• Date of birth: June 20, 1965
• Hometown: San Luis Obispo, Calif.
• Residence: Carlsbad, Calif.
• Wife: Shelley
• Daughter: Taylor
• Son: Caden
• Height/weight: 5-foot-8, 150 pounds
• Hobbies: Computer racing games, racquetball and golf
• Brother Jon Capps of Las Vegas is a part-time Funny Car driver in NHRA
• Category: NHRA Funny Car
• Sponsor/car: NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
• Crew chief: Rahn Tobler
• Career best points finish: 2nd (1998, 2000, 2005, 2012)
• Career event titles: 38 (Top Fuel: 1; Funny Car: 37)
• Career final rounds: 77 (TF: 2; FC: 75)
• Career No. 1 qualifying positions: 14
• Career best elapsed time: 3.964 seconds (quickest ever)
• Career best speed: 320.89 mph
• On the Internet: twitter.com/NapaRonCapps, facebook.com/RonCappsFC, NAPAonline.com, ShoeRacing.com
Ron Capps has enjoyed many memorable seasons competing in NHRA professional drag racing, but none compare to the emotional turns of 2012 while driving Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
Without knowing how Ron’s eighth season with DSR and 18th as a professional driver in the NHRA national touring series began, it would seem to have ended in disappointment when he finished runner-up for the prestigious NHRA Funny Car world championship for the fourth time.
And this time by the closest margin ever, just two points behind DSR teammate Jack Beckman. It was even closer than the previous record of eight points, which Ron set when he finished eight points behind another DSR teammate in 2005.
What Ron will remember most about 2012, however, is how a crew chief change after the fourth event of the season catapulted him into the championship hunt when veteran Rahn Tobler was moved to his team by owner Don Schumacher in a major reorganization after Ron did not qualify for the event and his crew chief abruptly quit.
From there, Ron and Tobler staged a remarkable comeback over that last 19 events on the 23-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule that included six consecutive championship round appearances, five national event titles in eight championship rounds, three No. 1 qualifying efforts and producing the quickest Funny Car run ever at 3.964 seconds on May 31 at Englishtown, N.J.
After posting a 4-3 elimination-round record through the first four events, the team went on to record a 42-14 record for a season total of 46-17 that was the best in class and best of Ron’s career. His five event titles matched his career bests of 2006 and 2009.
His runner-up finish in the championship race was his best finish since 2005. Although the team fell a couple points short of its ultimate goal of earning the Funny Car world championship, the team returns to 2013 intact with a multiyear contract extension with NAPA AUTO PARTS.
Ron ranks third in career Funny Car event titles with 38 and in 2012 season was able to pass the total of Don “Snake” Prudhomme, who was first to hire Ron to drive for a full season in 1997. Ron also moved up to 13th on the list for most NHRA elimination-round wins.
Ron was going to drag races before he was born.
“I was in my mom's belly at my first race,” he says, adding his mom, Betty, met his dad, John, at a drag race.
Ron cannot remember when he was not going to drag races with his dad whether racing or watching and usually camping at the tracks.
He was 6 years old when he attended “The Last Drag Race” at California’s fabled Lions Drag Strip.
Ron learned to work on racecars with his dad, and graduated to working on the crew of the world championship Top Alcohol Dragster team with the late Blaine Johnson and his brother, Alan Johnson, who remains a legendary Top Fuel crew chief.
“They took me under their wing and taught me a lot of things working on their alcohol car,” Ron says. “That’s kind of how it was; I was a crew member with aspirations to drive. I finally got that shot.”
The “shot” came in 1995 when he drove a Top Fuel dragster owned by Roger Primm.
Although the Primm team competed in only a partial 14-race schedule, Ron recorded his first NHRA national event title when he won near Atlanta. That year he also added a runner-up finish and advanced to two quarterfinals.
Ron drove Primm’s car six times in 1996, and his ability caught the eye of Hall of Famer Don “Snake” Prudhomme, who hired Ron to drive a Funny Car full time the following year. With Prudhomme, Ron won 13 event titles.
In 2005, Ron moved from Prudhomme’s team to join the growing organization of Don Schumacher Racing. Ron’s first three years with DSR, his Dodge was sponsored by popular cologne Brut, and in 2008 was replaced by another iconic and nationally known corporation, NAPA AUTO PARTS, which signed a multiyear contract extension toward the end of 2012 with Ron and DSR.
Drag racing clearly is Ron’s passion and vocation, but he’ll race anything from Sprint cars on dirt to go-karts. When he can’t get to a track, he satiates his need for speed with various virtual computer games.
His most notable annual oval track race is Tony Stewart’s “Prelude to the Dream” late-model stock-car event each summer at Eldora Speedway in Ohio.
Ron was an athlete at San Luis Obispo High School where he lettered three years in football as a slot back and wide receiver, and four years as a wrestler. He also competed in Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling for a couple of years with USA Wrestling California.
He studied computer software for four years in college before opting to pursue a professional racing career.
After high school, Ron began competing in racquetball and developed into a premier “Open” division player.
Ron is comfortable in front a camera whether in an interview after a race when a smudge of clutch dust on his face or when its covered by makeup.
A longtime member of the Screen Actors Guild, which allows him to vote on the Oscars and preview movies, he has become one of the most recognized drag racers in the country through starring roles in television commercials for sponsor NAPA AUTO PARTS. He helped to popularize the “NAPA Know How” jingle.
“I’ll never forget when I was at the Denver airport going up an escalator and a woman at least 80 was coming down,” he recalls. “As she came closer she started singing the ‘NAPA Know How’ song and was shaking her head like we do in commercials.
“That’s the impact I’ve felt since being part of the NAPA family, and those commercials have done so much to help expose NHRA drag racing to new fans. I never could have imagined what it would mean to be in a TV commercial. It’s amazing how many people recognize me from our NAPA commercials.”
He also has a cameo role in “Snake & Mongoose: The Movie,” a feature film that comes out in 2013. The movie celebrates the Funny Car rivalry between Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen that made drag racing and Funny Cars part of American mainstream culture through the marketing of the drivers and sales of replica Hot Wheels toys.
Ron is a passionate rock aficionado and lists countless rock stars as friends and several have been his guests at various NHRA events throughout his career. His rocker friends range from members of iconic groups like Motley Crew and Metallica to more recent bands including Pennywise, Seether and Lifehouse.
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