WILL TONY SCHUMACHER RETURN FOR U.S. NATIONALS?
Sources within the Don Schumacher Racing organization have insisted that they’re confident currently sidelined eight-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher will land a marketing partner, although after his 12-race absence nobody is predicting when that might happen.
But Tony Schumacher fans might have some hope of seeing their hero race again before the season is out, according to none other than his team owner dad.
Don Schumacher told Autoweek Motorsports Editor Mike Pryson during the recent national event at Norwalk, Ohio, that he wasn’t fond of the idea to put Tony back on track in any one-race sponsorship arrangements but that he would consider an exception for the Labor Day weekend Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis.
“If somebody stepped up, yeah, I would. I’d love to do the same thing we did with the U.S. Army the first race they came aboard in 2000: win the U.S. Nationals,” Don Schumacher said.
He told Pryson he thinks the U.S. Army, Tony Schumacher’s sponsor for a tremendously successful 19 years, will return someday to drag racing. He didn’t predict when he thought that might happen, but he stressed the value the Top Fuel team added to Army recruiting efforts.
“The recruits, the young people, are out there. It was our job to get the Army leads. It wasn’t our job to get people to join the Army. It was our job to get them leads, and then it was up to the recruiters to turn the leads into people joining the Army,” the team owner said.
“We had very short notice from the Army that they were leaving,” Don Schumacher said. “They notified us the first of August last year or maybe it was late July, that they weren’t returning. The week prior to that, it was, ‘Yep, we’re coming back. Everything is good.' They didn’t leave because of Tony or the team or because the NHRA wasn’t doing a fantastic job for them. It was an upper-management situation at their advertising and marketing agency that they got crossways, and the Army decided to replace everything.”
He told Pryson, “I believe in the long run, they will be back in the NHRA. How many years that will take, I don’t know.”
But he said without hesitation, “Tony is Mr. Army. Still is."