J.R. Todd

YPSILANTI, Mich. (June 18, 2024) – The year was 2006, and J.R. Todd, then driving a Top Fuel car, made history. After that historic weekend, a new display was created at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Season resumes June 2-23, 2024 at the PlayNHRA Virginia NHRA Nationals in Dinwiddie, Va.

When Todd became the first African American driver to win a Top Fuel race in 2006, his fire suit was donated to Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. On Friday before the Virginia NHRA Nationals, Todd will visit the National Air and Space Museum and will see his fire suit on display for the first time.

“I think for any drag racer to have their gear in there is a pretty cool deal,” Todd added. “I’ve never been to the Smithsonian so I’m looking forward to going there to check that place out. I’ve been getting pictures from fans who have gone there and seen it over the years so that’s pretty neat.”

Also pretty neat is the season Todd and his DHL GR Supra team are enjoying. With the exception of the race at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago, Todd reached at least the semifinals at every race this season. The battle for added consistency continues, but for now, things are good but can always get better. Consistently going to the later rounds is always positive. With three final rounds and four semifinals in eight races, Todd finds himself third in points behind John Force and points leader Austin Prock.

“It’s good to be going to the later rounds,” Todd said. “I keep saying we need to work on our consistency especially in qualifying. It worked out in Bristol with the conditions changing from qualifying to race day. We still have work to do but it’s nice to be going to the later rounds and racking up those points. We have to keep working to find a little more performance to keep up with the Force cars and keep going to those later rounds.

“The JFR cars have definitely done a good job of kind of separating themselves from the rest of the field a little, but some guys are testing during the race weekends so you never know what teams are really doing. We know (Matt) Hagan can run well anytime; (Bob) Tasca, (Ron) Capps – they’ll all be right there in the thick of things. Really, I don’t think anyone’s separating themselves that much because there’s still a lot of racing before the countdown starts.”

This weekend’s race near Richmond, Va., is a two-day show with three qualifying rounds on Saturday followed by race day Sunday. “I don’t think it’s gonna be a problem,” Todd said. “We did it in the pre-season in Bradenton (Fla). Honestly, I think it’s better for the fans. I like it because it gives us three cracks at the track kind of under race day setup so I’m all for it.”

Setup for both qualifying and race day will be hindered by a weather forecast that includes temperatures in the mid and upper 90s. That’s a challenge for everyone – race teams and fans alike.

“It’s probably gonna be a matter of survival kind of like Bristol,” Todd added. “Looking at the forecast, it looks like it will be extremely hot there, and when that happens, the track temperature will be really high so it’ll be tricky track conditions. It’s probably the best surface we race on, but generally when we go there, it’s hot and nasty. Having the best surface is a good thing, but there’s not much you can do to yield quick and fast runs when the track temperature is 140 degrees or higher.”

When Todd advanced to the Bristol semifinals, he earned a spot in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge next week. During Saturday’s qualifying sessions in Virginia, the drivers who reached the semifinals in Bristol will re-run the semifinals and final earning additional purse and championship bonus points.

Race Information:

PlayNHRA Virginia NHRA Nationals Virginia Motorsports Park; Dinwiddie, Va.

TV Schedule (All times eastern):   

  • Qualifying Show 1: 1-2 p.m. Saturday, June 22 on FS1
  • Qualifying Show 2: 1-2 p.m. Sunday, June 23 on FS1
  • Finals: 5-8 p.m. Sunday, June 23 on FS1

2022 Viriginia NHRA Nationals Recap: Qualified No. 5; lost to John Force. 

Funny Car Career Stats: 306 events, 21 wins, 26 runner-up, 341 round wins, 14 No. 1 qualifiers.

2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series Results To Date:

  • Gainesville: Qualified No. 6; defeated Blake Alexander, Ron Capps, Bob Tasca and Austin Prock.
  • Pomona: Qualified No. 11; defeated Cruz Pedregon and Paul Lee; lost to Matt Hagan.
  • Phoenix: Qualified No. 5; defeated Cruz Pedregon and John Force before losing to Austin Prock.
  • Las Vegas 4W: Qualified No. 3; defeated D. Wilkerson, D. Richards before losing to M. Hagan and R. Capps
  • Charlotte 4W: Qualified No. 12; defeated Ron Capps and Buddy Hull in the first round, Cruz Pedregon and John Force in the semifinals before beating John Force but losing to Matt Hagan and Daniel Wilkerson in the final round.
  • Chicago: Qualified No. 12; lost to Alexis DeJoria.
  • Epping: Qualified No. 3; defeated Dave Richards and Bob Tasca before losing to John Force.
  • Bristol: Qualified No. 11; defeated Terry Haddock, Ron Capps, John Force; lost to Austin Prock.