It's an early Christmas for Don Schumacher Racing and driver Jack Beckman.
Veteran Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Funny Car driver Jack Beckman just went through his most challenging season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. He didn’t win a single race, didn’t make the Countdown to the Championship and his Dodge Charger R/T was usually the first of the four DSR flopper entries back on the truck.
That began to change very late in the season when Jimmy Prock joined DSR and was put to work trying to find the magic charm to unlock Beckman’s season. Beckman, a cancer survivor and military veteran whose car carries backing from Oakley-backed Infinite Heroes Foundation and who won the 2012 Funny Car championship kept his chin up and kept persevering through his season-long slump. In fact, Beckman’s problems might be traced to the 2013 U.S. Nationals when he lost the body of his car en route to victory in the Traxxas Shootout (the body left his chassis well after the finish line). After that point, he just seemed to be lost.
Two veterans join the squad
Now Jack Beckman feels that Christmas came early for him as his team confirmed former John Force Racing (JFR) two-time champion tuner Prock (2009 with Robert Hight; 2013 with John Force) will be his lead tuner for the 2015 season, assisted by 2003 champion tuner (for Tony Pedregon at JFR) John Medlen. The trio will have ample time to get to know one another’s at-track ideologies with testing not starting until January 12-16 at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, FL.
Medlen had an initial stay with DSR a couple of years ago before returning to Force’s team down the street and leading the research and development group for that four-car squad. He was known to be working on a new cylinder head for JFR. When Prock was released before the penultimate race at Las Vegas, Medlen assumed tuner duties for his team owner and nearly took NHRA’s most successful Funny Car driver to his 17th title.
“I feel like Santa made an early stop and left three wonderful gifts under the tree,” Beckman said. “It’s been a while since we started the season knowing we had funds for the entire season. And to find out Jimmy Prock was coming on-board, I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be driving for him one day. Then the third gift was when Santa dropped John Medlen off!”
Beckman and Medlen have a special history. “I’ve emceed the Eric Medlen Nitro Night Charity dinner [event] for Sonoma Raceway the last two years and have become very close to John and his family. Having those two guys up in our crew chief’s lounge is just unbelievable. I feel when I go in there I’m going to want to ask for their autographs.”
These two defections from one powerhouse (John Force Racing) to another (Don Schumacher Racing) aren’t the first; tuner Eric Lane joined DSR last year as co-crew chief with Rahn Tobler on Ron Capps’ NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. Capps is a four-time runner-up in the class and finished eighth in the championship this season as teammate Matt Hagan secured his second title over John Force in the season-closing Pomona race last month.