Bob Tasca’s Real Nitro Circus Ride
Bob Tasca III could be the most well rounded Mustang drag racer and Ford fanatic out there. He pilots a 8,000 horsepower Mustang Nitro Funny Car on the weekends, finds time to shakedown a 2008 Mustang Cobra Jet and his daily driver is a 2010 Mustang. We talked to the ultimate Mustang racer not named Force – for an exclusive interview with StangTV:
For a brief history primer, Bob’s grandfather, Bob Tasca Sr. was a legend in Ford Racing history. In the 1960’s, he and his dealer mechanics helped develop the Cobra Jet engine and gave it to Ford on a silver platter. The Cobra Jet engine option would go on the change the wimpy Mustang into a muscle car contender. Tasca Sr. went on to campaign a ’68 Super Stock Cobra Jet and Mustang Funny Car with driver Bill Lawton at the wheel. You could say Bob Tasca III was destined to drive some type of fast Ford and win.
The original Tasca Funny Car driven by Bill Lawton, Photo Credit: Ford
After a stint in a street-legal nine second fox-bodied Mustang, Tasca attended the Roy Hill Drag Racing School and earned a Pro Stock license. After a few years of racing the Mustang locally he stepped up to Frank Hawley’s Alcohol Funny Car School and earned his NHRA Alcohol license. For several years, Tasca battled Frank Manzo and the other NHRA Alcohol Funny Car teams with much success.
Tasca and team in victory lane at the Gatornationals in Gainsville
In 2007, Tasca made the move into the NHRA Nitro Funny Car class. With help from Motorcraft and Ford, he put together a nitro team in four short months. “That’s what I do, I drive Mustangs”, said Tasca in a recent interview. “I drive them on the track and off the track, for the last two and a half years it’s been an incredible ride.”
30 percent of his job is on the track racing but the other 70 percent is spent running the team, Ford dealership in Rhode Island and the Motorcraft / Quicklane dealer training program. Top Fuel Funny Car has been the ultimate challenge for Tasca. Other than Matt Hagan, Tasca is the least experienced full time driver on the NHRA tour. He knows he has a lot to learn but the first win in Gainesville earlier this year meant a lot to the program.
Tasca admits the team has struggled lately with different tune-ups but looks to rebound in the warm weather events starting in June. “People ask why we did so well in Gainesville and have only gone two rounds since then. Well, the truth is its just tough to do. Look at John Force, his program has only one win, my program only has one win. What we do is never guaranteed,” Tasca said.
Tasca’s main goal is to put his team in a position to win every weekend and he is looking forward to running on some of the hotter racetracks where the team performed well at last year.
Tasca after his first NHRA Funny Car event win
New for 2009 is a Tasca Racing shop in Charlotte North Carolina. After having the team run the 2008 program out of a suitcase and trailer, Tasca and crew chief Chris Cunningham built a shop smack dab in the middle of NASCAR country. In March, they moved into the new facilities and are working on a blower dyno and other testing equipment. “It’s amazing. I’ve been around it for several years with John Force Racing. The level of detail and the logistical aspects of our program is challenging. Every race no matter how challenging it is you learn something that makes things better at the next race.”
When asked about the challenging economic times being a Ford dealer and racer, Tasca replied. “My grandfather coined the phrase ‘Win on Sunday Sell on Monday,’ thats absolutely why I have the Motorcraft program today. When we went into this program a major part of this deal was selling Motorcraft and Quicklane. The credibility factor of being a Ford dealer goes a long way. When I speak to a dealer about what we are doing at the dealership, its legit. We have as much Q&A about what is going on at the dealership than we do about what it feels like to go 300 mph. That’s very satisfying and fulfilling and I value that as much as the racecar. I whole hardly believe that post recession racing is going to be about return on investment to the sponsor. It’s not good enough to win or be competitive its how we go to market with racing.”
Tasca’s 8,000 horsepower nitro funny car
Tasca’s race weekends are not entirely focused on racing the Funny Car. Mixed into qualifying sessions and warm-up Tasca motivates Ford dealer personnel on the Motorcraft and Quicklane program.
“NHRA gives us a great platform. On Friday we have the Quicklane dealers out and we do prospecting and training. On Saturday we have Motorcraft distributors and customers out and it more motivational and on Sunday distributors and dealers invite their customers and employees out. We leverage all aspects that NHRA gives us. Then throw in the Motorcraft display for the fans and its very comprehensive. And at the end of the day we give Ford a great bang for their dollar. “
Tasca’s 2008 Cobra Jet Mustang in “throwback graphics” ready to do battle.
As the 1968 Cobra Jet’s founding family and consultant for Ford Racing’s 2008 FR500CJ edition, Tasca’s dealership took delivery of a car in February. In testing at ZMax dragway, Bob ran a 9.88 et at 140 mph. Plans are for Bob’s uncle Carl Tasca to race the car in NHRA’s Division 1 and at other tracks. “My uncle Carl calls it a time capsule. When he is in the car nothing else matters but driving and going for a win light,” recalled Bob.
“For Carl it’s kind of a time warp going back to when my grandfather raced, the Cobra Jet, the Fairlanes and the Mystery 7 funny car. He is going to get his Super Gas license and do some racing. I don’t know how crazy he’ll get, its just fun to be a part of the program. The 50 cars showcased the best powertrain that Ford Racing has to offer in the 21st century. We take it very seriously, we’re going to have a fast Cobra Jet if not one of the fastest out there. We’ll see what Uncle Carl wants to do with it.”