It’s a sight that’s hopeful, sad and downright troubling all at the same time.
The race car hauler that carried the U.S. Army banner for 19 years, that represents eight NHRA Top Fuel championships and that has been emblazoned with a 10-foot graphic of Tony Schumacher has sat idle in Don Schumacher Racing’s Brownsburg, Ind., shop since last November.
It’s pointed toward the massive garage doors, ready to roll onto Northfield Drive, out to I-74 and beyond, if only it had someplace to go and the funding to send it there.
Since the Army informed DSR last July that it was ending its highly successful recruiting program, the sport’s largest team hasn’t been able to secure a replacement sponsor.
But the 84-time winner remains committed to company strategy to find the right sponsor, and Schumacher continues to insist he’s eager and clearly qualified to return to the cockpit of the 11,000-horsepower dragster.
“As soon as a sponsor comes through, we will be on the road. My dad and I are working hard together to make this happen. Nothing weird is going on. It sucks that I am not racing, but my life didn’t end,” Schumacher wrote on a social-media site in mid-April as he was about to miss his sixth race. “Nothing weird happened with my dad and I or anything else. We just need a sponsor. We are ready. If you don’t believe me, cut us a check and we will prove it.”
The fact no one has cut DSR a check to back Tony Schumacher has sent disturbing waves throughout the drag-racing community.
It begs the question: What does that say for the appeal — for the future — of the NHRA when its record-setting driver in the headlining class can’t find sponsorship?
“This is not a panic thing. It literally just takes time,” Schumacher said. “It’s not a cheap sport. And I hope we’re not just going to randomly take whatever’s thrown at us. I like to pick the right thing. I want somebody I can be a team with.
“The business-to-business (aspect) is the most important part of it. It’s the reason I’m here. I’m not here to show off. What we do is make businesses grow. That’s why these companies are here. We help Matco recruit people. We help NAPA sell stuff and grow their business,” Schumacher explained. “Then we work with them together. So whoever steps in and does this contract will be privy to Shell and Dodge and Mopar and NAPA and Matco. It just takes somebody who says, ‘I never thought of it that way. I thought it was just about racing.’
“We’re on the track, literally, for six minutes a year — it’s the fastest sport in the world. But the build-up is what it’s about, the business part of it. That’s what we’re all about,” Schumacher said of DSR’s mission.
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