Full Interview with Bob Tasca III
So you started off good at the Gatornationals
to kick off the year; how do you think it went for you and
Bob Tasca III:
yeah well you know we didn't qualify that well and I think some of it was because we tested at that track and we made some great runs on Tuesday & Wednesday at Gainesville
NHRA had a night session Friday night and
Saturday night, you know we set the car up like we did testing and we ran... I think we ran 88, 388, and testing at almost 3 30.
we made another really good run on
Wednesday. and it kind of didn't go down the
racetrack, so I think it surprised the crew chiefs a little bit.
and then that Sunday morning run was, you know, killer conditions and I
think the track actually got a little bit better and they made
the right adjustments, and what a monster run against caps.
I mean we had an easy side of the ladder, we only had to beat Caps
and Hagen in the first round caps in the second round
We paired up against Robert in the semi-finals
uh but you know those are the rounds you gotta win throughout the course of the season to put your team in in the runnings for the championship when the points reset and those races we lost last year.We lost I think five or six races by you know less than 5 000 of a second and that run against Hagen was one ten thousandths of
a second and you know we came up, on the good side and had a great run against caps and truthfully Robert and I, you know we
both dropped the cylinder, early in that semi-final run we dropped
one pretty much at the hit of the throttle he was a little bit further out when he lost the cylinder and I think I would have lost my house
if someone said that Robert height would run 409 and win the race
we ran 411 but you know that's what makes this racing so competitive that on any given Sunday anybody can win but this Motorcraft uh
you know ford mustang nitro funny car did really well uh we got a great baseline going into las vegas and I just can't wait to get in there and drive it again.
You've been back for a few years and of course, you're responsible for bringing Ford back to the NHRA of course. You've been a long-time partner with the Ford Motor Company over the years. What has it been like to bring a manufacturer like the blue oval and bring them back to NHRA and you know join guys like chevy dodge and Toyota
"this year's probably our best chance at it (the championship) in my whole career as far as the car that we have, the team that we have and with Ford's support, it's been really good over the last year"-Bob Tasca III
Bob Tasca III:
I felt like my grandfather must have felt back in the 60s you know when
he got into drag racing. Our family has been synonymous with NHRA and Ford Racing over the years and you know it's great to have them back. There was a lot going on at the time that they left and you know there was a lot of questions of how NHRA would reposition themselves and bringing, Fox in as the series sponsor for television and watching the growth of the sport. When a lot of sports have really shrunk over the last several years and continue to do so today.
I mean it was just awesome and then you know to be able to compete at the level that we've been able to compete at since we've come back you know competing for the championship and you know really putting our team in a position to run for it each and every year uh this year's probably our best chance at it uh in my whole career as far as, the car that we have, the team,that we have and you know with ford's support it's been uh it's been really good over the last year. A lot of teams have downsized and laid people off you know we've kept the team together with ford's funding and support. I think you're going to see that early in the season. We're coming out of the gate really strong because we got the whole team together and then to see NHRA announced, coming out of Gainesville we had two million viewers uh one of the biggest shows we've ever had on Fox I mean that's exciting there's a lot of energy behind the sport of drag racing and you know to see new technology like the Ford Electric Cobra jet, which I've had the pleasure to drive in Indianapolis and I'm sure I'm gonna drive it again this year. it's a great platform for companies like ford to showcase you know not only at the top level with aerodynamics and engineering support at the nitro levels but now to be able to bring in their electrification strategy and showcase that in straight-line acceleration.. there's probably nothing better.
well, you actually got into my next question and it is actually something that I asked Mark Rushbrook. He runs all of ford's menu uh ford's racing efforts about the eventual electrification. I always wondered how drag racing would adjust to that. What has it been like to test out these new cars as you know as manufacturers are trying to get into the eventual what is changing with electrified racing?
Bob Tasca III:
I think you have some purists out there in the sport of drag racing that you know... they want to see an engine forever. and hey listen, the engine's going to be around for a real long time and of course they've said to me well "gee bob i thought you're a piston guy ? no no stop, I said I'm a performance guy okay" and getting in an electric car and feeling that instant torque; and having a platform like NHRA where the manufacturers can come in and you know; really push their technology to the limits to learn right you know that's really you know where we learn a lot is out on the racetracks whether it's you know NASCAR or road racing or drag racing and we take that technology back to dearborn and use it in the cars that are on the street. I love it I think it's exciting to see another type of racing that's coming out across all industries not just drag racing but I think drag racing, in particular, is going to really take this and run with it because electrification is one of the most exciting parts. The torque and acceleration that you feel and there's no better platform than drag racing to really show it off.
kind of going into that; how important is it to you? you know
because people that I've talked to in the NASCAR world and the indy car, NIMZA, you know the sounds of the cars they wanted. they want to be able to hear the sounds of the engine, you know. some people don't like that the NASCAR cars, would go "whoosh" or something like
Bob Tasca III:
That's not necessarily true. I think it's one of the coolest sounding things you'll hear go down the racetrack. When Ford designed it, they designed it, with straight-cut gears versus helio-cut gears. So you can hear the electric engine spool up and it's really cool. I mean, it's like a blow dryer on steroids. it's a real whistle that, you can hear the gears of the electric engine spinning and when that electric cobra jet goes through the pits, I just find myself, kind of hitting the throttle a little bit. You can hear that thing, and it's such a unique sound and I think fans are gonna love it. Now I wouldn't be a proponent to make them as quiet as possible. which you know certainly, you could do but if you do straight cut gears in the engine it's really a cool sound.
yeah I can't wait to hear it
Bob, I know you've had some crew chiefs over the years, of course you've had some pretty good ones, one of them , the great Eric Lane. What was it like working with him?
Bob Tasca III:
yeah you know it's hard for me to even talk about it. I mean the guy was full of life. such an inspiration. As a young crew member working his way up the ladder to become a crew chief. He helped me when I was part-time before I got my sponsorship. He was my first phone call when we got the sponsorship and you know he put our team in a position to win right out of the gate and uh very fortunate for that but um you know I'm broken-hearted for his family. just a tragic death and it makes you appreciate every day, I can tell you that much.
so kind of talk about who's working with you this year.
"I've always said you can take a great driver and put him in an average car
and he's average; you can take an average
driver and put him in a great car and he's great!" -Bob Tasca III
Bob Tasca III:
yeah so, we made a transition in mid-2019.
We had the opportunity to work with mike Neff and John Shaffer I've always wanted to work with Mike Neff, I didn't really know John that well at the time but I always wanted to work with Mike Neff you know back when I first started racing we competed against each other when he was a driver and then when he went full time being the crew chief you know he and I had a lot of conversations he actually worked with me a little bit when we were under the force alliance and
when I had the chance to get Mike Neff and John Schafer who really is his protege and have so much respect for
John I mean I think you know mike couldn't do what he does without John and John couldn't do what he does without mike they just make such a great team great chemistry between the two of them and I just think as a driver right you know I've always said you can take a great driver and put him in an average car
and he's average you can take an average
driver and put him in a great car and he's great you know so so if I can deliver on on
my side of the bargain as a driver uh and they can do what I know they can do
you know we have a championship quality
program and it's taken me my whole career to be able to say that and over the last couple of years we've shown that with multiple wins seasons you know finished fifth in the points two years in a row
and had the chance to win the championship literally going down to the
the last couple of races you know that are not easy to do in any form of motorsports and I think drag racing of all of them is probably even the most challenging. because we win and lose races by thousandths of a second and in last week's case one ten thousandths of a second it's
so competitive and you're competing against the John Forces and the Don schumacher operations and the Kalitta's you know these are dynasties. these are guys that have been doing it since the 60's 70's 80's you know pick a spot, where they all came in it's um it's really hard and you need a great team. and it has to be led by a great crew chiefs and Mike Neff and John Schaefer are two of the best that has ever done it in a funny car. So I'm very optimistic that the best is yet to come for our program
so I know that you've done the four-wide nationals but with the international's getting pushed back what's it gonna be like going four-wide again in vegas? We know that when the NHRA comes to vegas you know its always a big event
Bob Tasca III:
people always ask me what I think of the four wide and I just look up in the stands. I love four-wide! you know, heck I'd even go six wide if that's what it takes. As a purist I kind of like mono imano and one versus one. it's crazy I'll just tell yah'. I mean doing the burnouts is crazy. After all, you hear three other people doing burnouts, staging the car. It's crazy because you know who's going in first who's going in last. there's a seven-second timeout so you don't want to be the one you know not going in before the tree starts so uh it is crazy. I think that's what the fans love about it. you stand in the grandstands and you feel 40 000 plus horsepower hit the throttle at the same time and go thundering down the racetrack. So it's exciting. We're probably a little rusty as we haven't done it uh since last year. You know we'll pick up pretty quickly we got three qualifying runs. It's an absolutely awesome place to race. Everyone always asks me, "what's my favorite place to race?" well, I don't have one, I probably have five and vegas is definitely in the top five. I'm bummed we're not going there this weekend. We gotta wait... I think another two weeks or three weeks before we get there but we'll be there before you know it and I'm really looking forward to seeing what this Motorcraft car can do!
yeah I talked to Jeff Motley, the long-time pr guy at vegas and you know those guys are excited to see you guys go down there and it looks like you guys are gonna have a lot of you guys are gonna have some fans there as well so that's...
Bob Tasca III:
Gainesville, was so exciting, for me it felt like the first time I went to a drag race. I looked up there, the place was packed with fans everywhere signing autographs, again it was like wow. life is gonna go back to normal. but that's why we're there. last year not having fans in the stands or limited very limited fans in the stands for NHRA, it's not why we go out there. it's not why we race. we race to pack the house and you know to get the fans excited about what we do and I really sense that coming back and remember at every NHRA event every ticket is a pit pass and it's fun for us, it's fun for the fans. you know having them come back and see the guys tear the cars apart warming up the car and the nitro is
pumping into the pits and the fans are screaming. I mean that's what puts a smile on my face I know it's why Ford is involved in the sport and it's
just uh it's great to be able to carry that ford mustang Motorcraft banner in the sport of drag racing.
and of course, Tasca Parts, your day job how's that been?
Bob Tasca III:
yeah, Tascaparts.com we've been selling more parts this month than we've ever sold on the site. It's got my team, I think a little nervous, with the orders rolling in but it's a great time of the year. We always sell a lot in
January, February, March, and it's been great our business has been growing and you know certainly the fans in NHRA have been a big part of
that, and yeah if you need a great deal on an OEM Ford part, it's only a few clicks away at Tascarparts.com!
are your kids getting interested in drag racing? do you think they may do it?
"I'm having too much fun driving! there ain't no way they're getting this steering wheel out of my hand anytime soon" -Bob Tasca III
Bob Tasca III:
My kids are funny. I got them in junior drag racing a few years ago now and Matt my eight-year-old at the time, after he made a couple of good passes and his fire suit, he's all dirty, and he looks at me and goes "dad when do I get to drive your car?" and that was enough to scare me to say
okay we better slow this thing down a little. right now my kids are hockey nuts. They're in hockey and they play at a very high level I got one son, my oldest son, is at providence college, very involved in the business
and I think it'll come with time but they're gonna earn their way in. you know, the business comes first and that's where I started. Racing was more part-time thing. As our business grew and I built, and as we built the team around us to allow me to go out and race that's when I started a race
Plus I'm having too much fun driving! there ain't no way they're getting this steering wheel out of my hand anytime soon, heck I was with Joey Logano; we were match racing some electric cars at z-max and you know it's really true, I think I'm probably just starting my prime in racing. at my age and I say that humbly because we learn three seconds at a clip there's really no simulators that can truly simulate what we do in these race cars they're just there isn't. and to some degree NASCAR as well but I think really um you know, I'm the best I've ever been behind the wheel and I think I'll get better actually over the next several years.
just because you just get more experience and more confidence driving these things and um you know I ain't getting out of the seat anytime soon anyways
and of course, that's another great thing about the NHRA. The drivers that you rooted for as a kid, they're still there! and the biggest thing with fans is how many faces do you recognize? NHRA if you look back 10 years ago a lot of the faces that you're racing today were the faces racing back then and that's a huge thing for the fans.
Bob Tasca III:
yeah absolutely there's a great connection between us and the fans and look at Force! I mean the guy's kind of a phenomenon too. He's still you swinging with the best of us out there so it's, it's great, it's a great sport great competition great camaraderie and you know a great fan base just such a passionate fan base, and heck I don't know if I've been this
excited about a season in a long time so we'll see what we can do out there as soon as we get to vegas.
all right bob Tasca the third thank you so much for coming on and talking with us and good luck next month at the vegas full-ride nationals!
Bob Tasca III:
hey, anytime we're looking forward to it!
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