Tommy Johnson Jr.’s Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car will have a new look when the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series begins on the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona dragstrip the first weekend of February.
Thanks to the benevolent nature of Doug and the late Terry Chandler, Johnson Jr.’s ride has been a “giving” car for the past six 24-race seasons. It has carried the Make-A-Wish colors for all but the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, where Johnson Jr. campaigned a Riley Hospital for Children Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.
During these past six seasons, representing Make-A-Wish, the DSR team has racked up 10 race wins, hosted more than 500 Wish Kids and their families at tracks around the country, granted four Wishes and made many wonderful memories for families stricken by childhood illness.
This year the Charger sports a new yet familiar look throughout the year, representing The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, one of the world’s most respected cancer patient care, research, education and prevention campuses.
The black, red and white logo for MDAnderson has been used once before by DSR, run by Johnson Jr.’s teammate Jack Beckman, who wore the colors at last year’s MOPAR Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil last spring in Houston. It was Doug Chandler’s desire to showcase the cancer center after wife Terry’s first-hand experience at the facility.
Terry Chandler, a huge drag racing aficionado (and the sister of former DSR Funny Car driver Johnny Gray), elected to field two “giving” cars in 2014; when she died of cancer in July of 2017, her husband Doug wanted to continue the “giving car” program, which enables a non-profit to be recognized through a dedicated tribute livery at no cost to the organization.
U.S. Air Force veteran and cancer survivor Beckman continues to serve as an ambassador for returning soldiers and their families by promoting the Infinite Hero Foundation on his Hellcat throughout 2020. Jack Beckman finished second in the 2019 NHRA Funny Car standings, just eight points shy of now-three-time champion Robert Hight from John Force Racing.
Doug Chandler wanted to highlight the achievements of MD Anderson, having experienced the exceptional level of care provided by the center. Terry Chandler was treated for glioblastoma, an aggressive and rare form of brain cancer at the center. When Doug Chandler, a colon cancer survivor, received a recent skin cancer diagnosis, he chose MD Anderson to treat and help him overcome his latest cancer diagnosis.
“It’s my hope that, by running this car full-time, we can raise awareness for MD Anderson and all that they do, which will hopefully lead to more dollars donated for cancer research,” explained Doug Chandler who, through his TLC Foundation, has awarded two grants to MD Anderson for glioblastoma research. “Cures are developed through research and research takes money.
“The fans in Baytown, Texas were so supportive of the MD Anderson car last year, and I’m certain the NHRA community will embrace MD Anderson, just as they have with Make-A-Wish, Infinite Hero and Riley,” he added.
Team owner Don Schumacher, too, has close ties to MD Anderson. Diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2014, Schumacher chose MD Anderson for treatment and credits the center’s team with helping him overcome the disease. “We at DSR have been affected by cancer in a big way,” said Johnson, looking to add to his 19 career Funny Car wins this year. “First it was Don’s ordeal, and then Terry, and most recently Doug.
“It seems as if these days, pretty much everyone has been affected by cancer in some way – whether it’s through a personal diagnosis or through a friend, family member or coworker. We saw firsthand how much the folks at MD Anderson helped Don and Terry and Doug. MD Anderson does so many great things for – not just adults – but kids, too. A lot of people have benefited from what they do. There are so many great and deserving organizations out there, and we couldn’t be prouder that Doug has chosen MD Anderson for us to represent this year.”
Look for Tommy Johnson Jr. and the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car at 23 of 24 races this season, beginning with the NHRA Internationals in Pomona, February 7-9. As is the Don Schumacher Racing custom for its hometown event, Johnson Jr. will switch to a single-race Riley Kids livery during the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway on Labor Day weekend.