Baytown: Gary Densham preview

Densham Tries To Build On Records As POWERade Tour Moves To Houston Auto Club Ford Seeks First Win in O'Reilly Spring Nationals HOUSTON, Texas (April 16-18) -- Gary Densham has paid a price for the success he has enjoyed in the NHRA...

Densham Tries To Build On Records As POWERade Tour Moves To Houston
Auto Club Ford Seeks First Win in O'Reilly Spring Nationals

HOUSTON, Texas (April 16-18) -- Gary Densham has paid a price for the success he has enjoyed in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, the 23-race circuit which returns this week to Houston Raceway Park for the 16th renewal of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals.

The former high school auto shop teacher almost lost a foot when the transmission in the Funny Car he was driving came apart during an event at Sacramento, Calif.

"I got to the hospital," he recalled. "One guy said they were going have to take my foot. Another said I'd never walk again. The third guy said, 'I can fix that.' I said, 'you've got the job.'"

     Then, eight years ago, he almost lost his life when the engine in his car exploded
during a pre-race warmup at Sonoma, Calif.  He was air-lifted out of the track by
Careflight   but was back in time to watch eliminations, albeit from the sidelines.

Nevertheless, the 57-year-old veteran still insists that a bad day drag racing is better than a good day doing almost anything else.

It's a message he underscores to the more than 60 student groups he addresses each year on behalf of the Automobile Club of Southern California, principal sponsor of the Ford Funny Car he drives for 12-time series champion John Force.

Densham is a throwback, a dinousaur, a man who has driven Funny Cars for as long as there have been Funny Cars.

Never has he driven them better, however, than he has since coming to John Force Racing ins 2001.

Although he always was competitive as the owner/driver of a series of Teacher's Pet Funny Cars he campaigned throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Densham didn't come into his own until he was paired with Crew Chief Jimmy Prock in one of the Force Racing Mustangs.

Eight times a national event runner-up as a privateer, Densham earned a breakthrough victory at Memphis, Tenn., in 2001, beating Force in the final round in his 245th NHRA event.

He's been a front-runner ever since. In fact, he rolls into Houston this week in third place in NHRA POWERade points behind Del Worsham and Force.

The HRP track record holder for both quarter mile time (4.755 seconds) and speed (325.69 miles per hour), Densham believes he can go quicker and faster this week although he'd gladly trade the performance records for a victory.

Densham's confidence is not without foundation. Except for last month's Mac Tools Gatornationals, an event contested on a new, unproven racing surface, Densham and the Auto Club Mustang have distinguished themselves at every stop on the circuit.

The Auto Club Ford was runner-up at the season-opening K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., the No.1 qualifier at the Checker/Schuck's/Kragen Nationals at Phoenix, Ariz., and the quickest during eliminations at the Summitracing.com Nationals two weeks ago at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"Anytime you have Jimmy Prock calling the shots, you've got a chance," Densham said. "He's a genius and the scary part is I think he's just coming into his own as a Funny Car Crew Chief."

- www.johnforceracing.com

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , John Force , Gary Densham