DEARBORN, Mich., May 29, 2012–The late Bob Tasca Sr.’s story began in the eighth grade, when he decided to be a Ford dealer.
He wrote about it in a class assignment. Really, that first assertion showed the personality that was already evolving the boy to a man whose discipline and self-awareness would yield a very simple business plan: To satisfy each customer, no matter what. That plan would make him a very successful Ford dealer indeed.
It didn’t take long for that dream of an eighth-grader to begin. At 16, Bob Sr. started his first job at a Ford dealership. Eleven years later, he opened his own – Tasca Ford. At 27, Bob Sr. was a Ford dealer.
Bob Sr. died in January 2010 with no regrets. The man who made his decisions based on three questions (Would he be happy? Would he be healthy? Would he be doing something he wanted to do?) would die a legend at Ford Motor Company with a sprawling, successful family that cherished him and a legacy that stretched from the dealership floor to the world’s fastest motorsport, NHRA Full Throttle Series Drag Racing.
This weekend at the NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, his grandson Bob Tasca III and Motorcraft and Quick Lane Racing will honor Bob Sr. with a special paint scheme. Called the Mystery 4 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang, the design brings back the iconic “Mystery” series campaigned by Bob Sr. in the early days of drag racing.
Bob Sr., who first raced a “Mystery 9,” said it was mystery how quick his cars would run. Every time his car broke a second barrier, he’d lower the number. He breezed through Mystery 9-8-7. Years later, Bob III put Mystery 5 on his Top Alcohol Funny Car. Someday, he says, he’ll run Mystery 3 when he breaks the four-second barrier in his nitromethane-burning Motorcraft/Quick Lane Funny Car.
Through his own ingenuity and straight-talking leadership style, Bob Sr. influenced decisions made at Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., even convincing it to become involved in drag racing on an organized, strategic level. He developed the Cobra Jet engine. And even though the list of his contributions on both sides of the “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” equation is long (Bob Sr. came up with that famous phrase for starters), his proudest accomplishment was his family.
Bob Sr.’s wife Josephine brought him religion – she kept a Blessed Lady statue in the foyer he’d rub on the head at night. He gave her the family she’d bring to the family dealership for dinners on Sunday. Josephine would cover a parts bench with a tablecloth and gather the family around it.
Years away from fulltime jobs but old enough to pick up parts and wash rags, the children, then aged four to seven, emulated their father as soon as they could walk.
“(Josephine) would say to me over the years, ‘You’re working them too hard. They’re going to quit,’” Bob Sr. said. “(I would say) If they’re going to quit, they’re going to quit smarter than when they came. They never quit.”
The two met on a Tuesday night, when she was making her weekly church visit with friends. She saw a 1939 Ford with “shocking” purple lights pass by a few times. Bob Sr. eventually stopped and Josephine talked first to his friend. Eventually, they married.
Now almost every descendent of the two work in the family’s Ford business, carrying on the award-winning salesmanship and service Bob Sr. began when he opened his first dealership.
“I am so proud that every Tasca is interested in the car business, and they’re not interested in it because I pay them to be interested in it,” Bob Sr. said in a family video before he died. “They’re interested in it because they love it. That’s why they work so hard.”
Bob Sr. had one more piece of advice for his family.
“If you’re healthy and happy, you’re going to be successful,” Bob Sr. said. “If all you work for is a check at the end of the week, you’re not going to be successful.”
His grandson, as passionate about NHRA Drag Racing as Bob Sr., will work toward success in Englishtown.
“I was blessed to have had my grandfather in my life for as long as I had,” Bob III said. “He taught me so much about business, but he taught me more about life. For me to have been able to be part of the family dealership for many years while he was alive, and then to bring the Tasca family back into drag racing and for him to see me get my first win in both my Alcohol Funny Car and my Funny Car, those are moments I’ll never forget.
“Before he died, he was asked if he’d do anything different. He said no – there’s nothing left for me to do but to watch my family continue and to build on what I started. I can do that here or I can do that in heaven.
“I think about that every time I get in the car. He’s looking down on me. I’m just honored to have the opportunity to be able to race this car this weekend in memory and respect for all my grandfather has done for our family and all the Ford racers around the globe.”
For live updates, follow the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang team on Twitter (MQL_Racing) and Facebook (click on the “Twitter” icon). Follow driver Bob Tasca III on Twitter at @Tasca3 and Facebook.
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