Well, not sure where to start this blog as this off season seemed like it flew by and here we are getting ready for our opening race of the 2013 Mello Yello season in Pomona with the 53rd annual Winternationals.
It was a great end to our 2012 season at Pomona with the championship being decided by a mere 2 points and our NAPA Auto Parts team finishing runner up. While it was heartbreaking to lose it by such a close margin, we had a great season and to set the Pomona track record on our last qualifying run at the finals last year showed the tenacity that the NAPA team has. I have to tell you, after the way to I was able to click with our team, and especially our team leader Rahn Tobler and his right hand guy John Collins, it is going to be a great season for us.
When our season ended last November, my life didn't slow down much. Right after our NHRA awards banquet I flew to Hawaii for NAPA for our annual trip doing numerous appearances on different islands before ending up at the Maui Dragstrip for their big season ending race there, and every year it seems to get bigger and bigger. Not sure how many of you have been lucky enough to make a trip to Hawaii, but I can tell you that they love their NHRA drag racing over there, much more than any other motorsports for sure, so it is always a trip to the that we look forward to making.
This was the set of the 2013 commercial; it is supposed to be the "Ultimate NAPA racing shop" with NHRA and NASCAR cars and teams working in it.
We got back and had a few days at home and then headed down to New Orleans for the departure of the 7th annual "Cruisin with Capps" fan cruise and not sure how, but organizer Mary Mathis from Sun Travel seems to make every one of these cruises better than the last and trust me, that is a huge statement and can't wait for the 8th annual this next off season!
We spent our Christmas in Vegas at my brother Jon's house with all of our family and some friends and then brought in the New Year at home with friends and family, which was nice and low key.
With all of the travel during the season, I really have relished in spending as much time at home as possible and with Taylor and Caden growing so fast, time seems to squeeze through my fingers at a pace that can't keep up with.
With the offseason and representing a great sponsor like NAPA Auto Parts, photo shoots for all of the cool stuff you see in NAPA stores all over the world keep us very busy as well in the off season, and another thing you always hear me talking about with excitement is the yearly NAPA TV commercials. This year was no exception as this year’s commercial will involve myself with my teammate Martin Truex and Michael Waltrip and they will air both during the NASCAR races as well as our NHRA races on ESPN2, and just a hint ... keep an eye out for a very special surprise at the end of the commercials!
The time had finally come to get back in car for our pre-season testing in Florida and it was so nice to see all the guys and to look out front and see Rahn Tobler and John Collins in front of the racecar. We had a great test session. We brought a brand new DSR in house built car and made some great runs. The week was considered a private test and then Friday was open to the public and the fans came spilling into PBIR that day and they were rewarded with awesome side by side runs.
I was thrown a surprise right after our test by our friend Mike at the 49er station KNBR to not only go to the Super Bowl, but to actually work on the sidelines like I did after our Vegas win last year in Phoenix. I grabbed my friend and longtime 49er fan Tommy DeLago and we flew into New Orleans on that Sunday morning and we spent the game on the sidelines working with the parabolic microphone dishes to pick up the sound for the KNBR radio broadcast and while our team lost a close game, it was an experience I will never forget.
I am getting some stuff done around the house, no ...don't have any stories like my teammate Jack Beckman with forklift repair, filter replacement, concrete breaking, or ditch digging ... but Caden and I did get to do some work on my whipple-charged Roy Brizio street rod with our new Carlyle tools that showed up. They are a sponsor that will be a bigger part of our race team in a lot of ways and after we won the Vegas race with our Carlyle Tools paint scheme, they will be welcomed back.
For now though, I am headed up the street for some golf lessons for the kids. I figure if I can get them on the golf course, it is that much more time to spend with them. See you guys in Pomona!
This is what we all dream about... we are going to Pomona, our last race of the season just 4 points behind my teammate and about 4 rounds ahead of Mike Neff with 8 runs to make. I mention those 4 points because our NAPA Auto Parts team will be trying to make up those 4 points in qualifying to see if maybe we can go into Sunday with less of a margin, perhaps maybe even leading when eliminations start.
Since I wrote my last blog, I was just getting ready to head up to Famoso Raceway for the big Hot Rod Reunion nostalgia race, and while this year I wasn’t driving Del Worsham’s Funny Car, I got to surprise Del by backing him from his burnout. It always looks easier when someone else is doing it, believe me.
Caden and I went to Vegas a day early for the race and had some "guy" time... here we are in front of our home in Vegas, the New York New York Hotel and Casino
I had to do quite a bit of media prior to the Vegas race, so I grabbed son Caden, who was out of school that week and we drove over to Vegas a day early, just the two of us. We got to New York New York Hotel and Casino, and since it was just him and I, we cruised around and got some pictures taken together then we hit the Houdini magic shop that they have there and he got to learn all kinds of cool tricks.
The race weekend was filled with all kinds of sponsor functions with NAPA. It was for sure the most NAPA employees, customers and NAPA Auto Care store owners that we have had at a race at one time.
While we didn’t qualify as well as we wanted to, and we actually lost a little more ground when qualifying was done, we knew that we could really climb back into the hunt with a win. That is exactly what Rahn Tobler, John Collins and our ever impressive NAPA team did on Sunday. After the 2nd round on Sunday, I had a pretty good feeling that we had our car back thanks to Tobler and all the hard work by our team.
Winning is always great, but to do it when the pressure was on, for us to step up and put some pressure on the other teams we are going to battle with for a championship was a great feeling at the end of the day.
We woke up Monday morning (although a little slow) and I flew to Phoenix and was a guest of the San Francisco 49ers football team for their Monday Night Football game. I took my good friend and huge 49er fan Tommy DeLago (Hagan’s crew chief) and it was a night to remember as Tommy and I were on the sidelines holding the parabolic microphones. I can’t thank the radio show producer Mike and the KNBR radio station enough... a dream come true!
I then flew back to Vegas to spend some time at the SEMA show. We had a huge crowd on opening day at the Advertising Edge booth, they make our DSR uniforms and are a great partner for our organization.
I left Vegas for a day at home and then flew out to Hershey, Pa., for the annual marketing conference that NAPA puts on. This year it was a huge group once again and I was proud to join them that night.
I flew back home in time to go to a special invite party at our friend Scott Jacobs’ house in Rancho Santa Fe. If you will remember, I tweeted and posted on our fan Facebook earlier this season about watching Scott on the opening episode of the hit TV show "The Secret Millionaire" as he and his daughter were on that show.
He is an extremely talented artist. You can see for yourself if you check out his website (http://scottjacobsstudio.com/). He had Gary Puckett from the band Gary Puckett and the Union Gap singing at this awesome party and while they were a little ahead of my time, it reminded how many hits he had. Holy smokes... when he sang "Young Girl" everyone seemed to know the words, and he was a great guy on top of that.
I had to rush home from there because Dave Despain was sending a crew to my house to be on the SPEED channel show "Wind Tunnel" that is on Sunday evenings to talk about the Pomona race. It is always an honor to represent our sport on such a great show.
Well... this week is one of the biggest weeks of our racing lives as we have a shot at making history with our NAPA racing team, and I look forward to guiding Rahn Tobler’s missile down the track the best I can. My confidence in our team helps give me that confidence, so I can’t wait!
I also want to give you all a heads up… if you’re in Hawaii the week after our season, once again I am flying to Hawaii for several NAPA appearances, and it kicks off with an indoor karting event at Podium Raceway in Oahu (http://podiumraceway.com/) as soon as I land there on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
You can go there from now until that night and try your best to qualify to be able to race me, then after a few appearances on other islands (check my Twitter @NapaRonCapps for updates on where I will be), I will then be at Maui Raceway Park (http://www.mrp.org/) on Saturday, Nov. 17, for the season finals race presented by NAPA and United Auto Parts.
I know, I know... I have such a rough job, right? Having to go to Hawaii for work... I have to tell you, representing NAPA, whether it is on the track or any of the numerous appearances we do, it is always a good time.
I have to run, loading my bus up to make the short drive up to Pomona for all the pre-race media we have for this final race of the season. Keep your fingers crossed and hopefully my next blog will include winner’s circle pictures!
In Brainerd, I was goofing around during qualifying and the ESPN camera guy gave me his camera and this photo ended up in USA Today paper as well.
To say it has been a crazy last couple of months would be the understatement of the year for me. When I say crazy, I mean that in the greatest way possible.
I started this blog after Charlotte, then tried to finish it after Dallas, then figured I would wait until right before our St Louis race and well....you get the idea. It has been a very, very busy last few weeks as of course the U.S. Nationals was rainy and then postponed for a week and we already had 4 races in a row to start our "playoffs" in the Countdown to the Championship.
We were striving as a team to get to the number one spot for more reasons than just the points that came with being number 1 in the "regular season". After winning the race up in Brainerd and recovering from a pretty wild winners circle party, Rahn Tobler and our NAPA AUTO PARTS team lost in the opening round in Indy and then we could solely concentrate on the start of the Countdown in Charlotte only a few days away from there.
While we didn't qualify as good as we have been, we did run very well on Saturday’s first session and we then made 4 great runs to get the win in a very long Sunday that didn't get started until late afternoon because of the rain.
We then went straight to Dallas for race #2 of the Countdown and also the $100,000 Traxxas Shootout that was part of the original US Nationals race before it was pushed to Dallas because of the weather in Indianapolis.
We got by Courtney Force in the first round and then had a tough matchup with our teammate Johnny Gray and then of course we lost a close race to John Force in the final round of the Shootout.
We were pretty bummed that we lost the chance at all that money, but we were very encouraged for our racecar and had good reason to as we went to the semifinals and kept adding the points.
We had a decent weekend in St Louis during qualifying as Rahn and our NAPA team battled back on Friday night to a good run, but being one of the first pairs out on the good Friday night session made us have to be a little more conservative. That is why I and other race teams stress how important it is to get down the track on the first session.
One thing that I have done with our Facebook fan page is to sort of make it like a real fan page should be.....while all of my tweets from my Twitter page (@NapaRonCapps) get posted directly to our Facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/RonCappsFC?ref=hl ), a couple of weeks ago I asked the fans to send me or post their favorite picture that they might have from one of our NHRA races with me or with our NAPA team and I wasn't really ready for the response that I got.
I say that in the best possible way I can say it, I was blown away by the amount of messages and photos that were sent and continue to be sent. I am still posting them, but my goal was to sort of give our wonderful NAPA racing fans a way to have everyone see what sort of experience they had with us and it still puts a big smile on my face.
I was on the road between Dallas and St. Louis races doing NAPA appearances and now I am home for a night, then off to Atlanta to NAPA HQ for a customer appreciation day and then straight to Pennsylvania for several NAPA events before starting our racing on Friday.
We get a couple of weeks off before our Vegas race and I will be attending the California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield on one of those weekends. I’m not driving this time, but will be there helping Del Worsham try to win the race with him driving his car. I can't wait.
We lost a little bit of ground to our DSR teammates in the Valvoline car and lead by only a couple of rounds with three races to go in the Countdown. I am looking forward to this coming weekend in Reading, PA., like no other race I have looked forward to in a long, long time, especially for our NAPA fans!
Talk to you soon!
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.