This Week in Ford Racing - Robert Hight
Robert Hight, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car, was a clutch specialist on John Force’s car when the now 15-time World Champion earned his 100th career win in 2002 to become the first – and only – driver to win 100 NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car Races. Just three years later, on the same track, Hight drove his own way to the Winner’s Circle in a day that seemed to stretch for ever.
What is it about Houston that seems to put up milestone stats for John Force Racing? Is it luck, magic or hard work? Hight says it’s the team’s dedication to excellence, inspired by Force himself, and the sweet combination of good weather and altitude that make for magical moments at the southeast Texas track.
This week JFR hopes to add one more stat to the record books -200th Team Win.
TWIFR: WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT WINNING YOUR FIRST CAREER EVENT IN HOUSTON?
ROBERT HIGHT: “It seemed like the longest day of my life. When you make four rounds and you only have 75 minutes in between rounds, that really shouldn’t take that long. But it was my fourth career race that I’d ever been to, as a driver, and the next thing I know I’m in the final. It was just the longest day. You go up there not expecting really to win because everything’s still new to you. You think, ‘This isn’t all supposed to be happening this fast, racing a great guy like Cruz Pedregon.’ What I really remember most is Bernie Fedderly, over the radio, after I won. Back then I couldn’t even see the win light. I was so new to driving and so focused, and probably still behind the car as far as knowing what I was doing, that I never saw the win light. That didn’t come until after another six months of driving, when you get a little more comfortable and you finally see the win light pop up on your side. So I didn’t know who won. But Bernie Fedderly was on the radio all excited, telling me I’d won. Then it was just like, ‘Now I’ve got to get out of this car and do an interview, and talk to the media.’ It was overwhelming.”
TWIFR: DO SOME OF THOSE FEELINGS COME BACK EVERY TIME YOU GO TO HOUSTON?
RH: “It definitely always stays with me. I love going to that race. I love Texas. I remember in 1997, when we switched to Ford, I was a crew member on John’s car. We were just in the midst of all the changing, and they brought us a Ford Expedition tow vehicle. John was so adamant about getting all the Ford stuff in place that they brought this Ford Expedition to us in the staging lanes, and we switched tow vehicles in the staging lanes. That’s just the kind of guy John is because if there was a Ford product there, he wasn’t about to make another run without it. Bring it to us, and we’ll switch in the staging lanes. All of the other teams were looking at us like we were crazy. But we’ve been in Fords ever since.”
To me, it would be the best scenario for John Force Racing to get their 200th win at Houston where John got his 100th, where I got my first.
TWIFR: WHAT IS IT ABOUT HOUSTON THAT SEEMS DESTINED TO PUT UP BIG MILESTONES FOR YOU? IS IT LUCK OR MAGIC?
RH: “We’ve had a lot of success there, but Houston is a great facility. When the air is good it’s actually below sea level. That just produces huge numbers and horsepower, so it all plays right into our hands. I was doing the clutch on John’s car when he got his 100th win in Houston, and now we go to Houston with the chance for the team to have our 200th points win, which to me is mind-boggling. Since 1996, we’ve been a multi-car team, and we have 199 wins right now. But what’s really, really amazing is how many John has as a driver himself. To me, it would be the best scenario for John Force Racing to get their 200th win at Houston where John got his 100th, where I got my first. A lot of history there, and looking at the forecast, it’s going to be some great racing, good conditions, and we can’t wait. Especially with the start we’ve had to the season. JFR is 3-for-4 and we need to keep that going. I guess if I could write a script perfectly, it would be two JFR Fords in the final. You know then it’s over – you’ve got the 200th win.”
TWIFR: HOW MUCH DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THE POINT STANDINGS NOW?
RH: “Every race that we go to, even though they have a countdown and we do swap the points and change the points up, I’m still watching the points every race and my goal is to leave there with the points lead at least as big as I have now, or keep adding to it. I’d love to stay in the points’ lead and be that No. 1 guy going into the U.S Nationals (in Indianapolis).”
-source: ford racing