Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An NHRA Funny Car trophy from fabled Englishtown would be a jewel for drag racing historian Beckman

Jack Beckman is a 315-mph drag racing historian.

As a Funny Car driver, he talks of Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., with reverence.

"I can't imagine any Funny Car driver considering his career complete without a trophy from Englishtown," said Beckman, who won his 13th title two weeks ago in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at Topeka, Kan., for Don Schumacher Racing.

Beckman cites the New Jersey track as being one of the first hotbeds for Funny Cars when the category of stock-looking race cars began to evolve in the late 1960s into what they have become today.

"Englishtown is synonymous with Funny Cars. I can't tell you what it would mean to get a trophy from a track with so much history," said Beckman, who has not advanced to the championship round at the track.

The drag racing factory in Englishtown hosts its 43rd annual NHRA national event this weekend with the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals that opens for Beckman with qualifying on Friday and Saturday before championship eliminations on Sunday.

The first year Funny Cars competed as a separate category at Englishtown was 1971, and the following year the winner was DSR owner Don Schumacher.

Before 1971 and throughout much of the 1970s, most action among Funny Cars were in "match races" and no track east of California did it better than E-Town.

Beckman's win two weeks ago marked the 700th time in NHRA history that a Funny Car winner was crowned as a titlist.

With crew chief Todd Smith, Beckman has moved to fourth in NHRA standings.

This weekend at Englishtown, Beckman will carry the colors of Fair Lawn, N.J., business Sandvik Coromant, the world's leading supplier of cutting tools and tooling solutions for the metalworking industry.

On Wednesday, Beckman will be at Sandvik Coromant with his Funny Car and transporter to have lunch with employees and raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project.

"It's cool to have an outreach program like this for our marketing partners where the employees at a company investing in motorsports sponsorship can connect to that effort," Beckman said.

"They can get up close and touch 'their' car and ask me whatever they want."

Beckman, a cancer survivor, is a former sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. He has a strong desire to give back to communities that have affected his life and Sandvik Coromant is helping. 

"We see this as a great opportunity to thank Jack Beckman for making the trip and representing us in the driver's seat, so Sandvik will be making a donation in his name to his charity of choice, the Wounded Warriors Project," said John Israelsson, Sandvik Coromant president of Market Area Americas.

Beckman added, "For us to be able to make this connection and involve a fund-raiser to help the Wounded Warrior Project immediately put us all on the same page."

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