To a casual drag racing fan, J.R. Todd
came out of nowhere.
"For a rookie to win two races in the first year is pretty remarkable," said Todd
, who beat Schumacher again two weeks later at Sonoma, Calif. "We planned to run only 14 or 15 races because we didn't have funding.
Like many of his
driving peers in the top-tier NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series, Todd
spent many years working his
way up the ladder.He's
the son of a racer Mario Todd drove motorcycles on flat tracks, and when his
10-year-old son expressed an interest in following his
footsteps, Mario steered him toward drag racing.
Mario's full-time employer, a construction company, sponsored dragsters and provided similar assistance.The run in the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League
lasted from 1993-98.
got pretty banged up racing motorcycles," J.R. Todd
said of his
then returned to the NHRA in 2003 as a member of Bob Gilbertson's
Funny Car pit crew.
That job, Todd
said, helped prepare him for his
"I learned a lot of the mechanical side, how cars work and are put together," Todd
said."I didn't know a lot, and now I have a lot of respect for the car."
Coming into this weekend's Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, Todd
is in 12th place in Top Fuel points, 115 out of the top 10.He's
also a serious candidate for NHRA Rookie of the Year.
In the competitive world of race funding, Todd
could go into 2007 with an advantage.
"For sure, these things run on dollars, and we're running on deals for next season," Todd