Bruce 'jumps' into vacant J&B Motorsports FC ride in Martin MARTIN, Mich. - Following the resignation of former team driver Paul Lee, the J&B Motorsports IHRA Torco Pro Nitro Funny Car team reached an eleventh hour agreement with Michigan local...
Bruce 'jumps' into vacant J&B Motorsports FC ride in Martin
MARTIN, Mich. - Following the resignation of former team driver Paul Lee, the J&B Motorsports IHRA Torco Pro Nitro Funny Car team reached an eleventh hour agreement with Michigan local Rob Bruce to drive during this past weekend's IHRA Torco Race Fuels Nationals at Knoll Gas Motorsports Park just outside of Grand Rapids, Mich. Despite limited experience, Team Owners Jeff and Bonnie McGaffic were impressed at how quickly the driver they dubbed 'Ricky Bobby' adapted to their 8,000 HP Nitro Funny Car this past weekend.
As of the Thursday prior to the event, the team was without a driver. Fellow Nitro Funny Car and Top Fuel racer Mitch King referred Bruce, from nearby Flint, Mich., to the McGaffic's.
"We tried to call several drivers to come in and drive for us this weekend," explained McGaffic. "None of the drivers we knew that would fit the car were available to drive the whole weekend. Mitch told us about this guy Rob Bruce who lived a few hours from the track and was a competent driver with an IHRA license and would fit the car. We called him on Friday and he dropped what he was doing and showed up at the track a few hours later. Needless to say, we were impressed with his zeal and commitment from the get-go."
"We missed the Friday session getting him fitted for the car," McGaffic continued. "While getting things ready to go for Saturday, he kept talking about wanting to go fast, so we nicknamed him "Ricky Bobby." He was a great guy and worked well with our team. We had a lot of fun with him."
In his first pass in a competitive Nitro Funny Car, Bruce rocketed to half track, running a 3.45 at 250 mph, which was the third quickest e.t. and second fastest mph. Low qualifier and eventual winner Mike Ashley's half track speed was only two mph faster during that session. The car started spinning the tires slightly further down track, prompting Bruce to lift. Despite not qualifying, the team was impressed with his driving prowess.
"The first pass out, he took it down the track straight as a string," cited McGaffic. "We feel we've fixed the issue that was causing us so many problems earlier in the year. On the first pass Saturday, it went 250 mph to half track. Mike Ashley, the No. 1 qualifier only went 252 mph, so it was on a heck of a pass. Just past half track it started to break the tires loose and he lifted. We didn't qualify, but we showed the car that took us to four finals last year is back."
"He really did a great job in the car," McGaffic continued. "I just failed to compensate in the clutch for the difference in the driver weight, or I think it would have made a real nice lap. I really have to thank him for jumping in at the last minute and driving for us. He's a heck of a driver, and given the opportunity, will do well in a Nitro Funny Car."