Heartland Park Topeka
TASCA HOPES TO MAKE HISTORY IN KANSAS, WHERE NHRA FIRST NATIONAL EVENT WAS HELD FIFTY-SIX YEARS AGO
Topeka, Kan. – To casual fans of the NHRA Full Throttle Series, Kansas may seem an unlikely spot for the rich story it holds – but history happened there, among the cornfields of Kansas.
After going quicker than he’s ever gone before just last weekend, Bob Tasca III hopes a little history will happen for him in Kansas too, at the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka May 20-22.
In 1955, in Great Bend, Kan., Calvin Rice out-drove 200 competitors to become the first NHRA National Event champion with a 10.30-second pass at 143.95 mph. Only one category existed – Top Eliminator.
How far we have come.
Last weekend, Tasca drove the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car to a 4.074-second pass in the last round of qualifying at Atlanta Dragway to qualify No. 2. The Atlanta-Topeka jump is the first back-to-back on the schedule this season.
Tasca can feel his car getting better – literally. He could tell when he’d run the quickest pass of his life. He’s already bettered his career-best speed three times this year. He hopes all of the good vibes pay off with a special edition pewter Wally, produced by NHRA this year to commemorate the sanctioning body’s 60th anniversary.
“When we ran that 4.07 (during the final qualifying round) on Saturday on a very hot race track, that was one of the best runs of the year. Not just for our team, but for any car out there,” Tasca said. “To run an .07 in those conditions is just incredible. It moved us to the No. 2 (qualifying) spot (overall). We almost ran low ET in that late session, which very rarely ever happens. We had a lot of momentum going into Sunday. We knew we had a car that could win the race and as a driver, you can’t ask for more than that. When the team gives you a race car like that, you can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”
Right after his semifinal finish in Atlanta, Tasca got out of his Funny Car and headed to the airport to fly to Florida for the final lift-off of the Shuttle Endeavour. He then flew to Detroit for meetings with Ford Motor Company before going home to Rhode Island just long enough to switch suitcases for the next race. It’s this up-tempo part of the season Tasca enjoys, especially when momentum is going his way.
“From a rhythm standpoint, and the team, particularly when you’ve got some momentum, you want to get back out there and see what the race car can do,” he said.