LETTER from the EDITOR
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Nate Van Wagnen Editor-in-Chief 440.986.1480 nate @ dragillustrated . com
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My , how times have changed . When I was really getting into drag racing in the mid-to-late 2000s , the megateams – John Force Racing , Don Schumacher Racing , and Kalitta Motorsports – were dominating the NHRA nitro classes . John Force and Tony Schumacher were deep into their reign over Funny Car and Top Fuel , respectively , and their teammates often won when they didn ’ t .
Over the last few years , we ’ ve seen that dynamic change . Steve Torrence , our cover star this month , proved wrong the theory that independent , single-car teams couldn ’ t be seriously competitive on a long-term , consistent basis . With crew chiefs Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana and a tight-knit team , Torrence won four consecutive NHRA Top Fuel world championships and a slew of races along the way .
Torrence is hesitant to say it , and others might disagree , but the “ Capco Boys ” started a movement . Over the past couple seasons , we ’ ve seen several nitro teams find success without the help of teammates . Drivers like Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley have had solid one-car operations for some time now , while former DSR drivers Antron Brown and Ron Capps launched their own teams over the offseason to join the growing independent contingent .
In fact , of the 16 NHRA Camping World Series national events that were contested as of this printing , 11 Top Fuel victories went to independent drivers – two to Ashley , four to Salinas , two to Brown , and one each to Tripp Tatum , Schumacher , and Torrence . Independent Funny Car drivers won six races – Capps and Bob Tasca III both won three . If you include the newly formed Tony Stewart Racing
Nate Van Wagnen Editor-in-Chief
( TSR ) Nitro operation , which fields Leah Pruett ’ s Top Fuel dragster and Matt Hagan ’ s Funny Car , add one win for Pruett and two for Hagan . Since they ’ re teammates racing in separate categories , I ’ d say it makes sense to include them in the single-car conversation .
When it was announced in late July that Don Schumacher sold a majority stake in Tony Schumacher ’ s Top Fuel team – his last remaining nitro team – to team sponsors Joe and Cathi Maynard , alarm bells went off for longtime fans of the sport . But , as Torrence and Schumacher himself point out in their interviews in this issue , it ’ s a good thing that the weight of nitro racing is being spread out more evenly . Plus , most of these new team owners are younger folks who can help carry the sport of nitro racing into the future .
The state of nitro racing is a fascinating topic , one that we ’ ll cover extensively in this issue with the help of two people who play a significant role in that space .
But this issue isn ’ t just about nitromethane . We ’ ve also got Pro Stock , Pro Mod , Top Alcohol , sportsman racing , and many more categories covered in this State of Drag Issue . From a conversation with racer / track owners to a photo feature on the largest single-day event in drag racing , we ’ re taking a look at the highs and lows concerning drag racing across its many forms .
As always , we couldn ’ t fit everything into this issue . Be sure to check out DragIllustrated . com , where our team tackles a wide range of topics and cover dozens of events throughout the year . We ’ ll also have much more on the state of the sport in our next issue , the 30 Under 30 Issue , where we highlight drag racing ’ s rising young stars . DI
Feel free to email me at nate @ dragillustrated . com and follow me at facebook . com / nitronate1320 and nitronate1320 on Instagram and Twitter .
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8 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 178