This Week in Ford Racing: NHRA Edition
Robert Hight, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car, enjoys statistics as much as the next racer. Now he's pushing for his place in history by claiming the 200th NHRA Funny Car win for Ford Racing. After winning the 200th for the John Force Racing Team, he wants to make it a “double whammy” to wrap up two historic wins in one racing season.
THE 200TH WIN FOR THE FORD FUNNY CAR PROGRAM IS A PRETTY BIG DEAL. IT WOULD PUT YOU AT THE TOP OF THE LIST AMONG FORD WINNERS. I KNOW YOU TALK ABOUT A LOT OF STATS, BUT WHERE DOES THIS FALL WITHIN THE THINGS YOU WOULD WANT TO SAY YOU’VE DONE?
Robert Hight, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang: “Well, to me it would be an honor to get Ford’s 200th Funny Car win. I got John Force’s 200th win just a couple races ago, so to get Ford’s at the same time, in the same year, being on a list with the greats of all time and the people I’ve grown up following in drag racing, Raymond Beadle and Kenny Bernstein and, you know, all the guys before me. Mark Oswald was one of them, and just to be on a list with those people and obviously, my boss John Force, that would be huge. So we definitely know the way the Fords are running this year, it’s gonna happen. And I can’t think of a better way to have it happen than in the next race in Chicago, which is very close to a lot of the Ford people, and hopefully, some of them will be there to enjoy it.”
YOU TALKED ABOUT WINNING FORCE RACING’S 200TH WIN. DID YOU EVER LET THAT SINK IN? YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS SO IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO LET EVERYTHING AFFECT YOU IN SOME WAY, BUT DID YOU INTERNALIZE THAT AND THINK ‘WOW I JUST WON THE 200TH’ OR HAVE YOU EVEN HAD TIME FOR THAT TO HAPPEN?
“Yes. I’m a big fan of drag racing and the history of it and yes, I do like stats. But I think the time to really, really enjoy it and cherish all that is at the end of the season. It is so tough to win right now and we’re so focused on winning (an NHRA Full Throttle Series) championship. You win a race and you have to get right back to work and make sure you don’t fall off for the next race. So there’s not a lot of time to enjoy what we’ve accomplished, but at the end of the year, I guarantee we’ll be looking back and it’ll be quite a celebration.”
IF YOU HAD TO ARM WRESTLE FOR THE 200th WIN, BETWEEN YOU, FORCE, TIM WILKERSON, DAN WILKERSON, MIKE NEFF AND BOB TASCA III, WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD WIN? “I think it’d be me. I want to win more than anybody else. No matter what win it is, I’m up for the challenge.”
As Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car driver Bob Tasca III prepares for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago, Ill., he’s reminded of past races at this very track. Not only has the track been the site of monumental moments in Tasca’s career, it could be the site of a crowning achievement in Ford Racing history if he brings home Ford Racing’s 200th NHRA Funny Car victory.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT CHICAGO AND THE CHICAGO BULLS?
“Michael Jordan. Growing up as a kid he was the epitome of an athlete, winning championships in a dominating fashion. I think he was the person, as a kid growing up, he was the guy. His determination, work ethic, attitude, all the qualities that really symbolize a champion, Jordan had. Truthfully, and I’ve made the analogy many times, I think John Force is clearly the Michael Jordan, the Babe Ruth, the Wayne Gretzky. John is clearly the Elvis of our sport. He’s the guy that symbolizes drag racing as Michael Jordan symbolized basketball.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM CHICAGO?
“Last year it was the first place we put in the complete Ford powertrain, so that was a pretty cool memory. Then we tested there in Chicago, then went into Englishtown and won. That was certainly a big moment, hitting the throttle for the first time with the complete Ford setup. All in all what I remember most about Chicago is it’s a premier facility, one of the best premier facilities in the country. So as a racer I know I look forward to going to Chicago. You like to race on the big platform. Obviously, it’s one of the biggest markets in the country, one of the biggest facilities in the country, very different being it has the stadium-type seating. Chicago fans are awesome and the place is full of energy. I know a lot of people look forward to the race. On a multitude of levels, it’s a place you just love racing at.”
“Depending on the weather, it can be really hot or it can have a lot of cloud cover. And that Friday night session has generated some of the fastest times of the year when the conditions get really good. Night qualifying in Chicago under the lights with the temperatures in check, you’re going to see some really fast times. I know it’s something I’m looking forward to. It’s an area we’ve been working real hard on. In Bristol, we really started to show the time and effort we put into some big run set-ups and Chicago under the lights, there’s no bigger place than Chicago—it’s an all concrete track. I think it’ll be an exciting qualifier and then Sunday when you’re running the afternoon and all of your data is at night, that’s your only challenge with night qualifying sessions. It can be a little crazy, but that’s racing.”
MIKE NEFF WON FORD FUNNY CAR’S 199TH WIN, SO NOW WE’RE ON THE RACE TO 200.
“That’s pretty neat. I mean listen, a win is a win, but when it’s the 200th win for Ford Racing, I guess you could say a win isn’t just a win. It’s certainly a big-time deal. It’s an amazing accomplishment. I’ve played a small role adding a few to that number, but it’d be great to add the 200th.”
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TO GET THAT 200TH WIN?
“It would mean a lot from a historic standpoint. Again, a win is a win. Certainly, we go to win every race we enter. It would mean a lot. Clearly, 200 is a big mark, but if my grandfather (Bob Tasca Sr.) were here he wouldn’t spend much time celebrating. He’d be worried about getting the next 200, so I think that’s the mindset you’ve got to have. You can look back and reflect, but at the end of the day the sport of racing is about looking forward to the next win. I’d love to get 200. I’d love to get 201 too. So it’ll be an exciting moment for sure, but these Ford teams are looking down the road for a championship.”