Sears Point: Capps returns

SONOMA, Calif. - Ask an NHRA driver to name his favorite dragstrip and he'll probably say - to be politically correct - the site of the current race. Ask Ron Capps that question and there's no hesitation or thought about diplomacy: "It's Sears...

SONOMA, Calif. - Ask an NHRA driver to name his favorite dragstrip and he'll probably say - to be politically correct - the site of the current race.

Ask Ron Capps that question and there's no hesitation or thought about diplomacy: "It's Sears Point Raceway," he answers.

The reason is simple. It has been one of the major focal points of Capps' motorsports life. He grew up watching races at the facility, raced go-karts on the road course, helped others race there and, finally, drove there himself. And won.

Capps is one of the National Hot Rod Association's new generation of drivers who will become the champions of tomorrow, as early, he hopes, as this year. He enters this weekend's NHRA Fram Autolite Nationals (Aug. 4-6) at Sears Point in fourth place in points.

Capps was born and raised in San Luis Obispo, but moved to Cupertino in the Bay Area to attend college. Although he discovered drag racing as a youngster, attending races with his dad, Capps didn't begin his driving career until 1994.

"My first drag racing experience at Sears Point was in 1989 when I worked on Blaine and Alan Johnson's Top Alcohol dragster during NHRA's divisional races there," Capps recalled. "They just dominated. That's how I got to feel it was my home track because every time I went up to help those guys, we'd end up winning the race."

Capps' turn behind the wheel came in 1994 in an injected nitro dragster owned by John Mitchell. "At my first NHRA National event there we ran in the 5.80s (seconds) and I beat Jay Payne on a hole shot for the first win of my career. That was pretty cool."

What Capps accomplished at Sears Point in 1997 was beyond cool. It was incredible.

In his first year driving Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car, Capps won the Fram Autolite Nationals at Sears Point. It was his second victory of the season and the third of his NHRA professional career.

"That race is definitely one of the best highlights of my career," said Capps. "My wife Shelley grew up in the Bay Area so all of her family as well as all of my family and a lot of friends were there for the win. It was real special. It's hard enough to win one of these races let alone win when you have your entire family there."

Capps, who now has eight career victories, still gets excited when he returns to Sears Point to race. The families and friends will be there again for the 2000 edition of the Fram Autolite Nationals and Capps will be trying just as hard to put Prudhomme's Camaro in the winner's circle.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Jay Payne