- Motz Will Close the Show at 12th annual Funny Car Nationals presented Discount Tire at US 131
MARTIN, Mich. – Bob Motz, who for 37 years has driven one of the most awe-inspiring vehicles in racing, will unleash his special brand of thunder-and-lightning one final time Sept. 10 when he and “The Original Jet Truck” close the show at the 12th annual Funny Car Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park.
The 71-year-old “King of Quake” then plans to ease into retirement although he has left the door ever-so-slightly ajar.
“It takes a lot of hours and a lot of time away from family,” he said of the schedule that takes him from coast-to-coast, border-to-border and beyond, “but I enjoy doing this and nobody understands that better than a race car driver. This is to be my retirement (year, but) I just don’t like for it to be set in stone because I truly love what I do.”
What he does is bring abnormal performance from a vehicle familiar to virtually every American.
Motz’s 1998 Kenworth conventional uses a J79 engine developed by General Electric for use in the F4 Phantom fighter jet to push the 7,000 pound truck to speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour. It has been the first and fastest of its breed to virtually every performance plateau for four decades.
It’s been his livelihood, but it also almost killed him.
Making an exhibition run in 2007 at Kanawha Valley Motorsports Park, a small one-eighth mile dragstrip in West Virginia, Motz was trapped in the truck when a fuel line broke as he “burner-popped” his way toward the starting line. The truck burned to the ground and its owner/driver suffered second and third degree burns over 40 per cent of his body.
It took two years to rebuild himself and the truck but Motz never really considered the option of retirement. His only goal was to get back on the racetrack.
“I really never gave much of a thought of giving it up,” he said. “A broken fuel line is just part of the game. It wasn’t the truck’s fault. I knew what happened and I missed the interaction with the fans. That’s what keeps me going.”
Motz climbed into his first jet car in 1968 and learned all he could from the legendary Arfons brothers, Walt and Art, for whom he drove dragsters and Funny Cars.
He built his first truck in 1979 but it was nothing like the one he’ll bring to the starting line Saturday night to conclude a program that also features six of the most potent nostalgia Funny Cars in the country, two fuel altereds, two jet Funny Cars, a wheelstander, the 330 mile-an-hour Nitro Ninja Top Fuel dragster the cars of the Nostalgia Drag Racing League and, of course, the Lane Automotive Bracket Series.
When purchased at the gate, adult tickets are $15 Friday and $25 Saturday. However, tickets purchased in advance at www.us131msp.com are $12 Friday and $19 Saturday or one can apply a discount coupon available at participating Discount Tire locations to reduce the gate price by $5.
Children 6-12 are $7 at the gate or $5 in advance. Children under six are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult and, as always, pit access is included with every ticket and parking is free.
Nitro qualifying is scheduled at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday. Racing rounds are scheduled for 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday followed by Motz and “The Original Jet Truck.