Mustang Funny Cars Look For An Edge In Offseason
DEARBORN, Mich. -- Every thousandth of a second matters in NHRA Mello Yello Series Drag Racing, where races are won or lost by a nose at the finish line or a blink at the starting line.
Winning is all about grabbing that edge; anything you can to put your team ahead of the game. That means testing, testing and more testing -- as much as the sanctioning body will allow.
Bob Tasca III and John Force Racing will test a variety of new things with Ford Racing in January at the Palm Beach PRO Winter Warm-up -- a pre-season scrimmage for the nitro categories that packs in more fans every year.
Early preparation is crucial to a team as innovative as John Force Racing, who has to give itself enough time to dream up, try out, build and install new elements for their Mustang Funny Cars at their Brownsburg, Ind., facility.
“This first test is important to us because there are a lot of things that we don’t know for sure if it’s going to work -- to kind of give us what direction we need to go in,” Mike Neff said. “The problem is, by waiting until January to try to test, with some of this stuff, it wouldn’t give us enough time to get enough stuff ready for the first race.”
Testing is an expensive proposition, said 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, but it brings back that value in round wins.
“We don’t want to just jump into the season and try to start the year with stuff untested,” John Force said.
“Off-season testing is very important because it gives us a chance to try some of the new things we’re developing here in-house, and get those parts and pieces and ideas out on the race track before we have to get out in competition, so we can continue to develop and try to produce quicker times and more consistent cars that we can take into Pomona and through the rest of the season,” said Ron Douglas, who led Courtney Force and her Traxxas Funny Car team to a win and rookie-of-the-year award. “The ultimate goal is to get these cars in the Winner’s Circle.”
The first session should give the teams direction on changes they’d like to make before the Winter Warm-up spotlight in January, where side-by-side runs simulate race-day conditions.
“It’s crazy just how popular the Winter Warm-up has gotten,” said Tasca, who has been trying out different tune-up combinations with his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car team since the late fall. “That January test session is great for us, because no driver wants to be out of the seat for two months at a time. Especially when you’re trying new things, you want as much seat time as you can get.”