NHRA DRAG RACING
Marc Gewertz Marc Gewertz
Such a huge financial commitment has
led to 196 event titles and 11 championships
for DSR drivers: seven for Tony Schumacher
and one each for Gary Scelzi, Matt
Hagan and reigning champs Antron
Brown (TF) and Jack Beckman (FC).
BIG TEAM, BIG APPETITE
LOGISTICS AND STATISTICS
You know you’re running a huge
operation when you spend almost a
million dollars a year just on hotels. But
for 8,800 rooms, that’s the bill.
Don Schumacher Racing is the
biggest team in drag racing, employing
120 people – 10 on each of seven
teams and another 50 in marketing,
hospitality, accounting and
administration. DSR personnel and
equipment are housed in Brownsburg,
Ind., (a suburb of Indianapolis) in a
“shop” – an inadequate term to describe
a building that occupies more than
120,000sq.ft. It takes up quite a lot of
real estate at the events, too (BELOW).
With four Funny Cars and three Top
Fuel dragsters each making from 180 to
200 runs a year, the teams go through
3, 100 clutch discs ($140 apiece), 4,500
pistons ($65 each), and 24,000 gallons
of nitromethane ($25 a gallon) a year.
Each team has nine complete
short-blocks, and getting everything
from race to race takes 18 18-wheelers,
including the transporters and all the
“tech” trailers, which have evolved from
haulers to rolling machine shops.
agrees Beckman. “That’s just the way crew
chiefs are. I’ve been at DSR since 2006,
and the cooperation between crew chiefs
has never been better than it is right now.
But what makes a crew chief a crew chief,
what got him the job in the first place, is
not the kind of thing that makes someone
a good teammate. They’re all self-motivated, driven, confident, aggressive.
“It wasn’t easy to learn what they
know, so it’s only natural that they want
to keep that to themselves. They probably
had to take a couple of steps backward
before they made progress; they risked
what they already had to get there. So
why would they want to just give that
knowledge away? They wouldn’t.
Everyone here starts with the same
tune-ups and parts, but it doesn’t stay
that way for long.”
All DSR cars have the same chassis,
bodies, and major engine components,
especially now that four of DSR’s 120
race team employees work in the fab
shop, building cars, mounting bodies, and
manufacturing an ever-increasing
number of engine parts. Having seven
teams under the same roof allows
Schumacher to benefit from economies
of scale, eliminates the overnight shipping
costs that can cripple independent teams,
and brings that much more of the
operation under his direct control.
“The best part of having a seven-car
team is the off-season,” Brown explains.
“One of the crew chiefs can say, ‘This is
the direction we should go to develop this
part,’ and the other guys can all have
their input right then and there without
having to track anybody down. Someone
can come up with a completely different
fuel pump, for example, and can tell the
other guys, ‘This is definitely working on
my car. You might want to try this in
testing before next year.’ It just works.”
Yes, sometimes, bigger really is better.
Sponsors come and go: Massey lost his
Fram sponsorship, Hagan his Aaron’s deal,
and Gray his Service Central gig over the
winter, but all seven team/driver combos
from 2012 are back for 2013.
And they know they’re not going to
get a better deal, or have a better chance
to win, anywhere else.
(TOP) Beckman is the
current Funny Car
king but he’s always
got to beat 15-time
FC champ John Force.
was an early adopter
of the DSR cockpit
Marc Ge wertz
94 SPRING 2013