NHRA: After 18-plus years, Tony ‘The Sarge’ Schumacher salutes U.S. Army one last time


After more than 18 years of service to the U.S. Army, “The Sarge” has ended his tour of duty, so to speak.

Sunday’s season-ending Auto Club Finals was the final race of nearly a two-decade sponsorship by the Army of NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher.

Since debuting with the Army colors on his dragster at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in August 2000, Schumacher – nicknamed “The Sarge” for his military-style crew cut and drill sergeant-like leadership within his team as well as in the sport – earned seven of his record eight Top Fuel championships, 80 of his 84 career national event wins and 748 round wins.

In their 427th and final race together, Schumacher took the Army out in style Sunday, reaching the final round before falling to newly crowned Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence. In addition to his seven titles carrying the Army banner, Sunday also marked the second time Schumacher finished runner-up in the season standings as well (the other time was 2015).

After nearly 19 years, Tony Schumacher makes his final run for the U.S. Army in Sunday’s season-ending Auto Club Finals in Pomona, California. (Photo: Don Schumacher Racing)


The Army’s sponsorship was one of the longest and most noteworthy in NHRA history, serving as a platform that recruited countless thousands of soldiers. Unfortunately, the military branch decided several months ago that it would be ending its primary sponsorship of Schumacher, as well as associate sponsorship of teammates Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett, at the end of the now-completed season.

MORE: NHRA stunner: U.S. Army to end sponsorship of Don Schumacher Racing, NHRA after this season

To his credit, Schumacher played the part of “The Sarge” to the hilt. He looked like a drill instructor and took part in countless Army-related activities in his career.

Once “The Sarge,” always “The Sarge” for Tony Schumacher. (Photo: NHRA, 2015).

“I’ve been to Afghanistan and Iraq, jumped out of planes, I’ve driven tanks, been to the hospitals, I’ve done all the weapons training and basic training,” Schumacher said. “With the exception of going into combat, I really feel that’s been part of me.”

While some speculated that the Army’s departure might also mean Schumacher’s retirement (he turns 49 on Christmas Day), that can’t be further from the truth.

In fact, Schumacher told NBC Sports over the weekend that he plans on racing for many more years to come.

“I guess we’ll drive for another 10 years,” he said. “I’ve always said 10 years is a good number, it’s high, it’s long, it’s even. It’s perfect.

“I’ll just keep going 10 years and every year we’ll add a few more to it. I figure this: some day I will realize there might be something else for me, but right now I can’t fathom a desk job or doing something else.

“I wake up every morning and I love doing what I do. Over 200 speeches a year for the Army, over 19 years, I’ve said it so many times: find what you love; it’s the only way to be great at what you do.”

Where Schumacher goes from here in terms of sponsorship remains to be seen. The team he races for, Don Schumacher Racing, owned by Tony’s father, is actively searching for a replacement to fill the Army’s shoes.

“I think effectively after 19 years, there’s an opening for a world champ team, a really qualified world champion,” Tony Schumacher said. “We’re always in the battle at the end.

“And I think there’s a lot of people out there watching and saying this is a team that’s potentially a great team to jump on board, it’s just never been available in almost two decades.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. When I was younger and my kids were young, I said I’d retire when they were playing baseball. Well, they’re through with baseball and love racing, and so I’m just happy to be doing what I wake up every day wanting to do and being very successful at it and looking forward to the next chapter of my (life and) sponsorship.”


A lifetime of memories to look back upon

One thing that will never change in Schumacher’s mindset is memories of the thousands of soldiers he met during his tenure representing the Army.

“I think if you could go back 19 years to Sonoma, California, when I shaved my head because I knew the Army was looking at several teams and was going to make a decision in the next few days, I could never have imagined how many people I’d meet, how impactful they’d be, how our team would be affected by them,” Schumacher said. “I know everyone says the partnership is ending, but the funny thing about soldiers is the name may not be on the car, but once you’re part of a group like that, it just doesn’t end, you’re always there. We’ve built some forever-lasting relationships.”

And even though he may let his hair grow a little longer now – but hopefully, not return to the mullet he used to wear in his pre-Army days – Schumacher will always be known as “The Sarge.”

“I think I did a really exceptional job being The Sarge, I wanted to be and fit that role correctly, and I really felt for a long time that I was as much a part of it as anyone there,” Schumacher said. “That was a gift for me, to have seen it from so deep within and to have felt like I was such a part of it, was just awesome.

“There’s a Marine term, Semper Fi, that means ‘always faithful’. No matter what branch you drive for, it’s the truth, a good hard fact.

“Once you’re embedded in the military, it’s not just the colors, but it’s the people. That’s what you get embedded in. You understand there’s a way of life, there’s a dignity, there’s a bunch of core values and once you’re that person, you’re that person.

“No matter what they call me or what colors are on the side of the car, they’ll know we have a stout loyalty and a great team effort that we’ve formed over 19 years and have built that person, built a better man than I was before, a more successful family man, a more successful driver, a more successful teammate. I’ll always be that guy, no matter what the nickname may be.”

Tony Schumacher — and his mullet — in his pre-Army days. (Photo courtesy Don Schumacher Racing)

And as for the potential of bringing the mullet back?

“I look at pictures of when my hair was long before and I can’t believe I didn’t get my butt kicked every day,” Schumacher said with a hearty laugh. “It was a terrible haircut. Maybe I will, but it’s going to be different than it was. I can’t believe I had friends back then.

“My girlfriend makes fun of me every day and says, ‘What, are you going to do, become a hippie?’ You know, we live in Austin (Texas). … I don’t know what look I’ll have to morph into. We’ll see.”

Returning to a more serious thought, of his lengthy service to the Army, Schumacher said it’s the soldiers that most inspired him.

“Over 19 years, the amount of friendships that we’ve meant to each other, the team building we’ve done, the Army car and the pride of our success and the military and what they’ve done, the strengths they’ve taught us, that’s the most important thing people have to recognize,” he said. “My nine guys have changed over the years, we’ve had a couple sets of nine guys and they’ve always learned to build a set of values they may not have had before.

“People keep asking about how we keep winning with a new team, and it’s about the soldiers. We get to look at them and the inspiration we’ve gotten from them. And hopefully, over the 19 years we’ve provided them with some too.”

But one memory, in particular, stands out, otherwise known simply as “The Run” (video below), when Schumacher pulled off what many consider to be the greatest comeback in NHRA drag racing history.

“I remember back in 2006, sitting on my roll cage, about to get in the car for the greatest run in the history of the sport, and I heard from a recruiter standing next to me that there was a helicopter in Baghdad circling around, waiting to hear if we had pulled off the greatest run,” Schumacher said. “To know we were that connected that far away and were that important at that given moment to that helicopter is something that will stick with me forever.”


Now that his ‘enlistment’ is up, where does Schumacher go from here?

Now comes the next chapter of Schumacher’s career. You might call it civilian life of sorts. But no matter who his new sponsor is, Schumacher will never forget what the Army has meant to him and what he’s meant to the Army.

“I’ll tell you this: no matter what (sponsor) name will be on the side of the car, I’ll go at it 100 percent,” he said. “I think we all know that.

“We’ve seen it, people don’t change their colors. I think our effort and our energy that we put into being The Sarge – and I call that the whole team – it was the backbone of the Army, the enlisted soldier, is what that car represented and what I represented.

“Whatever is on our car in the future, we’ll give it our all – mullet hair (if need be) and all.”

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Motocross 2023: Results and points after season opener at Fox Raceway


It was not the first time it has been done, but a rider winning in his Motocross debut is rare as the results show Jett Lawrence swept the motos at Fox Raceway in Pala, California and took the early points lead.

Dylan Ferrandis may not be quite 100 percent yet, but he was good enough to finish on the podium at Fox Raceway – Align Media

Lawrence became the 16th rider to win in his Motocross debut and was the 10th rider to do so in the season opener, At 19, he wasn’t the youngest to perform the feat; Rick Johnson was 17 in 1982 when he won the lidlifter at Hangtown, the site of next week’s race, but Lawrence’s inaugural win bodes well. The last time a rider performed this feat, Dylan Ferrandis went on to win the 2021 Motocross championship as a rookie in 2021.

Ferrandis did not sweep the motos that season while Lawrence’s performance on Saturday was perfect. He paced both practice sessions, earned the holeshot in each race and finished first in both motos after leading every lap to score maximum points. Lawrence started the weekend needing 85 points to climb into 20th in the combined SuperMotocross standings for the 450 class. Earning 50 with his perfect Motocross results at Fox Raceway, he is nearly 60 percent of the way to his goal.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Results; Click here for 250 Results

Chase Sexton was second across the board. He qualified in the second position and finished 2-2 in his motos. In the first race, he was a relatively distant runner-up behind Lawrence, crossing the finish line a little more than 10 seconds ahead. He got a great start in Moto 2 and pushed Lawrence for the entire race, never getting further back than three seconds. He tried to pressure Lawrence into making a mistake, but both riders hardly put a wheel wrong and they finished within a second of one another.

Returning from a concussion suffered in the Houston Supercross race earlier this season and exacerbated at Daytona, Ferrandis finished third in both motos to take third overall. His most important task at hand this week was to avoid trouble and start the Motocross season healthy at Fox Raceway so he can begin to accumulate strong results and move up in SuperMotocross points.

Ferrandis entered this round 25th in the standings and left Pala in 19th. With that position, he has an automatic invitation to the feature starting grid in the SuperMotocross World Championship as long as he does not fall back.

Click here for 450 Moto 1 [Lap Chart] | Moto 2 [Lap Chart] | Consolation Race

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb both ended the race with 34 points, but Plessinger had the tiebreaker with a better finish in the second race. Notably, both riders sustained injury sometime during the season, but Plessinger had an advantage by coming back a week sooner in Salt Lak City for the Supercross finale. He finished second in that race.

Webb was cleared late in the week by doctors after being on concussion protocol from a vicious strike to his helmet in a Nashville Supercross heat race late in the season. He made a beeline to the track to run the Motocross opener. After missing last year’s outdoor season, he wanted to make certain that did not happen again. He still has a solid opportunity to catch Sexton for the No. 1 overall seed in the SuperMotocross standings., but he will need to make up 78 points.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

For the first time in history, Pro Motocross results from Fox Raceway show brothers as winners on the same day.

Battling a rib injury suffered practicing earlier in the week, Hunter Lawrence got a poor start to Moto 1 and had to overcome his 10th-place standing at the end of Lap 1. He methodically worked his way toward the front but might have settled for a position off the podium if not for heavy traffic in the closing laps. Lawrence was able to get through the field quicker than Justin Cooper and Jo Shimoda to finish third.

Hunter Lawrence overcame sore ribs to score the overall 250 win at Fox Raceway – Align Media

Lawrence’s second moto was much stronger. He earned the holeshot and led all 15 laps of the race to win by a more than eight seconds.

Haiden Deegan didn’t feel any pressure heading into this round. No one expected much in his third Motocross National and he would have been happy with anything in the top five. At least that’s what he said in the post-race news conference. Deegan said similar things after finishing fourth in his first Supercross race this season. In a stacked field of 40 riders at Fox Raceway, “Danger Boy” finished sixth in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2 for the second-place finish overall.

Click here for 250 Moto 1 [Lap Chart] | Moto 2 [Lap Chart] | Consolation Race

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan finished second overall. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire had an eventful weekend. He dominated Moto 1 and won by a healthy margin, making a statement about how he will race now that Jett Lawrence is no longer in the field. He was a victim of mayhem in Turn 2 of Moto 2, which forced him to the ground. Another crash on an uphill portion of the track later that same lap put him in 39th. Hampshire salvaged as many points as he could and finished 11th in the second race to stand on the final box of the podium.

Tom Vialle came within a lap of scoring his first career podium. He had the position based on a tiebreaker over Justin Cooper and Maximus Vohland until Hampshire passed two riders on the final lap and earned one point more than that threesome. Instead, Vialle settled for his first podium in an individual moto with a 7-3 in the two races. More accustomed to this style of racing, Vialle will be a factor in the coming rounds.

Click here for 250 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Cooper finished with a 5-4 in the two motos to sweep the top five and take fourth-place overall. Cooper started five rounds in the 450 class in Supercross this season and none on a 250, so he is starting with zero points in the SuperMotocross seeding, but with runs like this it won’t take long to make up the 89 he needs to climb to 20th.

One of the best performances of the weekend was put in by Vohland. He finished second in Moto 1 and had to withstand pressure from Lawrence in the closing lap. A poor start of 16th in the second race forced him to play catchup and he could only climb to ninth at the checkers.

2023 Supercross Results

Round 17: Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence win
Round 16: Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire win
Round 15: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 14: Justin Barcia, Max Anstie win
Round 13: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 12: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Eli Tomac, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 16: Chase Sexton takes SX title
Week 15: Eli Tomac is back on top
Week 14: Justin Barcia, most of top 20, hold steady
Week 13: Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three
Week 12: Eli Tomac gains momentum
Week 11: Cooper Webb, Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
Week 10: Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Sexton unseats Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s