful cities you will ever see AND it is the hometown of Justin Bieber. Ironically while I was up there and I got to hang out with the Hyde family that are both racers, brother and sister Spencer and Sydnie ( http://www.quick32.ca/2012/05/nhras-ron-capps-visits-hyde-racing/). Knowing that my daughter is 15, and Sydnie being close enough to the Bieber family, she surprised me with a CD signed by Justin... pretty cool (for Taylor that is).
I went to Canada for NAPA, met some great people and was rewarded with a CD signed by hometown boy Bieber (I swear it is for my daughter....)
With my passport back out, I flew out early the next morning to Marion, Ind., for a grand opening of a new NAPA store. It was a noon– 2 p.m. appearance on a Thursday with them advertising me being there, you sometimes wonder how many people are going to be at an event like this, but man was I shocked when we rolled up to the new store and saw all of the fans that were lined up waiting. It really reminds you how lucky we are to have such great fans! I flew back home that night and was able to spend a much need weekend at home. I got to help out in Caden’s class then on Saturday night we all gathered around the TV and watched the Darlington NASCAR race hoping to watch my teammate Martin Truex Jr. get his first win in a NAPA uniform. they are doing great and a win is coming soon.
That Sunday night I was asked to be on Dave Despain's "Wind Tunnel" show on SPEED channel (http://www.speedtv.com//video/wind-tunnel/interviews/wind-tunnel-ron-capps-may-14th-1639420431001/1#_). They sent the big satellite truck again to the house and once again it was it was very cool to represent the NHRA on such a big motorsports show.
Last weekend was our race in Topeka, Kansas and NAPA allowed us to run the NAPA Brakes body that we won in Atlanta for one more race. Rahn Tobler and the guys came in Topeka with a great plan and while we have been No. 2 qualifier for the last few races, we ran a great 4.07 that put us 4th in qualifying and Sunday morning brought us another warm day on race day. Tobler once again kept us in the lane of his choice all day with some stunning runs that were very impressive considering most of the other cars were having a tough time even getting down the track and Rahn sent me down with a staggering 4.12 in the semifinals, so we felt very good going into the final against our DSR teammate Beckman and the Valvoline NextGen team.
Jack's engine came to life as I was waiting for the tree to come down and away we went...I was sure he red lit, but I looked up at the scoreboard about halftrack and didn’t see my win light on and I could see his fender out my side window all the way down the track. Jack had a .004 light and that got their team a much needed win, and those team guys were my crew guys for the last 4 years, so we were happy for them.
It is a tough way to lose, but I did the same thing to Gary Densham in the final round in Phoenix one year. My foot said time to go and luckily for me the tree came on and we got the win. Don Schumacher was at home recuperating from foot surgery, so for him to have his two Funny Cars in the final I am sure it made him proud. The bright side is that our NAPA team moved solidly into second place in the Full Throttle standings and Jack's team moved up a few positions as well.
We have Memorial weekend off to catch our breath and relax a bit before things get busy again. We race Englishtown next weekend and then I am going straight to Indy for our annual DSR/NAPA bowling event in Indy on Tuesday, June 5 (http://www.shoeracing.com/news/nhra-pro-racers-to-hit-a-different-lane-june-5-join-bowlers-to-raise-money-for-riley-kids) that will have all the DSR drivers as well as a bunch of other NHRA drivers there that night.
Then the next night is the Prelude to the Dream all-star dirt race at Eldora Speedway on Wednesday, June 6th. It is on PPV, only about $25 for the PPV and it is once again going to be great cause as host Tony Stewart picked "Feed the Children" as the charity this year. You can go to the web site (http://www.preludetothedream.org/) to check out all the NASCAR, IndyCar and other motorsports drivers that Cruz Pedregon and I will compete against. If you haven’t seen the race before, tune into the PPV and check it out.
Don’t forget that you can always keep up with me on a daily basis through my Twitter posts as well (@NapaRonCapps). Have a great weekend and talk to you soon! RC