BROWNSBURG, Ind. – official team release — NHRA photo —
Fourteen months ago, Jack Beckman wasn’t certain he’d be driving a Funny Car in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Don Schumacher Racing was working to secure a sponsor for his 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car when New Mexico’s Terry Chandler, a longtime support of DSR and NHRA drag racing, stepped up to expand her support from one entry to two.
She decided to extend partial support for the team in 2014 to a full season of financial backing and donate branding space to Infinite Hero on the Dodge Funny Car, the team’s two 53-foot transport trailers and all team uniforms to support the Infinite Hero Foundation (InfiniteHero.org) that provides grants to help veterans returning from war with physical or mental injuries.
Chandler also decided to continuing to sponsor the DSR Funny Car driven by Tommy Johnson Jr. with branding to support Make-A-Wish (Wish.org).
“I’m just so thankful to be part of this,” she said. “I feel very blessed to be involved with Infinite Hero and all that they do to help the men and women, along with their families, who have served our country. Infinite Hero truly makes a difference in lives, and our team has been fortunate to see that with our own eyes.
“For the past two years, being part of Infinite Hero with this race team, I have met so many people who inspire me. But it isn’t just me who is inspired; my team members feel this in their hearts, too. To have the ability to raise awareness for these two foundations has meant the world to me. It brings so much joy to my life, and I hope that others are inspired to help.”
So far this season, Infinite Hero has generated more than $300,000 through its DSR and NHRA drag racing programs. That includes the more than $150,000 on the night of Veterans Day at the first annual Infinite Hero Gala at Oakley headquarters in Foothill Ranch, Calif., and the exchange of IHF Challenge Coins by Beckman at NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is expected to top $150,000 during this weekend’s season finale at Pomona, Calif.
Because of the success of the program in 2015, the Infinite Hero program will return to Beckman’s Funny Car in 2016.
“Everything this Infinite Hero team has accomplished is because of Terry Chandler’s generosity, and I won’t ever forget that,” said Beckman, 49, a former U.S. Air Force sergeant and Southern California resident. “No matter what happens at Pomona I know we all can be proud of the things we have done on and off the track.”
Each run down the track this year Beckman carried at least 10 Infinite Hero Challenge Coins on board his record-breaking 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car that were exchanged with NHRA fans for a $100 donation to Infinite Hero.
Infinite Hero Foundation President and Oakley CEO Colin Baden said the foundation has donated nearly $2.23 million to 15 different programs offering innovative and measurable treatments for combat recovery.
“The Challenge Coin program will top $150,000 this year,” Beckman said. “When you throw out a large number like that what gets lost is the effort that went into making that number; that’s 1,500 coins that NHRA fans have come to our pit area and donated $100 for. I took those coins down the track, sign them and personally hand them to the fans.
“When you look at the dollar figure and see what that does … that will pay for several soldiers who came back with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) to go through a month of therapy at The Brain Treatment Center (MRT in Newport Beach, Calif.). The exoskeleton suit (paralyzed retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Linfoot wears) cost $100,000 so between what we generated last year and this year it would pay for two of those suits to be put in therapy centers to enable veterans to come and stand up to go through therapy. It’s just changing people’s lives.”
Beckman and the team led by crew chiefs Jimmy Prock with assistants John Medlen and Chris Cunningham have won a category-best seven Mello Yello titles this year while setting the NHRA elapsed time record at a stunning 3.897 seconds.
When this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif., begins on Friday, ‘Fast Jack’ will be ranked second and 38 points behind Worsham. Each round win on Sunday during eliminations is worth 20 points.
But even if Beckman falls short of winning his second Funny Car world championship in four years, the program’s support of America’s wounded veterans has made it a winning year.
“The Infinite Hero program honors us by letting us help their wonderful foundation,” Schumacher said. “Helping the Infinite Hero program is what makes being involved in NHRA drag racing even more special. We hope to raise a lot more money and awareness to help Infinite Hero help the brave men and women of our military who sacrificed so much for us.”
Beckman added, “We’ve done some absolutely incredible things this year. Our Infinite Hero program with Terry is what I am most humbled by and proudest to have been part of.”
CREDIT: Don Schumacher Racing