Ron Capps has a 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Series nitro Funny Car world championship on his resume.
Capps has won 64 NHRA national event wins – 63 in Funny Car and one in Top Fuel.
What Capps doesn’t have is a trophy from the prestigious March Meet at Auto Club Famosa Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif.
And, that’s something he covets.
“Winning that March Meet is what keeps me going back,” Capps said. “Trust me, that trophy would go up right next to the world championship trophy. There’s no doubt about it. I grew up going to Bakersfield with my parents every year. Never fail, every year, the U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships in Bakersfield, it was the event for the year. It brought Garlits out, Kalitta, it brought people out from all over the country. That basically was the March Meet and that was the race to win when I was a kid. It brings back a lot of good memories.”
Capps will have another opportunity to win the March Meet as for the second year in a row, he will be driving the “Good News” 1948 Fiat Topolino AA Fuel Altered owned by Hertzig Motorsports and tuned by Bryan Hall. The March Meet is March 5-8.
Capps’ main ride is piloting the NAPA nitro Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing in the NHRA Mello Yello Series.
“Last year when I drove this (altered) at the March Meet it was brand new, but the body is the original Fuel Altered body that Mike Sullivan ran with his famous Fuel Altered back in the day,” Capps said. “It has the original stickers on the firewall on the inside that I can see when I’m in the car from the 1969 Winternationals, 1970 U.S. Nationals and OCIR (Orange County International Raceway) winner’s sticker. It’s pretty bitchin’ that they kept those original stickers.”
Capps, who doesn’t compete in the NHRA Mello Yello Series again until March 12-15 at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla, jumped at the chance to drive the “Good News” AA Fuel Altered again.
“This is the March Meet,” Capps said. “It is still one of my favorite events of the whole year. I go regardless whether I’m driving something or not. The opportunity came up with this car and Don (Schumacher) has always been gracious in letting me go do different types of racing away from drag racing, like dirt racing, and Nostalgia Funny Cars. He always ask to make sure that I get in something that’s built well and is safe. They built this (altered) last year and it has all the updated roll cage padding and safety stuff and they have really good guys working on it.
(Famosa) also is as good as any track that we race on in the Mello Yello Tour. That’s why Del Worsham goes there to test and he’s taken drivers up there to get their licenses. Safety-wise same thing, but it has this way of also taking you back in time, which is really cool.”
Last year, Capps made the eight-car field at the March Meet and was upended in the first round.
“This class (Fuel Altered) has just grown and grown,” Capps said. “We run a 6-flat index and they have almost 20 Fuel Altereds around the country that are in the class now. They have Topolino bodies, T-Bucket bodies, Pure Hell, Pure Heaven, you go down the list of Fuel Altereds and a lot of them are being built and it’s pretty cool. The first time out in that (Altered) last year and to qualify for the field was pretty crazy. That was huge.”
Capps embraces the challenge of driving Nostalgia drag racing cars.
“What I loved about driving Nostalgia Funny Cars and I drove Steve Plueger’s L.A. Hooker and we set the world record twice, the first time I drove it,” Capps said. “There was no computer on the car. He and his crew chief relied on me giving them feedback about the car. You shifted them, so you had to decide when you were going to shift and they had an old-school lever between my legs that you actually pulled to shift and there was very little downforce on the body so they moved around a lot and you really had to drive them.
I drove that and then later Del Worsham and I got together, and I got to drive the Blue Max and it had an even shorter wheelbase. When Del built that it had a 118-inch wheelbase. It was squirrely with no downforce. You have to drive them, and you have to really pay attention and shift them. Then, you have to know to stay on the gas past 1,000 feet. Fuel Altered you take it another step further because you look at that car, there’s no wings, no downforce and they are going 6-flat at over 200 mph. They are a handful. They have a shorter wheelbase, but they are probably the coolest race cars on the planet.”