Capps meets his need for speed on track and online
By Seth Eggert, Editor
CONCORD, NC — Two-time NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car Champion Ron Capps continues to satisfy his need for track speed in real life and in the virtual world.
After his second title, Capps was a free agent. He took the opportunity to create his own NHRA Camping World Drag Racing team. Keeping most of his previous team intact, he brought with him sponsorship from GearWrench and NAPA Auto Parts and partnered with Toyota Gazoo Racing. The new venture has Capps handling the new Toyota Supra bodies, debuting them at the Circle K 4-Wide Nationals at Z-Max Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Although the move to Toyota was kept secret by Capps, there were subtle hints online. In the Monday Night Racing league presented by Interstate Batteries, the native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., quit driving cars with Dodge logos. His car of choice was also replaced by Toyota Racing machines, when the option was available. In dual races for the Season 5 Sunrise 500 opener, Capps debuted a new NASCAR Gen 7 No. 28 virtual GearWrench/NAPA Toyota Camry.
“Ford Martin asked me about a design for last week’s launch race, the duels I was in,” Capps recalled. “I said, ‘man, if you could make a GearWrench NAPA car and make it a Toyota.’ It came out great.I had a few people on the forums and on the internet asking about the Toyota and watching me in that Monday Night Racing race.
Although Capps regularly competes in the Monday Night Racing league, which was founded in 2020, he has been on iRacing since the motorsport simulation platform launched. The 56-year-old was one of the simulation’s first beta testers. However, Capps’ iRacing prowess was demonstrated during the COVID-19 shutdown. As iRacing ramped up to meet the need for speed, the NHRA owner-driver took part in several events on the online platform.
“I’ve been following iRacing since they started, I was one of the first beta testers,” Capps explained. “To see him grow, but really because of the pandemic, for people like you and me, it was great. The pandemic changed my life so much that I made the decision to become a team owner. C That’s mainly why I said I had to do it now. I think a lot of people’s lives have been changed, but for us, you and me, and a lot of people on iRacing, you were connecting, sometimes one morning during the pandemic and there were almost 20,000 people online all over the world.”
Although Capps competes in several iRacing events and leagues to date, Monday Night Racing was one of his radars early in his training. The league, co-founded by Martin and Paul Sutton, includes real-life professional drivers, motorsport media, crew members, industry personnel and other select celebrities. The first race featured ARCA Menards Series West driver Jagger Jones, NASCAR driver Regan Smith, among others.
The first race broadcast featured NASCAR drivers Landon Cassill, Bobby Labonte and Parker Kligerman, iRacing’s Steve Myers and Kevin Iannarelli, as well as TJ Majors and others. Some of these drivers still compete with Capps in the league today, as well as IndyCar’s Conor Daly, NASCAR’s Kyle Busch, Rajah Caruth and Ryan Vargas, Sports Car’s Preston Pardus and Brad Perez, and others. celebrities.
“While doing all these races, people from iRacing were constantly contacting me,” Capps said. “But I saw the first Monday night race going up and I was actually watching to see who was in it. Then the first invite I got, I could tell right away it was going to be fun, and it was. They have a lot of really fun people from various fields, other race car drivers, media people, people in the middle who knew a lot about it.
“We are going to race with these real drivers, including me. To step in and bring in Conor Daly, Kyle Busch, and all those guys, Monday Night Racing has always been fun. But, just to watch it unfold and grow (has been amazing). “
Although Monday Night Racing is a virtual league on iRacing, its importance has grown on Capps. The only representative of the drag racing world on the show has made it a point to keep Monday nights clear so he can compete on the show. Although Capps is looking for his first Virtual Series win since Eldora Speedway in Season 1, he’s still having fun week after week. However, now that he owns the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series team, he has less time to train each week.
“I can’t wait to be there, I mean Monday nights honestly it’s more of a priority than it probably should be for a lot of things. I always make sure my flight gets me home The only downside to being a team owner now is that I haven’t had time to practice for these upcoming Monday Night Racing events.
“It’s on my wife’s calendar. She’s going to book a dinner the other night with some friends who wanted to have a going away party and she’s like they asked about Monday night and Tuesday, although she knows right away that Ron is running Monday night on iRacing. It was funny.”
Capps is scheduled to start the first Sunrise 500 at virtual Daytona International Speedway 15 on Monday, May 2. Monday Night Racing league coverage presented by Interstate Batteries will be on Podium eSports.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NHRA Media