“Fast” Jack Beckman is more than just a championship Funny Car driver. He’s a huge fan of drag racing, past and present.
That point was driven home Wednesday during the Power Hour Show when Beckman called in and talked about a wide-range of subjects while sitting in his car in parking lot in Norco as his son was in a piano lesson.
“Race car driver by weekend, normal dad by week,” he said.
But it has been anything but normal lately for Beckman.
Terry Chandler, who sponsored his Infinite Hero car as well as the Make A Wish car driven don Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., died from brain cancer on July 4, just a few months after being diagnosed.
“She was very successful in business and had a heart larger than anybody in life, she wanted to make a difference,” Beckman said.
She certainly did that for a wide range of people, including Beckman.
“She literally changed thousands of lives, including mine,” he said. “ Let’s be honest about this, it’s tough to find sponsorship in drag racing. Nitro drivers are a lot like spark plugs, you can use them up and throw them out.
“There’s a long line of unemployed drivers. I’d have been back fixing elevators three years ago if it hadn’t been for Terry stepping up.”
Beckman would have loved to win the Route 66 Nationals on Sunday to honor Chandler but he went out in the second round. The next best thing would have seen Johnson get the win.
That didn’t happen but it was a win for DSR as fellow teammate Ron Capps beat Johnson in the final.
“I stood in the wrong place,” Beckman quipped. “I stood behind Tommy’s car. I think I should have stood in front of Ron’s car.”
But the end result, Beckman pointed, underscored the integrity of DSR.
“Let’s be honest, in any situation, with any team, I think everybody would have completely understood if that NAPA car idled down the track and gave the win to Make A Wish.
“The bigger picture here, we all love and miss Terry, but that’s a team that came to win and Terry would have accepted nothing less.”
Beckman is a regular visitor to Auto Club Famoso Raceway and makes a point of attending the March Meet and Hot Rod Reunion whenever possible.
“I can’t get enough of them, I love them” he said of the Nostalgia Funny Cars that compete at those events.
He said his first drag race was at Orange County International Raceway in 1973 when his uncle, a huge fans of “the orange car,” took him.
That orange car was the Top Fuel dragster driven by Bakersfield’s James Warren, who became his favorite driver.
“He was a six-time division champion which mean he wore the number 71 on his car that many times,” Beckman said of Warren. “When I got my Top Fuel license in 2005 I paid the money and bought that that number for life.”
Street racing at Famoso
Auto Club Famoso Raceway will hold a Street Tuners event Saturday for anyone with a street legal car or bike.
The event runs from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and is geared to the serious racer with a street car as well as the curious would-be racer.
“I had street raced several times and when my El Camino got towed away on a flatbed because the cops impounded it, that was the last time I ever street raced,” Beckman said.
Beckman said there is likely a group of street racers who can never be lured to the track, “there are just some too dumb for their own good,” he said, but noted there are others who will give it a try and find it rewarding.
Famoso’s Blake Bowser said there are plenty of people at the track to help newbies understand the process and learn the basics about strip drag racing. And you don’t to show you cards so to speak as drivers can opt not to have their numbers (elapsed time and mile per hour) displayed on the scoreboard.
KCRP Dirt Track action
A-Mods, Hobby Stocks, Mod Lites and Western U.S. Midgets will be in action on Friday night at The Dirt Track at KCRP.
Ethan Dotson won the last A-Mod race at the track on May 19. Brad Pounds and Scott Pounds have also won A-Mod races. Racing starts at 7:30 p.m.
Five Divisions at Speedway
Racesaver winged Sprint Cars will headline five divisions of racing on Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway.
Also in action will be Sport Mods, IMCA Stocks, American Stocks, and Mini Stocks. It is free Coke night with each fan getting a ticket for a free Coke from the snack bar. Racing starts at 6.
Southwest Tour at Madera
Derek Thorn of Bakersfield will be looking for his second straight win when the Spears Southwest Tour rolls into Madera Speedway on Saturday.
Thorn, a three-time series champion, is third in points, trailing Bobby Hodges and Blaine Rocha, who also have a win this season. Also competing will be Bakersfield’s Buddy Shepherd, who will be driving the Nick Sivesind-owned car normally wheeled by Lance Wilson.