TOP FUEL DRIVER
TONY SCHUMACHER: THE DRIVE FOR NINE CONTINUES
While the competitive balance in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel ranks is at an all-time high, Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and his nine-man U.S. Army Dragster team for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) continue to set the standard.
And the 47-year-old Schumacher continues to take his moniker “Sarge” to heart as he enthusiastically serves as a civilian ambassador for the U.S. Army for the 17th full season competing in the fastest and quickest form of motorsports in the world.
In 2016, Schumacher looks to up his record total of career Top Fuel world championships to nine, while his record total of career Top Fuel event titles grew to 82 during his 2016 campaign, having captured the coveted Wally trophy at the Mile-High Nationals on the outskirts of Denver in July, and at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend. The latter event title made him the winningest driver ever at the U.S. Nationals with 10 career victories. And, adding to his accomplishments there was a thrilling victory in the $1 million-to-win TRAXXAS Shootout all-star event within the main event. He also was No. 1 qualifier for the record 80th time in his career at Pacific Raceways near Seattle in early August.
Schumacher, who was the first driver to reach 330 mph in a quarter-mile in 1999 with a head-turning run of 330.23 mph, and was the first to hit the milestone at the NHRA’s current distance of 1,000 feet with a run of 330.30 mph in 2012, began the 2017 season with an astounding career won-loss record of 776-366 in elimination rounds.
Not only has Schumacher and his DSR team proven their penchant for winning events and championships time and again, they also are among the leading innovators of safety initiatives in the motorsports industry. Midway through the 2012 season, Schumacher and the U.S. Army team introduced a protective, enclosed cockpit canopy on its dragster as part of the DSR safety initiative, and the system has made its way to a number of other teams.
As part of his racing weekend regimen throughout the year, Schumacher represents the U.S. Army at high school appearances and hosts recruits and soldiers at each of 24 NHRA events. He also has met with troops at various bases in the country and at war-zone military outposts in the Middle East, and he’s made several trips to Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in Washington, D.C.
On the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Schumacher traveled to Washington to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon. In December 2009, he delivered his 2009 NHRA Top Fuel championship trophy to Fort Hood and dedicated the championship to the fallen soldiers at the base from an earlier tragedy.
True to his character, Schumacher has immersed himself in the Army way of life whenever opportunities have arisen through the years. He’s enjoyed hands-on experience with a countless array of Army equipment and machinery, and has even participated in airplane jumps with the U.S. Army Golden Knights. Schumacher certainly wears the colors of the U.S. Army with pride and honors the opportunity to do so.
His father Don Schumacher was a pioneer NHRA Funny Car drivers until 1974 when he retired with five NHRA event titles. Don returned to drag racing 1998 when his son began competing in a Top Fuel dragster and founded DSR.
Don, whose son presented him for induction on May 2, 2013 into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, fields seven professional NHRA teams – three in Top Fuel and four in Funny Car. Entering the 2017 season, DSR has won 293 NHRA events en route to earning 16 NHRA world championships.