Four drivers in four divisions took home four titles on November 11 from Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California, as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series crowned three new champions and crowned another for the third time at the Auto Club NHRA Finals. One thing these four men have in common: they’re all still having a tough time believing it happened.
“This has been the dream season for sure,” said Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Ed Krawiec, the only champ of the four who has previous titles (2008 and 2011). “Looking back, 11 finals and nine wins, for me that’s pretty much the most dominant season I’ve ever had in my career. It’s exciting, and for me they’re all great championships. This one is better in different ways, obviously being the dominance all season long. Our Harley Davidson bikes won 15 out of 16 races this year. It definitely is exciting, and to be able to say at the end that I was the champion was great for me.”
Pro Stock champ Allen Johnson earned his first title after 17 years of competition with his family-owned team – a fact that he is immensely proud of. “This has been such a satisfying season for me and my family, and to be able to do it with your dad (his engine builder) and have this success is just a dream come true,” said Johnson in a recent teleconference.
Another driver living the dream is Antron Brown, 2012 Top Fuel champ. Brown, who was in Pro Stock Motorcycles for a decade (1998 through 2007) before switching to Top Fuel, became the first African American driver to win a major U.S. motorsports title. He won the title by just seven points over his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher after exiting the NHRA Finals in the first round (Schumacher lost in the final round to Brandon Bernstein).
“I think that’s the way it played out where the Countdown made it very, very interesting for the fans,” said Brown. “You couldn’t draw it out any better. Trust me, our team wanted to end it in Vegas. When we come to Pomona, we wanted to just go out and have fun and it doesn’t make a difference what happens, and that wasn’t in the cards. I mean, Tony and Spencer (Massey), Shawn Langdon and the rest of them, they put on a heck of a charge, and Tony, that shows you why he’s a seven-time world champ and why his team is that kind of championship team and he won all those championships when Alan Johnson was his crew chief, also, is because he’s on great teams, and Tony knows how to rise for those big moments. I’m just glad that the big moment was for our team. It was definitely heartfelt, and I’m still in awe. Our teammates are still in awe. We’re still calling each other, and we don’t even realize, like is this real? Is this real? We’re just still living that dream.”
Jack Beckman, 2012 Funny Car champ, is still having a tough time wrapping himself around the idea that he’s a nitro champ; Beckman won the 2003 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Comp title, and finished second to DSR teammate Matt Hagan in 2011. “I don’t think it’s all sunk in yet, but I’m sitting out on my back patio, and I still own my Super Comp car, and I’m staring at the trailer, and on the side of it says Super Comp 2003 world champion, and I went, wow, and we can add a Funny Car one to that one now, too,” said Beckman. “After going to the banquet and talking and having the crew there in tuxedos, I think that kind of formalizes everything.”
Source: “2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series World Champions Teleconference Transcript,” NHRA Media, November 14, 2012
Paula is a long-time auto racing fan who also covers the NHRA at Examiner.com.