NHRA Drag Racing
Team: NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Sponsors: Troy Lee Designs, Napa Auto Parts, Dodge
- 150 lbs
- San Luis Obispo, CA
- Carlsbad, CA
Ron was going to drag races before he was born.
“I was in my mom's belly at my first race,” he says, adding his mom, Betty, met his dad, John, at a drag race.
Ron cannot remember when he was not going to drag races with his dad whether racing or watching and usually camping at the tracks.
He was 6 years old when he attended “The Last Drag Race” at California’s fabled Lions Drag Strip.
Ron learned to work on racecars with his dad, and graduated to working on the crew of the world championship Top Alcohol Dragster team with the late Blaine Johnson and his brother, Alan Johnson, who remains a legendary Top Fuel crew chief.
“They took me under their wing and taught me a lot of things working on their alcohol car,” Ron says. “That’s kind of how it was; I was a crew member with aspirations to drive. I finally got that shot.”
The “shot” came in 1995 when he drove a Top Fuel dragster owned by Roger Primm. Although the Primm team competed in only a partial 14-race schedule, Ron recorded his first NHRA national event title when he won near Atlanta. That year he also added a runner-up finish and advanced to two quarterfinals.
Capps drove Primm’s car six times in 1996, and his ability caught the eye of Hall of Famer Don “Snake” Prudhomme, who hired Ron to drive a Funny Car full time the following year. With Prudhomme, Ron won 13 event titles.
Ron Capps has enjoyed many memorable seasons competing in NHRA professional drag racing, but none compare to the emotional turns of 2012 while driving Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
Without knowing how Ron’s eighth season with DSR and 18th as a professional driver in the NHRA national touring series began, it would seem to have ended in disappointment when he finished runner-up for the prestigious NHRA Funny Car world championship for the fourth time.
And this time by the closest margin ever, just two points behind DSR teammate Jack Beckman. It was even closer than the previous record of eight points, which Ron set when he finished eight points behind another DSR teammate in 2005.
What Ron will remember most about 2012 is how a crew chief change after the fourth event of the season catapulted him into the championship hunt once veteran Rahn Tobler was moved to his team by owner Don Schumacher in a major reorganization after Ron did not qualify for the event and his crew chief abruptly quit.
From there, Ron and Tobler staged a remarkable comeback over that last 19 events on the 23-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule that included six consecutive championship round appearances, five national event titles in eight championship rounds, three No. 1 qualifying efforts and producing the quickest Funny Car run ever at 3.964 seconds on May 31 at Englishtown, N.J.
After posting a 4-3 elimination-round record through the first four events, the team went on to record a 42-14 record for a season total of 46-17 that was the best in class and best of Ron’s career. His five event titles matched his career bests of 2006 and 2009.
His runner-up finish in the championship race was his best finish since 2005. He also was second in 1998 and 2000.
Although the team fell a couple points short of its ultimate goal of earning the Funny Car world championship, the team returns to 2013 intact with a multiyear contract extension with NAPA AUTO PARTS.
Ron ranks third in career Funny Car event titles with 38 and this season was able to pass the total of Don Prudhomme, who was first to hire Ron to drive for a full season in 1997. Ron also moved up to 13th on the list for most NHRA elimination-round wins.