Whew. What a whirlwind week it was last weekend in California for the season-opening Winternationals. It was a bit of work and pleasure for me in sunny So Cal. Well, it was sunny most of the time.
I flew into town a few days early to hang out with some of my friends that live in Southern California. I stayed with the Medina’s and the highlight of our trip was going to the Chicago Blackhawks/Anaheim Ducks NHL game. Our friend Graham Rahal got us tickets and we even got to tour the Ducks locker room with goalie Jonas Hiller. That was fun.
A day later, Tony dropped the first puck at Staples Center before the LA Kings/Columbus Blue Jackets game. The Kings were very gracious hosts. They treated Tony and our DSR staff great and really promoted the NHRA Winternationals. The Kings sat our group in the “Ice Box,” which is located at center ice, on the glass, in between both benches. It was a bucket list experience for any sports fan and I know Tony and Will, Leah and Ted from our front office loved the experience.
The first race of the season is always exciting, anxious and extremely busy, and that was the case at Pomona. There are a lot of last-minute finishes to get things looking all new and spiffy for our fans, sponsors and guests. Once completed, it looked fantastic. I have no problem saying we have the best looking compound in the NHRA pits. The Eide awnings and TKO Graphix wrapped trailers and SD Enterprises painted cars all flow very well. We’re very proud to have a good looking camp.
Before Friday qualifying, we had the owner/driver meeting and it was exciting to hear people like Oakley founder Jim Jannard speak and deliver positive messages to our group. Jim always brings such great energy and ideas to our sport; it’s truly a pleasure anytime he’s around.
After the driver’s meeting, NHRA hosted the “Party in the Pits” and Antron and TJ attended that. Then we unveiled our beautiful Make-A-Wish Funny Car and did a photo shoot with TJ, Terry Chandler, Don, David Williams, the President of Make-A-Wish, and the entire team. It was so exciting to host the entire Make-A-Wish group to their first NHRA race. We can’t wait to welcome them back to Phoenix next weekend and Phoenix is the home of Make-A-Wish, so I know TJ and the boys are motivated for a strong performance for such a great cause all season long.
In typical NHRA fashion, we attracted a little bit of rain, but thankfully it was on Thursday and Mother Nature cooperated for the rest of the weekend. It wasn’t sunny and 80, but the cooler temps brought on record-setting conditions all weekend long. The Funny Car national record was reset by John Force and we saw two 3.71s in Top Fuel. That was quicker that we saw all last season long in 24 races. We may just see a 3.69 this year. That’s exciting! I hope you fans are excited for the rest of this Mello Yello season as I am.
We had a bit of carnage on Friday as Ron Capps’ NAPA Auto Parts Dodge exploded in the lights on Ron’s second pass. It was spectacular and most-important, Ron walked away unscathed. NHRA and the Safety Safari do everything they can to keep our teams and drivers safe and sound, and we are so thankful for that.
There’s a saying in the media, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Thankfully Ron didn’t bleed, but his boomer sure did lead. KABC in Los Angeles came to the track Friday night and led its 11 p.m. newscast with Ron. The next morning, Good Morning America aired it. We heard it aired on NBC’s Nightline. The Ellen Show called us. And Ron was on Fox & Friends Monday morning at 8:20 a.m. ET. That’s 5:20 a.m. PT in San Diego where Ron did the interview from. As another saying goes, “all press is good press.” And I guess that’s true to a point.
Race day didn’t go as we had hoped for in the Team DSR camp. Momma said they’ll be days like this. Haha. Spencer made the semis in the bright red Battery Extender car and Matt was runner-up in Funny Car in the sharp new Mopar Express Lane colors. The Army and Matco teams are testing in Las Vegas today and Tony is driving both cars. Antron drove both in a December test session, so I guess Tony owed him. Haha
We have to give it up to John Force. Jimmy Prock and John are on fire right now. They are just tearing up the competition and that only motivates our teams and shop to work harder and dig deeper to catch up and get back to our winning and championship ways. I know we’ll be back in the winner’s circle real soon and we can’t wait to hold another Wally.
It was fun to see a few old DSR friends Whit Bazemore and Cory Mac at the track last weekend too. Whit is working on a book about racing legend Paul Candies who passed away last year and Cory lives in So Cal. Once part of the DSR family, always part of our family. Many thanks to Whit and Cory for visiting.
We flew home Sunday night after the race. Antron and Matt went to San Antonio for Matco Tools Expo. I know they have a blast spending a few days with the Matco distributors and field and are living it up on the Riverwalk. Matco is a longtime supporter of DSR dating back to the late 90s and we appreciate the backing the distributors and customers give to Antron and the DSR teams.
That’s about it for now. I’m back in school mode until Phoenix next weekend. Have a great week and I’ll check back in after the race at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
Hello again NHRA fans. I hope all is well and you had a fun and safe Super Bowl weekend. My Super Bowl Sunday was pretty low key as I watched the game with my mom, Don and the dogs in Florida. The game was pretty boring and I honestly paid more attention to the commercials. My favorite was the Budweiser spot with the golden retriever and the horses. The halftime show was fun and other than the game it was a good four hours of television.
I always get excited for the Super Bowl because it usually means in just a few more days we’re starting the NHRA season at Pomona, Calif. It’s Tuesday and in three days at 1 p.m. (PT) we’ll kick of nitro qualifying for the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello season. The weather forecast looks great with temps in the 60s and 70s and we’re excited about the new three-day format with two qualifying laps on Friday at Pomona.
I’m going to head West a little early to hang with my friends Alex and Bobby in Southern California. We may go to Disneyland, but I’m not quite sure yet, but one thing I’m sure of is that it will be fun as they’re a hoot.
All our teams have headed West for the season-opening Circle K Winternationals. The U.S. Army Top Fuel team was the last team to leave the shop this morning around 6 a.m. Most of the teams left a bit early to try and avoid any weather. TJ’s guys left Saturday and they’ll test in Las Vegas today. Our hospitality team also left on Saturday and our new 53-foot merchandise trailer hit the road on Sunday morning. We’re excited to offer a much larger inventory of trackside merchandise for the fans to choose from. If you stop by and see Kirk, tell him Megan sent you for the NHRA blog discount. LOL
The Midwest and Indy is bracing for another brutal snow storm as weather forecasters are predicting another 5-10” of snow. It’s been a rough winter for our NHRA family in Indy. I spoke to Mike Green, the U.S. Army Top Fuel crew chief, and he’s lived in Indy for 20 years and said it’s far and away the worst winter he’s experienced. Fingers crossed for on-time departures and safe flights to Pomona.
Our drivers will keep busy this weekend at Pomona, that’s for sure. There are press conferences on Wednesday and Friday at the track. On Friday morning, there’s the annual season-kickoff owners/drivers meeting, and then we’ll finally get to racing on Friday afternoon and I can’t wait.
If you’re at Pomona, please stop by and say hello and lets have a great, safe and action-packed 2014 season of NHRA racing. Have a great week and we’ll check back in after the Winternationals.
Hello again everyone and greetings from a glacial-like Brownsburg/Indianapolis. Yep, I’m blogging from the DSR shop today and I’m excited to spend a few days with our front office and DSR teams. When I drove to the shop this morning, the wind chills were in the minus temperatures. Brrr. We’re not in Florida anymore, Toto. LOL
Thankfully, it’s nice and cozy inside as we’re just two weeks away from the start of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season. Just two weeks! That’s exciting. We hope those 70 and 80-degree warm temperatures continue in So Cal for the next two plus weeks, fingers crossed.
After five days of testing in Jupiter, Fla., our teams are making their final preparations for the Circle K Winternationals. Most of the teams will leave the shop on Feb. 4 and head west on I-70. Tommy Johnson, Jr. and the Make-A-Wish Funny Car team will leave a little bit earlier, next Saturday, and test on Feb. 3 and possibly Feb. 4 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hey, what a better place for the Make-A-Wish team to watch the Super Bowl than Las Vegas. Plus, it’ll be much warmer there than at the game in New Jersey.
If you’re looking for something fun to do before the Winternationals, my brother, Tony, will drop the first puck at the LA Kings/Columbus Blue Jackets game at Staples Center on Feb. 6. The game starts at 7:30 and Tony will sign autographs in between periods. The Kings and NHRA have partnered in the past and there’s a lot of crossover between NHRA racing and going to an NHL game. They’re both so visceral that the experience is so much better live and in person. The Kings have an awesome game going on tomorrow on Jan. 25. They will take on the Anaheim Ducks at Dodgers Stadium in an outdoor hockey game. I can guarantee one thing, if I lived in So Cal, I’d be there because attending a hockey game is so much fun and that it will be much warmer than on Jan. 1 at “The Big House” in Michigan for the Winter Classic. Now that was cold! I hope they can keep the ice cool when it’s 70 degrees outside.
We’re so excited about our partnership with Terry Chandler and the Make-A-Wish organization. Make-A-Wish is a fantastic foundation and if you’ve seen any of their pieces on ESPN’s Sports Center, then you’ve seen how they make so many dreams a reality for thousands of children. We’re hoping to bring smiles to faces at the youth in each of the 21 NHRA race markets this season. We announced the Make-A-Wish partnership during testing and got our first painted body back from SD Enterprise this Wednesday. Greg Ozubko designed the beautiful car and we’re excited to see it hit the track at Pomona on Feb. 7. Here’s the first photo of the Make-A-Wish Charger released to the public. I feel like a paparazzi. Haha.
We had a pretty successful test session for our Team DSR. The great thing is that our teams were testing, not trying to run hero numbers. Our dragsters are adapting to a new clutch program and its showing terrific promise. Antron and the Matco Tools team produced some fantastic numbers and I know all three DSR teams will be a factor this season and they’re very motivated to finish 1-2-3 again as we did in 2012. At Pomona, you’ll notice that all three DSR dragsters have the same basic layout with the Army, Matco and Battery Extender cars. They look beautiful and it’s neat to see the unified look.
The DSR floppers also debuted new colors at testing. The NAPA Auto Parts Dodge has some subtle changes, but we have new looks for Jack and the Valvoline MaxLife Dodge and the Matt’s Mopar Express Lane and Rocky Boots Chargers. The matte black look on the Rocky Funny Car is striking and mean. I can’t wait to see it back on the track at Houston in late April. Our Funny Cars ran pretty well as Ron was the quickest of testing at 4.003 and Matt was the fastest at just under 322 mph.
Here’s a link to the DSR Facebook page if you want to check out some of the Auto Imagery photos from testing at PBIR: https://www.facebook.com/shoeracing. You can also access video clips from testing on my Instagram page at @MeganFessSchu.
The highlight of testing for me was a definite bucket list item and I feel very fortunate and thankful to Don and the Battery Extender team. They let me warm the Battery Extender dragster on Saturday afternoon. Spencer was a great mentor and told me everything to do. I want to thank Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler and the entire team for the opportunity. It’s neat for me to be surrounded by a group that helps mentor me on both the racing and business side as I finish school and move into a daily role with DSR later this year.
I flew to DSR from Florida yesterday and we had a meeting with our longtime friends and partner Riley Children’s Foundation. Riley is the DSR house charity and our partner for our annual Open House before the U.S. Nationals. This ’14 DSR Open House will take place on Aug. 29. We’re hoping to announce something even more exciting with Riley this year and started those initial talks yesterday.
This afternoon, I’m heading to Chicago for the weekend to help celebrate my friend Leah’s birthday. It’s always fun to go home to the Windy City and Wintertime in Chicago gives me a good excuse to break out my winter clothes and ear muffs, gloves and scarfs. Haha.
That’s about it for now. Sorry for being so wordy and thanks for reading. Have a great weekend and stay warm for many of you out there. We’ll check back in again soon.
Hello again. Happy New Year! It’s 2014 and that means the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is right around the corner. We’ll be at Pomona for the season-opening Circle K Winternationals in just four weeks. In fact, our teams will leave for testing in South Florida this Sunday on Jan. 12. Yep, preseason testing is here and I can’t wait to sniff some nitro for the first time this year.
I hope you all had a great, fun and safe holiday season and that Santa treated you well. I spent my holiday break from school with mom and Don in Stuart, Fla. and had enjoyed the time away from school with family and friends. It’s back to reality this week as school began on Jan. 6, so I’m back to being a student, while toiling in some DSR business.
I spent much of the holiday season working with Don and Terry Chandler – Johnny Gray’s sister – finalizing the details with our charity partner for Tommy Johnson’s team and we’re very excited to announce the details very soon. We got approval on all the art elements yesterday, so it will be a busy month at the shop to have everything looking pretty for the Winternationals. I wish I could tell you more because it’s very exciting!
We will have two painted bodies from SD Enterprises, two trailers wrapped by TKO Graphix, a firesuit from Impact, TJ’s helmet painted by Indocil Art, crew shirts from Advertising Edge, and team apparel from Oakley all ready for Pomona 1. Whew! I’m worn out just thinking about all the work.
Speaking of the Winternationals, we’d like to welcome the new title rights sponsor – Circle K – to the sport. It’s always exciting to see a new company get involved in our sport and who hasn’t stopped in a Circle K store when filling up with gas. A full tank of gas and a Mello Yello or Dasani water to fuel your trip to the NHRA races. That’s a winning plan!
It’s been an interesting week at DSR. Much of Indiana and the Midwest got hammered with snow on Sunday. I’m sure glad I was in Florida when I saw the text message photos from my friends at DSR. Mother Nature dumped buckets of snow on poor Indy. They got more than 13” of snow in some areas and then the dreaded Polar Vortex dropped temperatures into the Arctic-like negatives with wind chills of -40 on Monday. Who could have imaged -40 in Indy and that it would have been warmer in Alaska. The shop was closed the first two days of this week before reopening yesterday. I’m told the roads are still very sketchy and a typical 15 minute commute could take up to 45 minutes. I’m just glad everyone in the NHRA community stayed warm and safe. Thankfully warmer temps and some rain this weekend should help melt much of the snow.
The guys at the shop are buzzing like busy bees in the spring time. The fab shop is getting two Charger Funny Car bodies ready for Matt Hagan and TJ’s teams. The machine shop is on the go cranking out connecting rods and fly wheels and all sorts of parts we make in-house at DSR. TKO Graphix is wrapping trailers. Our vinyl department is decaling race cars and tow vehicles and golf carts and trailers. In fact, Matt Hagan’s 2014 Mopar paint scheme will arrive at the shop this afternoon just in time to get decaled for photos at testing.
The trucks will roll south this Sunday for Palm Beach International Raceway to test from Tuesday through Saturday. Friday and Saturday (Jan. 17-18) are open to the public as part of the PRO Winter Warm-up, so we hope to see many of you NHRA fans in South Florida this weekend. Come get your dose of nitro to hold you over for a few months before our March return to the Sunshine State for the Gatornationals.
That’s it for now. Stay warm and safe and may your favorite NFL team win this weekend. I’m certainly not going to play favorites. Well, maybe I’ll pull for the Colts since they’re our local Indy team. We’ll see if “Luck” is on their side again this weekend.