Beckman considers Gainesville his own personal Disneyland

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Don Schumacher Racing press release

Beckman's trip to Gatornationals features stint with Globetrotters, return to drag racing 'Disneyland'

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman

Photo by: NHRA

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (March 6, 2012) - Jack Beckham will visit his own Disneyland this week when he's in Central Florida for the March 8-11 NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals presented by NAPAFilters.com.

Before heading to Gainesville, Fla., for qualifying on Friday, Beckman will spend several hours Thursday at a Magic Kingdom but it won't be the one featuring a giant rodent with funny shoes and short pants.

Beckman will, however, see numerous images of drag racing's most famous rodent - as in "Swamp Rats" - when he attends inductions for 2012 class of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame at the Don Garlits Museum in Ocala, Fla., which is 40 miles south of the racetrack.

This year's group that will be hosted by Garlits, whose race car moniker was "Swamp Rat," features Bob Brandt, Big John Mazmanian, Don Moody, Ray Motes, Mike Kuhl, Carl Olson, "Fast" Ed Schartman and Bill Doner.

"Those guys are some of my drag racing heroes," Beckman says. "Going to the museum always is a highlight of racing at Gainesville."

It's a busy week for Beckman. He flew from his home in Norco, Calif., to Missouri on Monday for a Tuesday appearance for Valvoline at a Wal-mart in Joplin, Mo. From there, he heads to Gainesville to join Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan Wednesday night as participants at a Harlem Globetrotters game on the campus of the University of Florida.

"That should be fun, but I told them they better keep the ball away from me or I'll set the sport of basketball back a hundred years. They said they'll let me be a referee so I'll probably get a bucket of water dumped on my head.

"It'll be the first time I've seen the Globetrotters play since the 1970s when I got to watch Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon."

The Globetrotters game is part of the hoopla leading to one of the oldest and most prestigious events on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour.

But what is most important to Beckman is racing and getting his first national event title of the year and the 13th of his career in the Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T.

Beckman is coming off a strong start to the 2012 season where he advanced to the semifinals in the NHRA Arizona Nationals and is ranked fourth in Funny Car points.

Last year, he qualified No. 2 at Gainesville and advanced to the semifinals.

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Series NHRA
Tags beckman, dsr, gatornationals, schumacher