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Funny Car driver reflects on NHRA, Las Vegas memories: ‘It’s flown by’

Funny Car driver Ron Capps’ Las Vegas racing memories predate The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Capps heard the drag strip was going to be built adjacent to the still unopened NASCAR track while attending the SEMA Show after his rookie season in NHRA in 1995.

He and a few passengers decided to pay a visit to site, which didn’t start holding drag races until 2000.

“I was in the backseat with Mario Andretti and (car owner) Don Prudhomme,” Capps said. “As we drove out to the site where the track was going to be built … just looking around and trying to imagine what was going to be there and now seeing it — it’s pretty cool.”

Capps is in his 30th season driving in NHRA. The six-time winner at LVMS will look to add another victory at the track when NHRA returns to Las Vegas this weekend for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Qualifying is Friday and Saturday and elimination races are Sunday.

“It’s flown by. … I don’t feel like it’s gone that many years and then there’s times where I sit back at night, get ready to go to bed and I start thinking about all the moments and history,” Capps said.

Capps, 58, remembers watching his dad race growing up. He said seeing his dad make the most of limited resources taught him an important lesson as he went into his rookie season driving Top Fuel for Roger Primm.

“I learned early on to just keep humble, but to surround yourself with people who are better than you,” Capps said. “My rookie year, we didn’t have a sponsor and Roger Primm took a chance on me. I was nobody and didn’t even have a Top Fuel license at the time.”

Capps won in Seattle in 1995 driving for Primm, whose family established the California-Nevada border town with the same name. That caught the eye of Prudhomme, a Funny Car owner.

“(Prudhomme) saw something in me when he could have hired a lot of veterans at that time to drive a huge, big sponsor team like that and he chose me. Same thing with Roger Primm,” Capps said.

Capps, a San Luis Obispo, California, native, won 67 events and two Funny Car world championships (2016 and 2021) in 26 seasons driving for Prudhomme. Capps decided to jump into the ownership space after 2021 and started Ron Capps Motorsports the following season.

“I thought I had an idea going into ownership that I kind of knew and heard what’s gonna be going on in your brain, but I had no idea,” Capps said.

Any worries about his new venture were settled four races into the 2022 season. Capps won the Four-Wide Nationals at Las Vegas in April, his first win as a car owner. It catapulted Capps to a five-win season and his second straight Funny Car world title.

“That’s what I dreamt about as a kid, being a team owner in the sport. I never imagined it would happen and there I was,” Capps said. “You start to wonder if you’re ever going to win as a team owner and we did it there in Vegas, which was perfect because all my family was there and it was just awesome.”

Capps is still looking for his first win in 2024, his third season as a car owner. His team remains a single-car operation, but Capps said he’d like to give a deserving young racer a chance like Primm and Prudhomme gave him.

“I was hired because they thought I’d do a good job in the car and out of the car and I want to give somebody that chance,” Capps said. “It’s very hard to do. It’s hard to make it in any sport like that. So I’d love to pay it back.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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