Bob Tasca III - Ford interview

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 18, 2008 -- For years, the Tasca name has been seen on Ford drag racing cars. Now, a Tasca will be in one. Bob Tasca III, whose grandfather was instrumental in launching Ford's return to professional drag racing over...

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 18, 2008 -- For years, the Tasca name has been seen on Ford drag racing cars. Now, a Tasca will be in one.

Bob Tasca III, whose grandfather was instrumental in launching Ford's return to professional drag racing over four decades ago, will drive the Motorcraft/Quick Lane® Tire & Auto Centers Shelby Mustang NHRA Funny Car in 2008.

Tasca, with his Tasca Racing team, will run for Rookie-of-the-Year honors as he makes the jump to a Nitro Funny Car after competing in an Alcohol Funny Car the past two seasons. He holds the AFC division's record for quickest elapsed time in the quarter mile at 5.541 seconds at 263 mph.

Tasca will make his first appearance in the car during pre-season testing at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix Jan. 24, preparing for the season-opening NHRA Winternationals event at Pomona, Calif., on Feb. 7-10.

"I'm just really excited about taking a step up and racing a Nitro Funny Car in the 2008 season with Motorcraft and Quick Lane," said Tasca, whose family are well known Ford dealers in the Northeast. "It was really a Herculean effort, in a very short period of time, that we've pulled this thing together on all fronts."

Both Motorcraft and Quick Lane® Tire & Auto Centers have long-standing relationships with Tasca, previously partnering with the third-generation Ford dealer as he made his way through the ranks of racing.

"The Tasca family has been with Ford for a really long time," said Al Giombetti, Ford Customer Service Division executive director. "The Tasca family has also been with racing and drag racing for a very long time, and they're an established family. And, certainly in the automotive world, there are a lot of people who really look up to the Tasca family as being very special.

"When they set their minds to something, they do it. And, they're always successful."

Licensed in both Super Comp and Pro Stock cars and following successful seasons driving an Alcohol Funny Car, Tasca is eager to enter one of the most competitive classes of professional drag racing.

"I'm very confident in my abilities, but at the same time know and realize that there will be quite a learning curve, at least initially, that I'll go through," said Tasca. "At the end of the day, we are focused on qualifying and we're focused on winning rounds. You win rounds, you win races. You win races, you win championships. So it's a one-step-at-a-time approach that we're going to take, but we're certainly going to roll into Pomona ready, that's for sure."

Q& A with Bob Tasca III, driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang Funny Car in NHRA competition during 2008

THE 2008 SEASON WILL BE YOUR FIRST IN A NITRO FUNNY CAR. WHAT OTHER FORMS OF RACING HAVE YOU PARTICIPATED IN YOUR CAREER? "I've done a lot of different classes. I started out racing modified Mustangs at just 16 years old, just going down the race track in an 11-second Mustang. Then I went to Roy Hill's driving school shortly thereafter and I got licensed in Super Comp race cars and Pro Stock, which is a professional class. I got a license in Pro Stock and I still have a valid Pro Stock license to this day. I've been to Roy's school several times throughout the years just driving different cars and getting licensed in faster and faster cars. Then we took the leap to Alcohol Funny Car about two-and-a-half years ago and went to Frank Hawley's driving school to get licensed in Alcohol Funny Car. Then we built our own Alcohol Funny Car, which was a big step up from anything that I drove and probably if you ask around is probably one of the most difficult cars of all the classes to drive because there is shifting involved and the staging of the car is pretty complicated and we just had tremendous success.

"To basically come out of nowhere, we've been to, I believe, 16 final rounds, we have four victories and we hold the quickest run to this day in the history of the sport of Alcohol Funny Car class. It's 5.541 at 263 miles per hour. Nobody's been quicker. There is a faster speed, but nobody has been quicker in the Alcohol Funny Car than our team.

"So, in a very short period of time, we've really accomplished some amazing achievements in a class in which you're competing against people that have been doing it for many, many, many more years than we have. So, it was exciting.

"Motorcraft was a part of that and I have a lot of ideas and visions on how we can really utilize this race car not only as a marketing means, which most sponsors really look at it from a marketing standpoint, but to really integrate it into training, recruiting and marketing being a big piece of it, and obviously Motorcraft was excited and Quick Lane was excited with the idea and then really, a Herculean effort, in a very short period of time, we've pulled this thing together on all fronts. And I think it will be an exciting thing for the fans with a lot of what Motorcraft has planned and Quick Lane in the midway. It's going to be exciting for the dealers, because the dealers are going to get engaged in a way that -- NASCAR is certainly an amazing form of racing, but it's very distant, the fans and the dealers don't get the opportunity to get up and close and personal like you can in NHRA with a lot of things going on. So, it will really be an engaging platform for both the fans and the dealers. And obviously the sport itself, the class of Nitro Funny Car is arguably the star of the whole division, it's just an exciting class to compete in."

MOVING UP THE DRAG RACING LADDER AND INTO THE NITRO CAR, HOW WILL IT COMPARE TO YOUR ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR? "It's a question that I can't fully answer yet. I've made two or three runs in the Nitro funny car working on my license, which will wrap up either in Las Vegas or Phoenix. Basically from what I've experienced thus far, the Alcohol Car is a much more complicated technically involved race car from the starting line to about 300 feet out, because you're staging it and you're shifting the car and there's just more happening. The Fuel car [Nitro car] from 300 feet on is a much faster and much more aggressive vehicle to drive than an Alcohol car. It's just accelerating so much harder from that point forward. >From zero to 60 feet, they're comparable. From 60 feet to 100 feet, the fuel car starts charging, but in the Alcohol Car you're shifting, so you have to watch your shift points. Then from 300 feet to the finish line, there's a huge difference. The car at half-track, the Fuel car is going faster than the Alcohol car is going at the finish line. There is a significant difference from that respect."

YOU COME FROM A LONG LINE OF FAMILY MEMBERS INVOLVED IN THE AUTOMOTIVE BUSINESS, STARTING WITH YOUR GRANDFATER. WAS HE THE ONE THAT FIRST GOT YOU INTERESTED IN RACING? "Yeah, my grandfather back in the '60s -- he had a lot of different cars. He had the Thunderbolt, he had the street Boss, the Fairlanes and he ultimately became one of the pioneers of Funny Car racing. My grandfather had a car called 'Mystery 9' and then they broke the nine-second barrier and then called it the 'Mystery 8' and then they ended at 'Mystery 7.' This car [we're running this year] is technically 'Mystery 4' as a continuation of my grandfather back in the '60s. But to see how the cars have progressed from then, it's quite remarkable. It's always been something that my grandfather has been involved with. And truthfully, it's kind of funny because I wasn't even born when they were at the peak of it, but I felt as though I lived the racing era through the stories. The stories my family shared over the years have been amazing. So for us to be able to come full circle with this thing and to be at where my grandfather left off, heck about a 50-year gap in-between is pretty neat.

"And to be with Ford, my family has been with Ford exclusively for over 60 years. My grandfather started as a mechanic and worked his way up the ladder, owned a store and did a lot of racing with Ford and through Henry Ford II, was very engaging and I think Henry and my grandfather were very close, and led the charge for Ford in drag racing. I think it's pretty neat to bring together the names of Shelby, this will be a Shelby Mustang that we'll debut, with Tasca, Ford, Motorcraft and Quick Lane, it's going to be a pretty neat combination. With me driving, it's a pretty interesting dynamic because I'm a dealer. I grew up in dealerships, I've worked in Quick Lanes and built Quick Lanes and sold a boatload of Motorcraft parts, so I think it's going to fun giving me an opportunity to be a spokesperson. I can talk to the fans and to the dealers in a way that a typical driver can't."

IT MUST MEAN A LOT TO YOU TO BRING YOUR FAMILY INTO THE NEXT STEP IN DRAG RACING? "Oh yeah, no question about it. It's going to be an exciting year for us and certainly we have big goals. We're building a program, certainly we're new, but my crew chiefs aren't new, they are very experienced and veterans in the top fuel ranks. We've got some new members on the team and we've also got some very experienced people on the team.

"Certainly for me, I don't have a lot of experience in a Nitro Car, but I've got a couple hundred runs in an Alcohol Car, and there is no better car to drive as a prelude to a Fuel Car than an Alcohol Car. Some of the greatest drivers of all time have proven themselves in alcohol. Tony Pedregon drove; Gary Scelzi and big names in the sport came up through Alcohol. I'm very confident in my abilities, but at the same time know and realize that there will be quite a learning curve, at least initially that I'll go through. But at the end of the day we are focused on qualifying, we're focused on winning a round. You win rounds, you win races. You win races, you win championships. So it's a one step at a time approach that we're going to take, but we're certainly going to roll into Pomona ready, that's for sure."

How does being involved in drag racing specifically help you and your business as a dealer? "The drag racing demographic is absolutely dead-on on the Ford buyer. The fans at the drag strip buy our products. You can walk through the parking lots and you can count the number of domestic cars and it's overwhelming versus imports, so that's probably number one. Number two is when you talk about the parts business and you talk about the Sportsman classes. Our class has the pro class but they also have the Sportsman class. There are hundreds and thousands of Sportsman racers that come out to these venues and they are buying parts for their race cars and they're building cars. These are hands-on people that do a lot of work themselves and they are very loyal and they are very engaging to the people that support the series. So as a dealer there is no better demographic to be surrounded by than these Sportsman racers and the fans of the NHRA."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Gary Scelzi , Henry Ford , Bob Tasca III
Teams CIP