Watch the upcoming ESPN show in Gainesville as they are going to show some very cool video from inside our NAPA Funny Car and as I said this is the view we had from the old Dodge Charger
I know, I know... I have let time slip by since posting my last NHRA blog on here, and I am going to try and catch y’all up on what’s been happening in our world on and off the track and what I have coming up on the horizon.
Our off-season usually is filled with quite a bit on my itinerary every year and this last year was definitely no exception. We once again had our “Cruisin’ with Capps” fan cruise, and get this, this next cruise in December with be the 10th annual! This last cruise was cool because it left out of Long Beach and I got to take a small group of our cruise attendees to the NHRA Museum for a private tour as well as getting to take them over to the historic Pomona track. We just saw the itinerary for the 2015 cruise, and I know that everyone says this will be the best cruise yet with some pretty awesome ports of call. Stay tuned to my Twitter and Facebook as I will post info on the cruise and how to sign up, it is guaranteed to be a good time!
I had surgery during the off-season to repair a torn tricep, and I spent the following weeks healing and then going through some grueling rehab to be ready to drive in mid-January at our preseason test in Florida.
Rahn Tobler and our NAPA team worked especially hard during the off-season getting our new 2015 Dodge Charger Funny Car bodies ready for this season. I am still smiling after getting to drive this car. It is so much better for us to see out of; I think we are really going to prove this year that the Charger is the best body on the drag strip.
We started the season off in Pomona with a runner-up finish, and then in Phoenix we qualified well but lost in opening round on Sunday morning. We stayed to test along with several other teams on Monday in Phoenix and ran a great 3.98 at over 321 mph, and Rahn and the guys felt much more comfortable heading to our next race down in Gainesville, Florida. Hopefully you caught the new 2015 NAPA commercial that started airing during the Phoenix race. It is a little different than past commercials we have done, and I know our race fans are really, really going to dig it.
While on the little break in our NHRA schedule I, as usual, have been keeping plenty busy with NAPA appearances and events, and this coming weekend is always one of my favorite times of the year when I get to head up to Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield to attend the historic March Meet race.
Our 13th Annual Tour De Charity Saturday March 21st will sell out so sign up soon!
It will be great to have our leader, Don Schumacher, back at the track very soon.
You have heard me brag about this race, and if you still haven’t gotten to attend this race, you are truly missing one of the greatest drag racing events there is today. This year will be even more special for me as I was asked to be guest speaker at the 20th annual “Bakersfield Smokers” Reunion dinner on Friday night. There are a few tickets left (click here for info and to buy tickets) for this great night for the “Smokers,” and if you don’t know or realize just how important they are and the impact they had on our great sport of drag racing, go to that website and read the their history — it is pretty cool.
Our race schedule will get busier after the Gainesville race, and the NHRA teams will start to get into a rhythm as they will have less time at our DSR shop in Brownsburg and more time on the road and at the track. We are looking at getting some wins and climbing back to the top of the NHRA Mello Yello points and getting our hot rod back to the consistency that Tobler and our NAPA team are known for.
One more thing I have on the horizon that I know you guys want to know about is 13th annual NHRA Tour de Charity on Saturday, March 21 at Sonoma Raceway (click here for details and to register) and it is a fun filled day of racing, lunch, racing, hanging out, and did I mention racing? Haha... anyway for a little over a few hundred bucks, you get to race with some great NHRA stars and myself and it all goes to a great cause with the Speedway Children’s charities that we love to support.
Stay tuned to my social media, @NapaRonCapps on Twitter and Instagram and our Facebook fan page of course as well as I will keep you posted on any upcoming appearances and fun stuff you can join me for.
One more thing... please, PLEASE keep our leader Don Schumacher in your thoughts as he battles his health issues. He always has been inspirational and is now more than ever showing just how tough he is. We can’t wait to have him back at the track very soon.
Talk to you soon.
Well... it seems so long ago we chatted on here, yet it seems like just yesterday that we were gearing up for the Western Swing and now all of the sudden here we are two races into our 2014 Countdown to the Championship.
We left Dallas, and after we had our postponement in Charlotte on Sunday, we ended up running the remainder of the zMAX race in Dallas during qualifying on Saturday, and then here we are in St Louis for round #3 of our playoffs. We ended up going into the Countdown as the 3rd seed after winning the Epping race and then Brainerd again this year, and actually that is the 3rd year in a row that we have won the Brainerd race... hmmm... that is a lot of 3s.
The kids enjoying another moment of Dad asking them to sit still and look like they're having fun.
Anyway, again I am trying to backlog through my Twitter and Facebook stuff to remind me of what has been happening since then, and it reminds me how cool it really is to sort of have your life or career documented by what is on the ESPN shows and then of course all of the social media with Instagram pictures, the videos that I have put up on “Vine,” and then of course Facebook and Twitter that we find ourselves trying to let the fans into our lives on and, more important, off the track.
We did our usual RV trip once again this year back up towards where I grew up in San Luis Obispo and spent a week at two of our favorite places up there, Pismo Coast Park that is located right in the beach in Pismo Beach — yeah the same Pismo Beach from Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon fame— then a week up with our friends at the Paso Robles RV park called Wine Country’s RV.... Too much fun and not enough time, but a little is better than none at all I suppose, and I cherish the time I get with the family, especially with Taylor and Caden growing so fast.
Speaking of the Brainerd win, we had to wait until the Indy race to beat Force for the Brainerd Wally, and with that I decided that Wally deserved to be enjoyed by the fans back in Minnesota. So we sent him on a journey, and as we speak our Brainerd Wally is spending his days going from NAPA store to NAPA store in Minnesota, and you fans can follow him on my Facebook fan page as well as the special Facebook page called “Ron’s traveling Wally” (https://www.facebook.com/RonsTravellingWally), and he will eventually end up back up at the Brainerd track, where the owners are currently thinking of a final resting place for him for all of our fans to see him next year .
We stubbed our toe a little last weekend in Dallas after having a great race car in qualifying, and we lost a close race with Wilkerson when we dropped cylinder a couple of seconds into the run, which is what these Nitro engines do sometimes for no reason. We dropped a couple of positions in the points but plan on climbing right back up the ladder starting with this weekend’s race at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis.
I have to run, but I will try to stay up on my blog a little more often than I have lately, and if you’re in Hawaii, keep an eye on my posts as I will be hitting Honolulu on Friday, Oct. 17 for some appearances and Maui on Saturday, Oct. 18 as well as stopping by the dragstrip there that night once again, and then Kauai on Sunday the 19th of October for a few appearances on each island, so if you live there or are visiting come hang bruddah! Have to run, time to qualify here in St. Louis! Talk to you soon.
In Pomona. I think I dropped my keys here somewhere....
Well.... here we are a handful of races into the 2014 season already and things are going full speed all around us!
Last time we chatted I had just came back from representing the stars and stripes and NHRA in Sydney, Australia against some great racers in a new class Graham Cowin started that they call Aeroflow Outlaw Funny Cars (which is much like the NHRA Heritage Series Nostalgia Funny Cars) and it was a great time, especially seeing the huge NHRA following we have over there.
We came back from that trip and then went on our 8th annual "Cruisin with Capps" fan cruise for 7 days and then we were home through the holidays and had family come visit, which was really nice, especially with the kids as they are growing too fast for me to keep up.
We are doing those events again later this year. The Sydney trip will be just after our Pomona race again and our 9th annual fan cruise this year departs from sunny California in early December and will be a 7 day cruise down the coast to some great stops. Come join the fun if you dare, haha.
It's funny, my buddy Force used to repeat to me over and over about really trying to relish the time when the kids were younger with the travel and sponsor commitments that we have. He was so, SO right… again, it is strange to sit down and write a blog to sort of catch up everyone on what is going on with our NAPA team when I am constantly putting the minute by minute, day to day stuff out on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook constantly.
As far as our on-track news for our NAPA team, Rahn Tobler and our crew spent the winter getting some pretty cool in-house DSR parts ready for us to try and implement into our race car early in our season. I know that I haven't mentioned it very often, but the benefit of not just a multi-car team, but a multicast team with some of the most talented people in all positions is that when one of our teams is in need of a little help, there is plenty of help there in a split second.
This season was a great example of that with our Funny Car team with Tommy Johnson Jr. driving. Don Schumacher had asked that Tobler and his long time protégé John Collins help set that car up with a baseline tune-up like what we had run last season and so at the Pomona and Phoenix races Rahn and JC were making tune up decisions on our NAPA car, but also helping our teammates get that car up to speed.
It wasn't until Gainesville that Don made the decision to move our long time asst. crew chief JC over to TJ’s team as full time crew chief and allowed Tobler to bring a new assistant crew chief in Eric Lane to our team as his right hand guy and it showed right away as both our team and TJ's team qualified and had a good weekend.
One of our favorite races was next in Vegas, it has sort of turned into a home track (imagine that) with all of our friends and family that make it a destination event. Our team then followed up our Gatornationals with a great qualifying position in Vegas and made it to semifinals (two races in a row) and moved our NAPA team up from 9th to 4th in the points.
We had gone to our preseason test in Florida with the new clutch program that we ended last season with, something that Rahn felt very good about after testing. We felt like the progress we could make could make our car quicker, but also make it easier for our other DSR crew chiefs to make the switch with the data we would already have.
Well… while it may be something that we might put back in the bell housing later, it just wasn't showing Rahn that the different pressure plate configuration was consistent enough for him to have the confidence going to the starting line and making tune-up call in different track conditions.
When I first started driving for Tobler and this great group of talented crew members, consistency could have been his name on his NHRA hard card. Our team had made right around 50 consecutive runs without tire smoke… crazy, right? I think we went to 6 straight final rounds they said… crazy again, right? Talk about having a dream race car to drive… Well, the good news for our NAPA Auto Parts fans is that Tobler and our team have gone back to that clutch, same pressure plate (hat it is called sometimes) and flywheel, disc and floater combination that we had run before with all those races we won the last two years.
We also stayed in Vegas and he was able to run some other new DSR parts on the car, some new superchargers that our team had rebuilt and improved, put on our blower dyno back at the shop but not yet ran to find out how good and/or consistent they were.
Our test was probably the happiest I have seen Tobler on a Monday at a track looking at a RacePak graph on the computer. The car picked up in spots where he was looking to have it get quicker and the motor looked very happy, which puts a smile on my face for sure as a driver and team member.
You have to remember that all of this was done by our NAPA team of guys that never fail to blow me away when curveballs and more hard work is thrown at them... on top of the normal travel, hard work and mostly non-glamorous life a NHRA crew member lives.
So there you have it, I am on a plane (I know, hard to believe) and headed to a small town in Ohio for appearance for NAPA and then on to Charlotte for our annual 4-Wide race this weekend. We are saving a spot for the next Wally to arrive and hopefully it says zMAX on it.
We got to spend last Friday night watching my new NAPA team mate Chase Elliott and his Dale Jr. team get his first win in Nationwide and trust me, there will be many more to come from him.
I am so pumped about him joining our NAPA team. I have a great story about his dad Bill Elliott; I will save it for another time though. We have had a lot of fans asking about new NAPA TV commercials, and I can't wait to see what ideas they come up with for this year with Chase and I and our NAPAKnowHow.
Have to run, plane is about to touch down. Talk to you soon!
You know... I thought time flew by at a fast pace during our NHRA season? But it is really flying by in the off season as well. The last few weeks of our season always seem to go by so fast with all the pressure of the "Countdown to the Championship" and on top of that the fact that we have those races crammed together at the end of the season makes the time really fly by it seems.
Well, this year seemed like it was even more so with all the excitement with our NAPA team in a fight for a Championship once again and of course if you follow my Twitter @NAPARonCapps, Facebook and Instagram, you know that I keep plenty busy spreading the NAPAKnowHow all over.
We had our usual trip planned right after the season finale in Pomona to Hawaii for some NAPA appearances on a couple different islands, but this year we also had a trip planned that was put together by legendary Drag Racer Graeme Cowin in Sydney, Australia. It was a big event with several appearances followed up by a great event at the Sydney Drag Strip, which is a world class race track.
It was a smashing success as I was the lone representative in the USA vs. Australia/New Zealand and we made some great side by side 5.80 second runs at 240 mph and put on a great show for the fans at the Sydney Drag Strip. The nitro drag racing in Australia is very different nowadays it seems. There really isn't any Nitro Funny Car racing, and as far as the Top Fuel division there is only a handful of Top Fuel dragsters that run with the performance of our NHRA teams here in the states on a consistent basis. As we found out in the NHRA, if you don't have good side-by-side racing, the fans are going to lose interest.
I was blown away by the amount of NHRA fans there in Australia that pay very close attention to our sport here and was in shock at the amount of race fans that were lined up waiting for pictures and autographs when I arrived at the track the first day, and I haven't felt so proud to be there representing our great team owner Don Schumacher and all of his sponsors at DSR.
I also got to meet some new people with the auto parts company called REPCO that is a partner of NAPA. From what I saw, REPCO has the same great reputation for auto parts "down under" that NAPA has here in the United States.
It was a great trip and my wife Shelley and daughter Taylor got to join me on the trip. They made their first trip down a drag strip in a very cool three-seat dragster driven by Graham Elliott. They are still talking about it! We are already talking about expanding the event next year and we can't wait.
We got back home for a few days and then I got to fly out to Indianapolis to DSR headquarters for our annual photo shoot for the new 2014 NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car and while the racecar will look close to the 2013 NAPA scheme, there are some small, but very cool changes as you will see.
We are headed out on the 9th annual "Cruisin with Capps" fan cruise and we are so blessed to have the fans that we have in our sport, but even more proud to have our NAPA racing fans that feel the same passion and excitement that we have ourselves.
We are also getting the house ready for all the relatives that will come for Christmas and I am looking forward to spending New Years at home and really just having a little down time with family and close friends and then before you know it we will be in West Palm Beach for our pre-season testing and I know that Don Schumacher, Rahn Tobler and our NAPA team can't wait to get our racecar back up to the front where it belongs.
See you soon!