LAS VEGAS – “Underwhelming” wasn’t the adjective Bob Tasca III expected to use to describe his first ride in an NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car.
But in 2007, when Tasca took a borrowed car out to 200 feet at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, underwhelmed was how he felt. He’d already beaten Frank Manzo’s Top Alcohol Funny Car record with a career-best ET of 5.451-seconds at 263 mph – a record it took Manzo years to get back.
Tasca still has the time slip. He was beginning to wonder…was that it?
“I got out of the car and thought my alcohol car was tougher,” Tasca said.
Then he mashed the throttle and in seconds, that 200 mark was a memory, and Tasca’s mind hasn’t slowed down since.
“I could not believe how hard it accelerated from 200 to 600 feet,” Tasca said. “I was just blown away. When we went from 200 feet or so to half-track, I remember saying to myself ‘it’s indescribable, the difference between an alcohol car and a Funny Car.
“The second time I drove it was when it kind of crystallized in my mind that this thing is real fast.”
Tasca remembers those first moments every time he returns to Las Vegas, like he will when the NHRA Full Throttle Series comes to town for the 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 1-3, 2011. By this point, though, he’s put 3 ½ years-worth of trips down the country’s quickest quarter-miles between him and rookie hood.
“Looking back, it’s amazing how far we’ve come from that very first time to our fourth season, with the confidence our team has now,” Tasca said.
In both of the season’s first two events, Tasca and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car team have been bounced in the early rounds by the eventual race winners – in both cases, ‘One Ford’ teammates from the John Force Racing stable. Robert Hight won the season-opener, and Mike Neff claimed the title at the NHRA Gatornationals.
While losing to the eventual winner would offer a small solace for some, it reminds Tasca of how close they must be to a win of their own.
“When you have a program like we have right now, on any given weekend we can leave with the trophy,” Tasca said. “That’s the confidence and attitude of our team. We know we have what it takes to win. In any sport you have to have things go your way…I was very happy with what we did in Gainesville, from a progression standpoint. But there would be nothing better for me than for us to get our first win in Las Vegas.”
When it comes to his first few years, Tasca wouldn’t change a thing. Best friend Tony Pedregon and mentor John Force have been there to give advice and answer questions for him. And Tasca takes advantage of the insight and wisdom time in the seat has provided.
Ironically, he said, things now feel slower in the car.
“What used to be real fast, from the standpoint of knowing what to expect in the car, over the four years, it seems like I feel more now,” Tasca said. “I see more than I did. I always tell people I would never want to relive the first 50 runs in a Fuel Funny Car.
“In the first 50 runs, the car is so fast and it’s so far ahead of you that I really feel it takes 50 runs before you even know where you are. Believe me, I’m still one of the inexperienced in the field, but from the standpoint of having over three years in now, I have much more confidence and I’m much more aware of what the motor sounds like and what the race car is doing going down the race track.”
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** Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing **
NEXT EVENT, NHRA Full Throttle Series
12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals
Las Vegas – April 1-3, 2011