Ford interview: BobTasca III & John Force

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Bob Tasca III
Bob Tasca III

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Bob Tasca III, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang Funny Car driver has now pushed himself further ahead in standings in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Championship putting himself in seventh place after the race at the Texas Motorplex in Dallas, TX last weekend. As Tasca heads to Maple Grove Raceway, in Reading, PA, a favorite “home track” of his, he thinks back to the times he has won and debuted there during his racing career and is hopeful to add to the list of reasons why he loves racing at Maple Grove.

YOU’RE UP TO SEVENTH PLACE IN POINTS AFTER THE RACE IN DALLAS. TALK A LITTLE ABOUT HOW IT WENT FOR YOU.

“You’ve always got to race the race track, but a lot of times you look back and you would do ten things different. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have done anything different. We went up there against Cruz (Pedregon), who obviously has a great race car, and we ran 4.15 on a 117-degree track on Saturday night. We had full expectations to go out there run a 4.15-4.17 on the same track conditions. Obviously, the left lane was a little better than the right lane, but the right lane looked good enough. And at the end of the day, the car missed it by an eyelash. We overlay the data and we compare from run to run. You’re walking on a razor blade when you’re driving one of these cars and when you’re tuning one of these cars. The difference between running 4.15 and 4.63 is an eyelash. So the car lost traction, I pedaled it, I got it to recover, probably as quick as I’ve ever done in a car. And went out there and ran 4.63. Obviously, Cruz had had a decent run going with that 4.23 so the good news is the points leaders went out early. We moved up in points. We could not have afforded another first round loss. Period.”

“So we at least keep our championship hopes alive going into Maple Grove, a race that I’ve won at. I love racing at Maple Grove. It’s one of the tracks I consider a home track. I’ve won there in my alcohol car. I actually won the Richmond final at Reading believe it or not. That was just how it worked out. It rained out and we ran the final at Maple Grove. I made my debut in a fuel car (there), won in a fuel car, and did very well in an alcohol funny car. So I love racing in Maple Grove. I love the fans, love the area. I can’t wait to get there. Clearly the ante’s been raised. We’ve got to come out of Maple Grove with a final round or win to keep our championship hopes alive. But we moved up in the points so it was a good thing coming out of a race. We had a great, great race car. Great race car this weekend. Saturday we ran low ET by a bunch, had a big first round win against Force. It’s just unfortunate that the car didn’t hang on there in that second round against Cruz. We certainly had a car that could’ve beat him, but that’s why they call it drag racing not drag winning.

TALK A LITTLE ABOUT THE EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER YOU EXPERIENCED IN THE FIRST ROUND WHEN THE (CHRISTMAS TREE STARTING DEVICE) DIDN’T FALL.

“Never happened to me in my career. I knew one thing, I wasn’t leaving that start line until someone explained to me what just happened. So I shut the car off, jumped out and went right up to the start. I wasn’t leaving. I didn’t see the tree! The tree never came on. I rolled through the lights and it just was a malfunction. In NHRA, obviously they realize it was a fault of the tree. They found a module that was loose. They fixed it. We made a tremendous run. Then you get out of the car and we were ten pounds light because we estimated how much nitro we use for the burnout, but obviously we miscalculated. We’ve never done it before, so it wasn’t something to even think about. The guys put in about a gallon and half and it needed about two and half gallons in the tank. And that’s why they tossed the run out. I don’t think it played into anything that happened Sunday because we had the run, we basically repeated the run in the first round and we came out the second round to try and repeat it again, but we missed it by an eyelash. So that’s the way the chips fell and we just look forward to Maple Grove.”

***

John Force smiles for the cameras
John Force smiles for the cameras

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

John Force was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Detroit back in 2008. Last weekend while at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Championship in Dallas, TX, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame announced Force would be recognized alongside Richard Childress and Kenny Bernstein as the newest inductees. Not only is Force being recognized as a legendary athlete within the racing world, but the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis has also recognized him as one of their 2011 sports legends.

YOU’RE BEING INDUCTED INTO THE INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME WITH RICHARD CHILDRESS AND KENNY BERNSTEIN. DID YOU KNOW THE ANNOUNCEMENT WAS COMING IN DALLAS, OR WAS IT A SURPRISE? WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT IT?

“It’s quite an honor. It’s an honor to get inducted into something like that when you look at the greats that have been in there over the past. I’ve always wanted to go down to Talladega to accept for Castrol and, actually, Ford and Auto Club. It gives me a chance to go on a stage and speak about the sponsors. The technology and engineering that have come out of Ford, the people who’ve helped me get here and the long career I’ve had (and I’m not done yet), but it’s exciting to accept on behalf of my family and sponsors and fans, and actually NHRA. Going in with Kenny Bernstein at the same time, a guy that ran the first 300 in a Top Fuel dragster, is really pretty cool. I’m gonna do it and do it with pride for my family and my friends. It’s been a few pretty hectic few days for me. We’re still leading in Dallas with the points lead with Mike Neff, Robert (Hight) behind him and I’m struggling. But we’re going to be OK. We’re going to win this championship.

TALK ABOUT BUSY, YOU’VE GONE STRAIGHT FROM (THE RACE) DALLAS TO NEW YORK FOR THE BUONICONTI FUND TO CURE PARALYSIS, WHERE YOU WERE NAMED A SPORTS LEGEND WITH THE LIKES OF ANDRE DAWSON, NANCY KERRIGAN AND MORE WITH BOB COSTAS AS EMCEE, AND NOW YOU’RE HEADING TO READING. TALK ABOUT THE TIME YOU’VE SPENT IN NEW YORK.

“We left Dallas Monday morning about four o’clock. My wife and I. It was also my anniversary, but I hate to say it, it’s always business first. She understands the business and the fact that I was going to accept this award for the Buoniconti Fund, to Cure Paralysis. This guy was an All-American. His son was a football player. This guy has done everything you could do in major sports, and then his son was hit with such tragedy and was paralyzed. He created this foundation 26 years ago. The party they throw is unbelievable to raise money. They raised $10 million last night entertaining people. We were in the Waldorf Astoria. Don Shula was there, Jerry Rice was there, Bob Costa emceed. Naturally the ten winners, Nancy Kerrigan – the list just went on and on of football, baseball, the great stars and naturally John Force, NHRA and Ford – we were there!”

“It was really cool. I got to get on the stage, and you know me when I have a crowd like that, it was like a couple thousand people. It was a full ballroom. Same place they have the NASCAR banquet a few years back. There were these huge, beautiful balconies – just a packed house. A gentleman there gave a million dollars and you know in this time and age, in this economy, people want to give because they want to help their friends and they want to find a cure. It’s well deserved. I was proud to be a part of it and accept the award, the “Legends” Award. I got a big cup and everything and it was just awesome. Something in the history books for NHRA. I was able to preach the gospel about my sponsors, Castrol and Ford and Auto Club. And about the technology and engineering that we’ve done to make life better. So I’m excited. And that’s not just in racing, but it’s in our technology and engineering. I didn’t have a lot of time on stage, maybe five minutes, but I had them rocking and rolling. It was truly an honor for me. And to save my anniversary, they brought out Diana Ross. My wife was there with me so I was able to say happy anniversary. It was the greatest night in New York we’ve ever had together. It was quite a show. It was all about family and business and that’s really what it’s all about.”

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Bob Tasca III , Mike Neff
Tags force, ford, tasca