Tony Schumacher Returning Full Time to NHRA Top Fuel Class

·3 min read
Photo credit: Richard H Shute
Photo credit: Richard H Shute

Tony Schumacher is back in the NHRA Top Fuel class with a full-time ride in 2022.

The eight-time NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Top Fuel champion and Don Schumacher Racing unveiled a new sponsorship deal on Thursday that will allow Tony to return to a a full-time schedule in the class in 2022. Schumacher, who turns 52 on Christmas Day, last drove a full-time schedule in 2018.

In addition, Todd Okuhara, currently the crew chief for DSR Top Fuel racer Leah Pruett, will move to Tony Schumacher's crew in 2022. Okuhara has been in the DSR fold since 2015.

The problem of lack of a sponsor has been solved thanks to a commitment from the Maynard Family. The big racing boosters were an associate sponsor in 2021.

“Joe and Cathi Maynard joined our team at the beginning of 2021, and have proven to be tremendous partners,” team owner Don Schumacher said. “We couldn’t be more pleased that they have decided to grow with our team into a larger role, and we look forward to continuing to make them proud.

“We’re thrilled to have Tony return to full-time competition next year aboard The Maynard Family Top Fuel dragster. Tony and Todd Okuhara are two of the most dominant players in our sport, and I liken this alliance to two powerhouses teaming up. I have no doubt the Tony-Todd combo will find success early on in their 2022 campaign.

DSR is the sport's winningest team, with 366 victories to its credit.

After an incredible 19-year run driving the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster,

Tony Schumacher's previous run with DSR ended after the 2018 season when longtime sponsor, the U.S. Army, pulled out of motorsport. While Tony and DSR worked to secure full sponsorship, the eight-time champ did run a partial schedule at the end of the 2020 season. Tony even won at Bayton, Texas, for career win No. 85. That win came in just his seventh race after a layoff of a year and a half.

“I wasn’t interested in just doing a few one-offs here and there,” Tony said. “I wanted to be in a situation where I could compete for a championship. 2020 was an exception of course, and returning to the seat for that eight-race stint made me realize how much I truly, truly missed being out here and driving a 330-mile-per-hour Top Fuel machine. Drag racing is in my blood; it’s who I am, and I’m incredibly pumped I get to suit back up and race for a championship in 2022.”

Photo credit: NRHA/National Dragster
Photo credit: NRHA/National Dragster

The Maynards come for a military background and became Tony Schumacher fans through his Army sponsorship.

“Cathi and I have been avid NHRA fans for many years, and as Army veterans, Tony Schumacher in the U.S. Army dragster was always our favorite and ignited our passion for drag racing,” said Joe Maynard who retired from the Army in 1994, while wife Cathi served the country as a Military Policewoman and Department of the Army Civilian from 1976 to 1994. “When we first became involved with DSR last year, our initial discussions centered around bringing Tony back in a full-time capacity, and we’ve been working toward that goal ever since. We’re so excited that we get to be a major part of his return and can’t wait to see him get back to his winning ways.”

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