Courtesy of USAToday
After my accident in Seattle with the loss of the tire on my A-Fuel Dragster, I started getting constant headaches and my mom felt it best to at least get it checked out. I went into emergency and got a CT scan where they told me I had a concussion, which was likely to be the cause of my headaches.
They have since gotten better, and I expected to race again soon but I’m starting to get the feeling and have overheard discussions from my dad that he may park my car because of its age. But because my dad is evaluating where we are going in the future, he says he just needs “think time.”
It will be a week or two before my dragster gets to Murf McKinney’s chassis shop, and then we’ll get an idea of what took place with the chassis. He said it’s not just the amount of runs on it, but after eight years of traveling on a trailer, a car takes a lot of stress. Maybe this time off will give me an opportunity to focus on a potential transition into the Fuel Funny Car. Some of it even started this weekend in Sonoma, Calif.
It looked like I was going to get a little break from racing, at least I thought. There is so much I have already begun to learn while being with my dad and his team at Infineon Raceway this past weekend. I was able to focus on observing the Fuel Funny Car and the operation and how the car really works. Let me tell you, I thought that A/Fuel was a lot of stress, but my dad and his teammates run all day long.
I had a few moments with my mom to tour some of the beautiful Sonoma County, and even taste-tested some wines and cheese. I understand the stress that Ashley, Robert and my dad have and it made me more appreciative that I had the opportunity to have a little time away with my mom.
The weekend was short for our Funny Car teams, being beat in the first and second rounds. Robert had to race against Ashley in the first round, which Robert won. Dad raced against Tony Pedregon and got around him. But both were beaten in round two. As drivers, I watch them and they seem to count every point from qualifying points, competitor points, and round win points to see where they stand in the Countdown. It truly is stressful.
I worry sometimes that my dad might have a heart attack, but mom assures me that he won’t. She says it’s the way he has to work to get the job done.
The fans were great, I got to sign a lot of autographs representing BrandSource and Ford, and I didn’t even have a car in the race. But over the course of the weekend, dad had me practicing the process of getting in and out of his Funny Car. And following most of his runs he had me tow the Funny Car back to the pits.
Sonoma is a race track built into the side of a mountain, and it is beautiful, but the return road goes uphill and downhill and is very steep in certain spots. Dad says that more than once he has seen experienced drivers run into the back of their tow vehicles, that’s why he felt it was necessary for me to tow in the hills of Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.
His team was great, teaching me different things, and being patient with me. I asked dad why it was so important for me to continue towing in the car. He said: “The more time in the car pulling on the brake and steering the car and learning the visuals of being in the car, would be a big help in the future.”
He said there was no extra expense or manpower needed and that’s why he wanted to put me in the car now, because it is no extra cost to the teams. I could still feel the heat from the motor and the clutch from the run while towing back. That smell of a freshly run engine is something I never experienced before, because the engine was always behind me in the A/Fuel dragster. I could still feel the heat, and can’t even imagine how hot it would be and what the Boss 500 engine would smell like during a full run.
I am really anxious to get into the car and learn how to race it. But dad said that for the next couple weeks this will be my regimen before even getting to start the motor.
We are driving back home to Yorba Linda as opposed to flying because dad wants us to look at all ways to cut costs when possible. I am driving with mom in the car, while my dad is driving with our team Marketing Manager, Chad Light. Poor Chad just got stuck with dad for 8 hours.
Even though we are trying to cut costs I did manage to buy a few bottles of Napa/Sonoma Valley wines to take home to my new condo. I just moved in a month ago, but haven’t had a chance to spend any real time there. Dad says I have to keep working hard to pay for it, and I know every bit of hard work helps.
I learned the importance of work ethic, time management and responsibility during an internship at my dad’s office and while at a young age on the television show Driving Force. Now learning the business of driving Funny Cars is part of it. But dad’s team and the guys from all of the teams are always helpful in increasing my chances to potentially drive Fuel Funny Cars along with my family.
Speaking of family, Ashley with her husband, Danny, and their cats, Simba and Gizmo, have enjoyed being on the Western Swing during the El Monte RV motor coach trip. But she has also been writing a weekly blog on behalf of El Monte RV. We can’t sweep the Western Swing as my dad has been fortunate enough to do in his career before, because we have lost in both Seattle and Sonoma. But they will be battling it out for a win in Denver in the week to come.
I am not going to Denver; I plan to stay home for a few days. I’ll be in California hitting the beaches, soaking up a few rays and enjoying my new home. Believe me, my mom is a bit mad that I moved out but dad told her not to worry — “she’ll be back.”
Next week I will let you know what happened in Denver as I will be following on the internet and watching on Saturday and Sunday. I will provide a full report on my next Tuesday blog.
The following week I will fly to Indianapolis to work with Ashley’s crew chiefs, Ron Douglas and Dean Antonelli. Hopefully my Fuel Funny Car will be done to the point where I can sit in it, hit the throttle, hear the sound and smell the nitro. … I CAN’T WAIT!