DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car driver J.R. Todd has a passion for NHRA Camping World Drag Racing as well as a wide variety of other forms of motorsports. He grew up in the Junior Dragster League and throughout his career he has taken a keen interest in learning from other forms of racing to give himself an edge on the drag strip. His experience and at-track education have afforded him the chance to be successful in the Top Fuel and Funny Car ranks tallying nine national event victories in each class. This weekend at the 52nd annual Gatornationals Todd will be looking for his tenth Funny Car win and first at the historic event on the east coast.
“For me, Gainesville is right up there at the top with winning Indy,” said Todd, a two-time U.S. Nationals Funny Car winner. “It’s one of the biggest races in our sport along with the U.S. Nationals and the Pomona races. It’s one that I’ve always wanted to check off the list, but haven’t been able to. Hopefully, we can do that here in 2021. The Gatornationals is one of the most historic and prestigious races on the tour. It’s like the east coast version of the Winternationals and it brings out a lot of the legends of our sport and some great memories. We’d like to add our name to that list of winners.”
Todd enters the 2021 campaign looking for his second Funny Car world championship in the last four years after winning the title in 2018. Last year Todd and his DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car team battled through a tough season that did not allow the team to establish a rhythm. They raced to a number of final rounds but could not run the table on race day.
“There was just so much unknown,” explained Todd. “We didn’t know where we were going to race or when we were going to race. At the end of the day, we were just glad to be able to run the races that we did and have some fans at the track. Moving forward, hopefully, we can run the majority of races that are on the schedule for 2021 and get more fans out to see some NHRA Camping World Drag Racing.”
This off-season Todd continued to dedicate himself to improving his physical fitness as well as his mental agility at PitFit gym outside of Indianapolis. His goal entering the 2021 season has also remained consistent with previous seasons.
“Contend for a championship, that’s the goal every season. We need to show up and win races and contend for a championship. Anything short of that is not acceptable for us. We hold ourselves to a high standard. That’s the goal,” added Todd.
Another championship would be an amazing accomplishment for Todd and the DHL Toyota team. For Todd looking ahead to the 2021 season the Funny Car champion is looking for a return to normalcy. Throughout his life that has meant weekends at a race track either racing or enjoying watching one of his friends turn laps on dirt or asphalt.
“I was pretty much born and raised at the racetrack watching my dad race flat track motorcycles. Growing up in Indiana, you’re either a basketball fan or motorsports fan and growing up I was always at the track with my dad,” said Todd. “I fell in love with dirt track motorcycles and was shied away from that by my parents due to safety concerns. Then I started in junior dragsters. Pretty much the connections I’ve made throughout drag racing and meeting different people is how you grow to love other forms of motorsports like sprint car racing, dirt late model racing. I have a handful of buddies who’ve come up through those ranks and made it onto the NASCAR circuit, so I have an interest in keeping up with them.”
2020 NHRA Gatornationals Highlights: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Last Event Recap (2020 NHRA Las Vegas Finals): Qual. No. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson.; Lost to Ron Capps
Career Stats: 235 events, 227 starts, 250 round wins, 18 wins, 35 finals, 12 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 83 events, 83 starts, 9 wins, 15 finals, 102 round wins, 3 No. 1 qualifiers
Kalitta Motorsports PR