A world champion spent the day relaxing in Union on Thursday before exceeding 300 mph in Charlotte this weekend.
NHRA World Champion drag racer Tony Schumacher spent the day at River Chase Golf Club on Thursday to relax, play golf and meet his fans.
Schumacher is a seven-time NHRA champion and the son of NHRA legend — funny car driver Don Schumacher. In 1999, Tony became the first driver to exceed 330 mph in competition, and he also has the world record for fastest 1/4 mile top fuel run at 337.58 mph, which he earned in 2005 in Brainerd, MN. On Sept. 14, 2008 at the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals in Concord, NC, Schumacher surpassed fellow drag racer Joe Amato as the winningest driver in NHRA Top Fuel history with his 53rd career victory.
Schumacher drives for his father’s multi-team organization — Don Schumacher Racing. He has been sponsored for several years by the U.S. Army, and his intense personality and buzz cut hairstyle have earned him the nickname “Sarge.”
Schumacher agreed to come spend the day and promote the golf course as a favor to his childhood friend Julia Krasinski. Krasinski and her husband, Greg, have managed River Chase Golf Club — which is owned by MGK Golf — for the past 16 years and are doing everything they can to make the business grow.
Julia pointed out that youngsters come from AMI Kids White Pines — a camp which provides services contracted by the Department of Juvenile Justice — on a weekly basis to do work ranging from painting to carpentry to landscaping.
“It’s been a blessing for these boys to show up every week,” Julia said, pointing out that she has formed a positive rapport with them since they have come regularly. “They are all good boys; they just made bad decisions.”
The boys were present at the golf course during Schumacher’s visit, and he took time to laugh and joke with them as well as discuss their leadership potential.
“No matter where you want to get to, you can start today,” Schumacher said. “Everyone is a leader. The might lead in the right direction or the wrong direction, but we are all leaders.”
Schumacher told the young men that the key to being a good leader is to help the community and each other. He said he could tell the boys are getting on the right track.
“They were all very respectful,” he said, explaining that everyone has made wrong decisions at some point in life. “That’s a clear sign they want to go in the right direction. They want to better themselves. I know very important people who have been where those boys are and have become very successful in what they do.”
Schumacher pointed out that Thursday would be a final day of relaxation before racing in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Yes, I’m relaxing and playing golf today — then 300 mph tomorrow,” he laughed.