The inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage to be held Feb. 8-10 at Bradenton Motorsports Park will feature the best of the best, including eight-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher. The winningest driver in the class, Schumacher has seen and done it all, and he’s eager to try something new at this unconventional race.
“We run the NHRA circuit and we love our sport, but every now and then something pops up and gives us the opportunity to do something different,” said Schumacher, driver of the Leatherwood Distillery Top Fuel dragster. “I think it’s awesome. I hope for everyone involved that it works out and we get to do it more often.”
The event will prove to be more valuable than just the $250,000 in prize money as the teams will benefit from three days of testing leading up to qualifying.
“I think we need as many laps as we can make,” Schumacher said. “The more test laps we get to make – and I can’t call a quarter-of-a-million-dollars race a test lap – but any time you put a race car down a racetrack, you’re learning. No matter if you’re on the good side or the bad side, you’re learning what to do and what not to do. That’s an awful lot of money. We’re definitely going to get out before that and make some laps and try to take that money home.”
Schumacher admits the huge payday adds to the usual pressure to win an event, but the iconic Top Fuel driver has shown time and time again that he thrives under pressure.
“We are a better team under pressure,” Schumacher said. “If you look back at the history of my career, the moments we’ve had to sit up in the seat, we’ve always done the best. I’d love to say the money and big payout is the reason we are going down there, but the truth is drag racing has been around since two dudes had cars at the beginning and thought they were going to kick each other’s butt. It has nothing to do with money. It’s a pride thing. We show up because we love drag racing and we love the sport.”
In normal competition, pairings are dictated by qualifying and on-track performance, but for the PRO Superstar Shootout, these decisions will be made by a simple chip draw.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Schumacher said of the chip-draw format. “I think it’s interesting and I think the fans are going to like it. I think some of the drivers are going to like it and some are going to hate it. Trust me, I am known for running second-low of a session and having to run the next round against the guy who ran low E.T., of course, and losing lane choice to the only single car that could beat me! You go out and qualify really well and you think you should have lane choice, but you don’t really know until that morning, do you? To be honest, I don’t care who I race.”
It’s been quite some time since Bradenton Motorsports Park has seen Top Fuel cars go down the track, and many of the invitees have not made a lap there, nor have even been to the track, Schumacher included.
“I hear it’s a cool place to race,” Schumacher said. “I live in Austin, Texas, and it’s going to be cold there. It will be nice to get up there, get some laps in and test somewhere before and then run in early February. It will be beautiful there. I’m going to take my kids down there, maybe my dog, and enjoy the beach for a little while.”
With eight NHRA championship titles under his belt, Schumacher is as well-accomplished as a racer can be. He’s always willing to make room in his trophy case, though, and he has a spot in mind for the first-ever PRO Superstar Shootout title.
“That would be a great one,” Schumacher said. “We won the first Norwalk, the first Charlotte, the first Epping, all these unique places. To go out there and just have another first, I like that because we’re really good under those circumstances.”
The inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by JHG will also feature $250,000-to-win Funny Car and $125,000-to-win Pro Stock, as well as sportsman racing, live music, a vendor village, and more. Tickets are now on sale at https://bit.ly/scagpro. Fans at home can tune in to the official FloRacing livestream at https://flosports.link/3t04gHk.