Written by Adrian Beecher
Fresh off his 2018 World Championship in the NHRA Funny Car Series, J.R. Todd looks to keep the momentum rolling as he heads into the 50th Annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gator Nationals.
“That’s one of our biggest races of the year. There are two or three races you look forward to and really want to win all season long and that’s one of them. It’s the first big race on the east coast, just a lot of history at that event.”, explains Todd, “And this being the 50th anniversary of the race, it’s just going to be a pretty special event. To be able to add that to the list of races you’ve won would be a pretty good accomplishment for sure!”
Currently Todd sits 6th in the points, tied with legendary driver John Force. Ironically enough, Todd’s goal for the season is to win back-to-back funny car titles, something that hasn’t been done since 2002, with Force being the one to do it.
“That would be huge man! Like I said, no one’s done it since Force has. And to be able to add your name to a list of guys like that, that’s kind of legendary!”
However, he’s not loosing focus on what’s at stake this weekend as he takes the season one race at a time. Last season, he won a career best 6 races as he claimed his first career funny car World Champ title.
Being the defending champ has its benefits and it’s setback. Having the number one on your car means that everyone has their eye on your waiting to strip that title away.
“I mean, when you’ve got the number one on the side, you definitely have a target there.” says Todd.
However, he also expresses that despite being the champ, he feels that others are gaining a lot more attention than him.
“I don’t think that we are overlooked. But there are definitely some other teams that still get a little more attention and praise then we do.”
With that being said, when the eyes are off of you, sometimes it provides less distractions and pressure. Todd is adamant that it wouldn’t bother him at all if his team flew under the radar all season.
“If we could fly under the radar with that number one on the car that’d be fine with me. It’s cool to be able to say your the World champ and we are going to try to keep the number one on the side of the car going into next year.”
This season he has yet to pull into victory Lane, but is confident going into Gator Nationals as they bring their car with a bit of a new look.
“We’re bringing out a new chassis this weekend that we haven’t run yet, so this will be the first race on it. So it’d be pretty awesome to be able to put it in the winners circle the first race out.” says Todd.
Victory or not though, one thing is for certain about Todd this weekend, he will strap into his 11,000+ horsepower machine and be living out his dream, doing the one thing in this world that gives him the most adrenaline he has ever experienced, something he can only imaginatively compare to the likes of a fighter jet.
“It’s a huge adrenaline rush. I haven’t found anything that compares to stepping on the gas in a nitro funny car. You’re talking 11,000 horsepower and it goes 0-100 miles an hour in 0.8 of a second. That’s within 60 feet, they are the quickest and fastest accelerating cars on the planet. The only thing I would say that can compare would be a fighter jet taking off. That’s something I haven’t done, but I’d like to take a ride in one just to see how it compares with the G-forces there. There’s a lot going on in a run, 3.8 seconds at 330+ seconds, it’s the ultimate thrill ride for sure!”
(Image Courtesy Toyota Racing)