Photos: Richard Shute/Auto Imagery

Don Schumacher to join Tony Stewart, Dario Franchitti, others in Motorsports Hall

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Don Schumacher has built the most successful organization in NHRA drag racing history, a seven-team behemoth that has earned 334 national event wins and 17 national championships in either Top Fuel or Funny Car.

Now, the man who is the figurehead for the organization but humbly likes to stay in the shadows while letting the success of his drivers and teams do his talking for him, will take his well-deserved place among the greatest names of motorsports.

Schumacher, 74, will be one of seven individuals inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on Tuesday, March 12, at The Shores Resort in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, just a quick burnout from Daytona International Speedway.

Joining Schumacher will be NASCAR legend Tony Stewart, IndyCar great Dario Franchitti, motorsports pioneer Augie Duesenberg, motorcyclist Kevin Schwantz, sports car ace Phil Remington and at-large selection Linda “Miss Hurst Shifter” Vaughn.

It is a very humbling experience,” Schumacher said of his pending induction. “This is not something that I ever imagined being a part of.

“To be inducted into America’s Motorsports Hall of Fame with the Andretti’s and Foyt’s and Earnhardt and Garlits, and John Force and Jeff Gordon and on and on, these are the heroes of motorsports, and for my name to somehow be included in that is really a humbling, overwhelming experience for me.”

Schumacher was one of the most successful drag racers of his era in the 1960s and into the 1970s before stepping away from the sport to build a worldwide electronics company that employs over 2,000. He stayed away from drag racing for nearly a quarter-century before getting back into the game in 1998 with the formation of Don Schumacher Racing.

The next 20-plus years has been historic, including his own son, Tony Schumacher, becoming the most successful driver in Top Fuel racing history with eight championships and over 80 national event wins.

“It is really an honor to be able to represent NHRA Drag Racing in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America,” Schumacher said. “It allows me to represent the sport that I love and have been involved in for decades.

“I respect the sport and what it has accomplished for America, but also for my family. It’s a very, very rewarding experience to be able to be out there and represent NHRA Drag Racing.”

Funny car driver and former NHRA champion Ron Capps, who has the second-longest tenure among all DSR drivers, calls his boss’s induction “fantastic.”

“Being able to work for him and drive for him since 2005, I can tell you that he attacks his team ownership like he did as a racer,” Capps said of Schumacher. “If you look back at his driving career in the late 1960s and early 70s, he was an innovator.

“He was one of the first to have a multi-car team. He was one of the first to bring large corporate sponsors to drag racing and the championships he has as a team owner for Don Schumacher Racing tells you that he wakes up in the morning and still has that passion like he did when he was in the cockpit.”

Schumacher will be presented for induction by one of his drivers, Funny Car pilot “Fast Jack” Beckman, who has the third-longest tenure with DSR behind Tony Schumacher and Capps.

“I was beyond honored for my boss, and one of the baddest drivers in the country the first year I attended a drag race, to ask me to induct him,” Beckman said of Schumacher. “Of all the high level friends and fellow racing legends that he could have asked, I’m really not sure why he picked me. My tux is packed, I’ll work on a short speech, and I can’t wait to bring Don up on stage to make it official!”

Don Schumacher secured Funny Car victory No. 150 as a team owner two weeks ago at Phoenix, Arizona, when Matt Hagan captured the win. Schumacher will be looking for another win or two in Top Fuel and Funny Car later in the same week as his induction with the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida, March 15-17.

The key to success to accomplish this is the hard work of my teams on all aspects,” Schumacher said. “From the guys that change the oil to the guys that do the bottom end, to the crew chiefs, to the drivers, to my management team; the people at the machine shop and the fab shop in Brownsburg (Indiana), everybody plays a part and works so hard and does such a phenomenal job.

“The fact that we have accomplished this is beyond belief for me. I got into the sport of NHRA Drag Racing back in the early 1960s. I never imagined winning any event, no less 334 events and multiple championships. It’s an overwhelming accomplishment that my people have accomplished for me and I’m the one being honored (referring to the HOF induction), but I have to tip my hat to all of my Don Schumacher Racing and Don Schumacher Motorsports employees.”

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Indy Lights: Askew clinches 2019 title while VeeKay wins Laguna Seca race 1

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MONTEREY, Calif – Rinus VeeKay may have won the first race of the weekend’s Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday afternoon, but all all eyes post-race were all on the driver who finished the race in the fourth position.

That driver was Oliver Askew, who by simply starting the 30-lap event at the famed road course won the 2019 series title, along with the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series scholarship that guarantees a minimum of three races next season.

“It’s all sinking in,” Askew told NBC Sports following the race. “I’m really happy to be part of this team. They’re back to back champions now in Indy Lights, and I feel very fortunate to be driving in this car this year.

“This is what we worked for all year. I’m very happy to be in this position and I can’t wait to celebrate with my team.”

With the championship in Askew’s possession from the get-go, the best VeeKay could do for in race 1 was to win in dominant fashion. He went on to do just so.

After starting the race from the pole position, VeeKay led every lap from start to finish en route to his fifth victory of the season.

“We managed the car well and kept the car consistent throughout the whole race,” VeeKay said. “I got a great car from the team so I want to give a big shout out to them for giving me a winning car.”

Behind VeeKay, Portland race 2 winner Toby Sowery finished the race in the second position, while Robert Megennis finished third.

Live streaming coverage of race two of the Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca begins tomorrow afternoon at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full race results

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