Jack Beckman Is Latest to Lose NHRA Funny Car Ride at Downsized Don Schumacher Racing
Photo credit: Marc Gewertz / National Dragster 2019
Don Schumacher Racing won all 11 Funny Car trophies last season to bring the number of NHRA team winners to 358. However, two drivers who helped make this no longer possible are no longer with the organization.
Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr., who took six wins for DSR last year, have jobs outside of the industry and don't expect to return anytime soon.
Tony Schumacher, the most successful driver in the Top Fuel class with eight championships and 85 victories, will be out again for the time being, but hopes that he will find the right solution with a marketing partner.
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هل لديك الجرأة على المقارنة // أساسي. مسؤول. اقتصا
إن قيمة فول الصويا الأمريكي واضحة ، فالجودة العالية وكثافة العناصر الغذائية تقدم لشركتك فوائد كثيرة.
Jack Beckman's drag racing career had its ups and downs. That's what he deals with every day.
The former driver of Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car saw his sponsorship disappear at the end of the 2020 season of the Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series. At this point he had already planned to return to his mechanic job with an elevator company.
Credit: JERRY FOSS NHRA / NATIONAL DRAGSTER
Beckman, 54, told Autoweek: "After 22 years, I returned to Schindler Elevator on November 9th and will probably stay there."
His acquaintance with life back home in California and off the drag strip began just eight days after challenging eventual champ Matt Hagan through the last Sunday of the season. Beckman finished third in the 2020 NHRA Funny Car Championship, and his former DSR colleague, who finished second just ahead of him last season, is in the same boat.
52-year-old Tommy Johnson Jr. is building a backlog of handcrafted furniture to order and selling candles on Etsy as he tries to keep his business going selling racing parts and accessories to drivers whose budgets have shrunk dramatically.
Like Beckman, Johnson won three times last season. Both have experience in competition with Top Fuel and Funny Car.
“I've had some marketing people hiring sponsors, but no luck in that department. Right now it's tough to get out of there on this front, ”Johnson told Autoweek. “I find that everyone is in a waiting mode right now. In the meantime, I still run my parts and supply company for all of the racing teams. Wasn't as busy as usual due to fewer teams and uncertainty about the schedule for early 2021.
“I also built different things for people. I've always loved working wood and re-lit the flame during quarantine last summer. I actually have a lot of work to do and I'm starting to focus on things. I think I am trying to do whatever I can to make a living at this point. I still sell candles on Etsy, ”he said. "Being busy wasn't a problem. I just wish it would do what is my love and passion."
He said he would “keep looking for sponsorships and keep my ears open for any available trip. I have to keep a positive attitude, but also be realistic. I didn't give up in 2021, "said Johnson," but with the back of my mind I hope 2022 has better odds. Not ready to retire yet. "
Credit: JERRY FOSS NHRA / NATIONAL DRAGSTER
Beckman is the 2012 Funny Car Champion and has 33 victories in 69 finals (eighth best in class history).
Johnson, who has also driven a Top Fuel dragster in Australia, across Europe and in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, is the 12th of just 17 drivers who have won both Top Fuel and Funny Car. He has 22 NHRA wins in 56 finals.
Jeb Allen, who won the NHRA Top Fuel crown 40 years ago this fall, made a successful transition into the non-racing world, overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, and becoming a respected craftsman in the home construction industry. Tony Schumacher said, "I've seen Jeb Allen reinvent himself as one of the best builders in California."
But reinventing yourself as anything other than a dominant Top Fuel championship driver isn't on Tony Schumacher's radar screen. He seeks another iconic partnership with a company, as he did with the U.S. Army for 19 years, one that spawned five consecutive titles for a total of seven (to add to his 1999 crown). He said he continues to speak to potential employees but acknowledges that the process is "step by step". There will be something out there. You can't force it. "
Schumacher said "it feels good" to know that even other teams, drivers and owners, are helping him with potential leads.
"It's a good community," he said of the drag racing world. He doesn't lose sight of the fact that they like to race at their best and have no other stable yardstick against which to measure their own performance: “People come to see an epic race. You don't appear to see a weak race. They want to see two people in two good cars and give everything they have every time. You want to see a battle, man. "
The NHRA community, Schumacher said, is full of "people with good hearts and they are trying (to help him). People care. We will find good business along the way."
Until then, DSR will only use four racing cars, those from Antron Brown and Leah Pruett from Top Fuel and Hagan and Ron Capps from Funny Car. The organization is expected to officially announce its full roster of drivers and crew chiefs shortly before the PRO Winter Warm-up test session March 5-7 at the Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida near Jupiter.
The season kicks off March 11-14 with the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.
A lack of sponsorship has cost Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. rides at Don Schumacher Racing. If the big teams can't find competitive sponsorships for proven winners, what does that say about the health of the sport? Let us know what you think about the state of the NHRA as the season opener is only a month away.
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