The road to 300 video
300th Mello Yello titles for DSR
Don Schumacher overwhelmed by remarkable milestone
Don Schumacher Racing entered 2017 with 293 NHRA event titles and it seemed inevitable to happen sometime this year in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
But not even the most optimistic at DSR expected it to happen in the fourth race of the 24-event Mello Yello Series season.
That’s what happened Sunday in Las Vegas, when Tommy Johnson Jr. and Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T team won its first Funny Car title of the year for DSR’s 299th that was followed by an all-DSR final in which three-time and reigning Top Fuel champion Antron Brown and the Matco Tool team beat
teammate Tony Schumacher’s U.S. Army team for No. 300.
The 68th double-up of nitro titles by DSR at the same race since 2003 was also the third time in four NHRA races this year when DSR won both Top Fuel and Funny Car titles.
Coincidentally, the same teams earned DSR its 199th and 200th wins; Johnny Gray was in what is now the Make-A-Wish Funny Car sponsored by his sister, Terry Chandler, and Brown was at the wheel of the Matco dragster.
The first win by DSR was when team owner Don Schumacher drove and owned a Funny Car in 1970 and the joy has not diminished after 299 more.
“I never imagined I’d win my first Wally let alone 300,” he said during a joyful celebration in the winner’s circle with Johnson and Brown.
“It’s not because of Don Schumacher, it’s because we have the best drivers and crew chiefs in the business and winning contributions from everyone at DSR from the fabrication and machine shops to our management, hospitality, marketing, public relations and social media teams.”
DSR leaves Las Vegas with the top three spots in Top Fuel but a switch was made at the top with eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher passing teammate Leah Pritchett with Brown in third. Each of the DSR drivers have won at least one title this year.
The organization’s first NHRA title came at the 1970 U.S. Nationals when he beat Leroy Goldstein for the Funny Car trophy. Schumacher was a Funny Car pioneer and safety innovative, and has shown a talent for pairing the right driver with the right crew chief.
He left drag racing in 1974 to focus on his family’s Schumacher Electric Corp., which has become the world leader in the manufacturer of battery chargers. He returned in 1997 when son Tony decided to pursue a career in professional drag racing and that has produced eight world championships and nearly every Top Fuel record.
Schumacher shared some thoughts after Johnson and Brown produced wins No. 299 and 300:
“A lot of years, a lot of things, have gone past all of us.
“We fight our battles. We try to come out here and do the best we can, for not only our sponsors and teams, but also for the sport. And No. 1, really, are the fans. Without the fans, none of us would be here. So we have to thank them.
“I would never have been able to do it without Schumacher Electric support. We have 2,000 employees there and another 150 with the race team. …
“I just keep chasing after John Force and Alan Johnson and Connie Kalitta and the people who have really taken this sport (forward); Joe Amato, Don Garlits, Kenny Bernstein . . . It just goes on and on. I’m just kind of following after those guys and trying to emulate what they did out here.
“I’m blessed with the people I have around me, to say the least. We’ve accomplished some incredible things, nothing that I imagined I’d ever do. I never imagined winning Indy in 1970, no less my 300th NHRA Wally.
“It’s been an incredible ride. …
“(This sports has) “helped me become a businessman. It helped me learn how to manage people. And hopefully it’s helped me learn how to handle people – I make mistakes all the time. I get with my people, and I’m sure I say things they wish I hadn’t have said. And I push them in directions that I probably didn’t want to. We’ve accomplished what we’ve accomplished because of them, not because of me. I’m blessed to be able to ride along with this thing. At 72 years old, I can only be thrilled. …
Don Schumacher has jousted with the sanctioning body on several occasions and with fellow influential team owner John Force. They’ve had heated words with and about each other, and Don Schumacher even has received an unsolicited kiss from Force. They swap personnel and grouse about it.
“I love the people. I love everybody who’s out here. I’d just as soon roll onto the starting line and fight with John Force and beat him every time we pull up to the starting line. But I love him. I love every competitor out here.
“It’s an incredible sport. “It creates a family out here. There isn’t another business that you can feel like they’re family even though they’re competitors.
“Back in the ’60s and ’70s, I raced the NHRA races to get notoriety and get recognized. Today, this is the only place to race. If you’re competing, this is where you have to compete. This is the pinnacle of drag racing, and to come out here and accomplish things, you’re doing the best you can possibly do.”
– 300 –
The Mello Yello Series is off for two weeks
before returning for the NHRA SpringNationals
on April 21-23 at Houston.
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