Jack Beckman will have a Hall-of-Fame look this weekend at the NHRA Southern Nationals near Atlanta when his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car carries a paint scheme honoring team owner Don Schumacher’s induction Thursday into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
The “Don Schumacher Hall of Fame Tribute Car” replicates the look of the Plymouth Funny Car Schumacher campaigned in 1970 when he won the NHRA U.S. Nationals.
“That was my favorite car because it had independent front suspension,” said Schumacher, who won five NHRA event titles as an owner/driver/crew chief between 1970 and 1974. He since has added 198 titles and 11 NHRA world championships as an owner.
Beckman, the reigning NHRA Funny Car champion, will wear a firesuit and helmet that matches the racecar during the Southern Nationals, which is Friday-Sunday at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.
“When I went to my first race when I was seven, Don was one of the toughest Funny Cars in the country at the point,” Beckman recalled. “The car that we are replicating is the one that he won Indy with in 1970. I’ve got lots of magazines from when I was a kid that had photos of that car.
“I’ve always thought that was one of the coolest looking cars out there. It represents a milestone victory for him and with the timing being that DSR just got their 200th race win and his induction I just think it’s awesome. It’s a humbling experience for me to get to pilot that car.”
Joining Schumacher, 68, in the Hall’s Class of 2013 are NASCAR stalwarts Rusty Wallace, Rick Hendrick and Dale Inman.
Schumacher is the 11th member of the drag racing community to be enshrined in the Hall since it opened in 1990 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. He joins drag racing luminaries NHRA founder Wally Parks (1992), Don Garlits (1997), Don Prudhomme (2000), Shirley Muldowney (2004), Bob Glidden and Joe Amato (2005), Warren Johnson (2007), Bill Jenkins (2008), and John Force and Kenny Bernstein (2012).
“This is such a great honor,” Don said. “I was overwhelmed just to be nominated. This is really overwhelming.”
Schumacher is a 2007 inductee into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and is remembered for an unequaled driving record in special events by winning about 70 percent of 560 match races from 1968 to 1974. He also won the 1972 Coca-Cola Cavalcade of Stars Championship for Funny Cars, nine International Hot Rod Association event titles and the 1973 American Hot Rod Association World Championship.
(Photo courtesy NHRA.com/Harold Hinson)