SERVICE CENTRAL RACING PARTNERS WITH DSR AND JOHNNY GRAY
JUNO, Fla., Jan. 11, 2011 -- TBC Retail Group -- which operates the popular retail tire and auto service outlets Tire Kingdom, NTB - National Tire and Battery, Merchant's Tire and Auto Centers, and Big O Tires -- has signed an agreement with Don Schumacher Racing to field a Service Central Racing sponsored Funny Car to be driven in the NHRA Full Throttle season by veteran racer Johnny Gray.
According to Bob Crostarosa, Sr. Vice President of Marketing at TBC Retail Group, "Johnny has done a great job both driving for and representing our brands this past season. Racing has given us the opportunity to expose the public to the Service Central brand which provides the best quality available service and products they can expect to find at all the Tire Kingdom, NTB-National Tire and Battery, Merchant's Tire and Auto Centers, and Big O Tires stores nationwide. We believe teaming him with the resources of a great organization like Don Schumacher Racing is the perfect way to get the Service Central brand in front of the drag racing fans while really increasing our chances to earn some Wally's along the way."
Gray, who last year drove a Pro Stock car for Service Central, returns to the Funny Car wars in which he competed from 1999-2004 and again in 2006. His Pro Stock career, which began with two campaigns 1993-94 had resumed in 2008.
"It's been great driving Pro Stock, but it was time to move up into Funny Car for added exposure and we decided Don Schumacher Racing was the way to go," said the 57-year-old racer.
"I had driven a Funny Car for Don several years ago (six races in 2004) and knew his was the right organization for our program. Lee Beard (team crew chief) and I get along real well and always have. This looks like it was meant to be."
According to Don Schumacher, combining Gray with Lee Beard should mean a team that is capable of winning the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship right from the Winternationals.
"Johnny brings great driving experience," said Schumacher. "We believe DSR, with Lee in the lead, can provide him and Service Central with the ability to move into the top tier of the Funny Car category.
"We are very proud to add the Service Central, Tire Kingdom, NTB - National Tire and Battery, Merchant's Tire and Auto Centers, and Big O Tires to the list of sponsors who support Don Schumacher Racing and were excited to have Johnny back in a DSR Funny Car."
"I've always loved racing," said Gray, a native of Artesia, N.M. "I've raced since about 1969 in various [drag racing] categories, including alcohol dragster and alcohol funny car, as well as some circle track and road racing.
"Funny Cars may not be the hardest race cars to drive, but they are the most exhilarating!"
Gray joins a "loaded" DSR (www.shoeracing.com) with 2010 top-10 Funny Car drivers Matt Hagan (second) for DieHard, Jack Beckman for Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services (fourth) and Ron Capps for NAPA Auto Parts (seventh), as well as Top Fuel pilots Tony Schumacher for the United States Army (second), Antron Brown for Matco Tools (fourth) and Spencer Massey for Fram/Prestone (did not race in 2010).