This Week In Ford Racing - Bob Tasca III
Motorcraft Quick Lane driver Bob Tasca III returns to his hometown turf for the Full Throttle Series race at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park this weekend in Englishtown, NJ. Tasca and his team are anticipating not only a win in “E-Town”, but also a hearty ‘welcome back’ to his backyard roots where he began his racing career and won his first race in an alcohol Funny Car.
ENGLISHTOWN, NJ: THIS IS A BIG RACE WEEKEND FOR YOU PERSONALLY. “Yes, it’s like coming home. I tell you, the track pulls so many special moments in my life. The first time I ever saw a drag race when I was 12-years-old, I went to Englishtown. Got my pro-stock license there and won my first race in an alcohol Funny Car and won last year in the FordParts.com Funny Car, when we switched over to the Ford power train. So I can’t wait to get there.”
YOU MENTIONED ABOUT ENGLISHTOWN BEING YOUR FIRST NHRA DRAG RACE YOU EVER ATTENDED. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT DAY? “I went to the race with a gentleman by the name of Ralph Pourier, who ended up being my crew chief on my Top Alcohol Funny Car. He took me there. Up to that point in my life all I knew about drag racing were the stories my grandfather used to tell. I’ll never forget the moment I walked up and stood in line for about 25 minutes to get Bob Glidden’s autograph. And when I came up and introduced myself to him, ‘Bob Tasca III. Bob, nice to meet you.’ He jumped off the stool about eight inches and said, ‘You’re Bob Tasca? Are you Bob Tasca Sr.’s grandson?’ I just never forget that moment and how kind he was. He pulled me into the pit and showed me around. And I think from that moment on, I was hooked.”
WELL WHAT I FIND VERY INTERESTING IS THAT EVERYBODY IN THE NHRA FAMILY ALWAYS REFERS TO ‘GRANDPA TASCA’. IT IS JUST A LOVE AFFAIR WITH YOUR GRANDFATHER, WHO PASSED AWAY NOT THAT LONG AGO. THAT HAS TO BE SO GRATIFYING TO YOU. “No, it really is. And you know, I just was blessed to have him in my life in during the time I started this program and won some races. He was there to celebrate those moments with me. When you look back, he was such a proponent of NHRA drag racing. He believed in it from every aspect— from a marketing platform, from an entertainment platform. I think he loved the accessibility the fans get to our sport. And you know, he coined that phrase ‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” That’s certainly why he invested in and promoted the sport of drag racing.”
REGARDING THE SEASON SO FAR, RIGHT NOW YOU’RE IN EIGHTH IN POINTS IN YOUR MOTORCRAFT QUICK LANE FORD MUSTANG FUNNY CAR. BUT YOU’VE ACTUALLY BEEN HAVING A FANTASTIC YEAR. ACTUALLY, FOR YOU, IT’S YOUR BEST YEAR EVER IN PERFORMANCE, OTHER THAN GETTING WINS. “Yeah, you know in this sport, that’s what makes it crazy. On any given weekend any one of these cars out here can win. We had a little rocky start of the season, but Chris Cunningham, Mark Denner and my guys have really, really gotten this car flying. I’ve had multiple top speeds, I’ve reset my speed record a couple times this year and set my low ET record in Atlanta. So we’re real excited with how the car’s running. Chris, my crew chief, and I talked the other day and he said, ‘Boss, we can’t run this good, this consistent and not start picking up some wins.’ So you’ve got to believe in your team and your car. Certainly, I believe in this Motorcraft Quick Lane team and we’re going to a place that we’ve performed very well at. So I think our next win is right around the corner. And even though we’re in eighth, we’re only a handful of rounds out of fifth. And truthfully, once the points reset as long as you’re in that top ten, any one of these cars can win the championship.”
HOW TOUGH IS IT THOUGH TO KEEP YOUR HEAD UP WHEN YOU’RE RUNNING SO GOOD, YET YOU CAN’T GET THAT WIN LIGHT WHEN YOU’RE GOING DOWN THE STRIP? “In this sport you have to be more mentally prepared for more disappointing moments than exciting moments. The highs are unbelievably high, the lows are unbelievably low. I’ll never forget what Bob Glidden said to me, ‘Kid, leave the bad behind, take the good with you and don’t ever, ever look back.’ I think being in my fourth year of racing, I’ve been able to deal with the highs and lows much better than my first year or two. You know, you get depressed. You put so much into this sport, you lay it all on the line and you sacrifice so much. Then you don’t come away with the trophy, particularly when you start losing races by six or seven inches like what happened to us in Topeka against [Ron] Capps. I mean, we would’ve beat 14 of the 16 cars, we just raced the wrong guy. But at the end of the day we look forward to the next race and that’s all you can do! You can’t put too much on each race because it’ll tear your heart out of you if you let it.”
LET’S TALK ABOUT ENGLISHTOWN THIS WEEKEND. YOU TALK ABOUT HOW SPECIAL IT IS TO YOU. WHAT ABOUT THE VENUE ITSELF? WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES IT SO GOOD FOR BOB TASCA III TO GO RACE AT? “Well, I think it’s really the history behind Englishtown. It’s got so much history. It’s in my backyard. There are so many fans that come out to support us and I’m so fortunate for that. And again, it’s the first place I went to a drag race, I’ve gotten licensed there, I’ve got a win in my Top Alcohol car. There’s just something magical about ‘E-Town’ as we call it. I can’t wait to get back to it, that’s for sure.”
IS IT THE TRACK SURFACE, IS IT THE TRACK OR IS IT ALL THE REST OF THIS THAT JUST GOES INTO YOUR MINDSET AND THE CREW FOR SOME REASON? “No, you know it’s everything else. The surfaces are the surfaces. We’re very fortunate to race on just unbelievable facilities around the country. Obviously, we’ll tune the race car to the track temperature. From any given day a track really is dictated by the temperature of the surface. So, it’s the ambience. It’s just everything about Englishtown that makes it special for me.”
... we’ve got so much more confidence.
THIS TIME OF YEAR YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT THE WEATHER IS GOING TO BE, YOU JUST KIND OF TOUCHED ON THAT. YOU’RE RUNNING INTO THAT PROBABLY THROUGHOUT THESE SUMMER MONTHS. “Yeah, we run it from day-to-day. We’ve had some crazy weather races where you’re going out running 4.07, and then you try to run 4.20 because the track is 30 degrees warmer. Really that’s where you have to tip your hat to the crew chiefs. I’m the driver of the car, but I give all the credit to my team and crew chiefs. They have to make the tough call. And at the end of the day, track temperature is everything. A five to 10 degree swing can really play havoc on how these cars are set up.”
A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO THE, SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR RETURNED TO EARTH. YOU WERE THERE WHEN IT TOOK OFF DOWN AT CAPE KENNEDY. “I was very fortunate to become very friendly with Mark Kelly and his family. I met a lot of the astronauts and engineers in my time racing in Houston and to be a part of that launch and to see that thing go up is truly amazing. People ask me, ‘Okay, Tasca. What’s louder, a Nitro Funny Car or a shuttle?’ I say, ‘Well, listen. The Nitro Funny Car is louder, but you’re standing right next to it. That shuttle being two and a half miles away was awfully loud. I wouldn’t want to be standing right next to the space shuttle. So it was an awesome deal. It was great to see Mark get home safely and all the astronauts a part of that mission.”
YOU ALSO RECENTLY VISITED THE WOOD BROTHERS AND TREVOR BAYNE. HOW EXCITING WAS THAT FOR YOU? “That was fun. I think you’re going to see a commercial here for FordParts.com. I coined that phrase last year getting out of the race car. I said, ‘Any Ford part, anytime. Even in your pajamas!’ on FordParts.com. So I think the folks out there at FordParts.com took it literally. They had me in pajamas, in my motor home, you know coming out of the bus. And you had the Wood Brothers working on their car (they’re not as tech savvy as me and Trevor), so Trevor and I had some fun at their expense a little bit. That was a lot of fun. We had a good time. You got Trevor Bayne in a Nitro Funny Car, sat him in the seat, he looked at me and said, ‘Man, you are crazy to get in one of these things.’ So we had a good time.”
ROBERT HIGHT, ABOUT A YEAR AGO, GOT ONE OF THE WOOD BROTHERS COINS AND HE CARRIES IT WITH HIM. HE’S OBVIOUSLY HAVING A GREAT SEASON SO FAR. DID THEY GIVE YOU ONE OF THOSE LUCKY COINS TO WISH YOU LUCK A LITTLE BIT? “No, but don’t tell Robert. I’m taking it out of his pocket this weekend at Englishtown. I’m walking up behind him, I’m gonna bump him (I’ve been practicing) and I think I’m gonna take that coin out of his pocket, because he’s having an unbelievable season.”
WHAT’S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND? HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO IT? “I feel great. I’ve been looking at the weather and it’s certainly conditions that we’re accustomed to for Englishtown, so I think a lot of our data will be relevant. It always throws you for a loop when you go to a place and the temperature is totally different from the year before. So I think we’ll be in the ball park. Clearly, we’ve got so much more confidence. I look at where we were last year going into Englishtown, that was literally the first race with the entire Ford BOSS 500 platform in our race car and we won it. So turn the clock forward a year and we’ve got so much data, so much confidence and obviously, some great momentum: Going to the finals at Charlotte, semi-finals in Atlanta and it was clearly running very good out there at Topeka. So I just think it’s a matter of time before this Motorcraft Quick Lane puts the win light on in the final round anyways. We’ve done it a few times in the other rounds.
-source: ford racing