Densham back home in last bid to catch Worsham for third place. POMONA, Calif. -- His hope of winning the POWERade Funny Car Championship gone in a cloud of mid-season tire smoke, Gary Densham didn't have to look far to motivate himself for this...
Densham back home in last bid to catch Worsham for third place.
POMONA, Calif. -- His hope of winning the POWERade Funny Car Championship gone in a cloud of mid-season tire smoke, Gary Densham didn't have to look far to motivate himself for this week's (Nov. 7-10) season-ending 38th annual Automobile Club of Southern California Finals at the Los Angeles County Fairplex.
The former auto shop teacher spent the week leading up to the finale not at the Yorba Linda race car shop that houses the national record-holding Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford Mustang he drives for John Force, nor in the shop in which he and his son, Steven, maintain the latter's Top Alcohol Funny Car.
Instead, with the assistance of the Auto Club, Densham joined a crew of 6,000 men and women aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vincent for maneuvers off the Pacific Coast in which Navy and Marine Corps pilots were being certified for carrier operations.
Densham, who as the chief spokesperson for the Auto Club's Youth and Education Program each year addresses more than 60 student groups across the country, was on board to show his support for young naval personnel, most of whom are not far removed from high school.
"It's because of the efforts of the men and women in our armed services that I usually get to spend the weekends doing what I love, which is drag racing," Densham said.
"So to have the opportunity to go on board the Carl Vincent and show these young people how much they are appreciated was a wonderful experience. Plus, there was a big bonus for me. We not only made some new friends for the Auto Club and drag racing but I can say I feel a whole lot better about the security of the country having met the young people intrusted with it."
The USS Carl Vincent, whose home port is Bremerton, Wash., was the first aircraft carrier to launch air strikes from the North Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Densham said his trip helped put everything into perspective.
"This isn't war," he said of this week's race on a track on which he was clocked at a record 326.87 miles per hour last February. "It's just drag racing. It's fun. Now, that doesn't mean we don't want to win, but it's not life-or-death. It's been a great year, but what could be better than winning the last race of season at your home track?"
Densham, who ended almost 20 years of frustration on the NHRA tour when he won for the first time last year at Memphis, Tenn., starts the weekend 31 points down to Del Worsham 0x2022 the equivalent of two racing rounds 0x2022 in the battle for third place.
"It's been a great year," Densham said. "We won a couple of races. We led the points. We set the record. I wish we were racing for the championship, but I'm going to have the best seat in the house to watch John and Tony fight it out. The only thing that would make it any better is if we were able to catch Del for third place. To finish 1-2-3, that would be something."
Still, regardless of what happens, Densham won't be too unhappy.
Already guaranteed the best finish of his career and already signed on for another year at John Force Racing, he's living a dream.
" I tell everyone that a bad day racing is better than a good day doing almost anything else," Densham said. "It's great to be able to do something you love to do 0x2022 and get paid for it."