"The Sarge" Tony Schumacher inducted into the Legends of Thunder Valley
Tony Schumacher, NHRA’s winningest Top Fuel driver in history, was inducted today into Bristol Dragway’s Legends of Thunder Valley, the historic track’s official hall of fame, during the running of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
Six of the “The Sarge’s” record 86 career Top Fuel victories came at Bristol Dragway during his distinguished career. The eight-time NHRA world champion, qualified 10th in his JCM Racing’s SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel dragster for today’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, and says he’s looking to add more wins to his stats at one of his favorite tracks on the circuit. Yesterday, Schumacher added another Bristol final to his resume, but that will go into the record books as a final round for the delayed conclusion of the NHRA New England Nationals.
“Whenever that U.S. Army dragster pulled into the staging lanes at Bristol Dragway you had a pretty good feeling that it was going to win,” said Jerry Caldwell, president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway. “Tony Schumacher was dominating at Thunder Valley in the 2000s and his success here mirrored his success on the NHRA national circuit as he raced to 86 career victories and eight world championship titles. We are so pleased to induct him this weekend and for all of his great accomplishments here he is well-deserving of the honor to be forever known as a Legend of Thunder Valley.”
Schumacher, 53, is the 22nd inductee in the prestigious Legends of Thunder Valley and joins his father, 2014 honoree Don Schumacher, in the exclusive club. Schumacher is also only the second member to be inducted while he is still an active racer, joining 2016 inductee John Force, who continues to compete in the NHRA Funny Car category.
“I just love this track, I’ve always loved racing here,” Schumacher said. “This recognition means a lot, it’s the first hall of fame for me. This is a great track and such a beautiful facility and I love the people here. It’s also a challenging track. You have to be on your game to race here with the changing weather conditions.
“When you look up there and see all the great names up there (on the Legends of Thunder Valley sign above the grandstands) it’s such an honor to join them. Bristol has always been a great racetrack for me and I’ve had great success and won here with several different crew chiefs. I’ve been blessed to have great people behind me and that’s what makes it all go.”
Schumacher, a Chicago native who currently resides in Austin, Texas, dominated NHRA’s Top Fuel category in the 2000s. He won six consecutive world championship titles from 2004-2009. His incredible 2008 season, where he was named Driver of the Year for all of motorsports, was perhaps his best ever, where he won 15 races in 18 final rounds and posted 9 No. 1 qualifying awards and never lost a first-round pairing that season.
He also claimed NHRA Top Fuel world championship titles in 1999, driving the Exide Batteries dragster to one victory in 5 final round appearances, and in 2014, where he won five times in six final rounds.
Schumacher had an amazing love affair with the sport’s most prestigious race, the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. He has won that race 10 times during his career, a record for all NHRA professional categories.
He also had a similar affection for beautiful Thunder Valley, where he reached eight final rounds and was able to cash in on six of them, including wins in 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2018. He posted runner-up finishes at Bristol in 2001 and 2016. He claimed three consecutive Bristol Dragway wins from his epic ‘08 season through 2010. He also claimed four No. 1 qualifying positions at Bristol, in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
LEGENDS OF THUNDER VALLEY
2023 – Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher, Top Fuel
2022 – Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Funny Car/Top Fuel
2021 – Scotty Cannon, Pro Mod / Funny Car
2019 – Ted Jones, promoter / drag racing visionary
2018 – Mark Oswald, Funny Car / Top Fuel
2017 – Doug Herbert, Top Fuel
2016 – John Force, Funny Car
2015 – Carl Moore, Bristol Dragway founder and Connie Kalitta, NHRA pioneer
2014 – Don Schumacher, NHRA team owner / Funny Car pioneer
2013 – Warren Johnson, Pro Stock
2012 – Gene Fulton, Engine Builder
2011 – Jeff Byrd, Bristol President and GM / RJ Reynolds marketing
2010 – Shirl Greer, Funny Car
2009 – Dale Pulde, Funny Car
2008 – Ronnie Sox & Buddy Martin, Pro Stock
2007 – Bruton Smith, Speedway Motorsports / Bristol Dragway owner
Wally Parks, NHRA founder
Don Garlits, Top Fuel
Larry Carrier, Bristol Dragway founder
Rickie Smith, Pro Stock / Pro Mod