Within recent years, the Nitro Funny Car class in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series has witnessed an infusion of new blood. Today, the second fastest class in the sport includes the likes of Ashley Force and Bobby Tasca, Jr. in its ranks. In regards to the latter, Bobby Tasca, Jr. recently won Funny Car Eliminator at the 2009 NHRA Gatornationals, where Bobby was also the top qualifier.
If the name “Tasca” sounds familiar, it should, as Bobby comes from a Ford family heavily steeped in drag racing tradition. Tasca’s grandfather is none other than Bob “The Big Bopper” Tasca, the patriarch of the East Providence, RI, Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealership empire. Bob is also the one who coined the term, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”
In regards to the Tasca Ford racing dynasty, Bob began fixing up and selling used cars as a young man. By the late ’50s, he had his own new car dealership (Tasca Ford), and in no time at all, he built it into one of the largest volume Ford dealers on the east coast.
Early on, Tasca realized that high performance sold cars, and his dealership became a Mecca for Ford muscle cars in the late ’60s. On any given day you could find enough Boss 302 and Boss 429 Mustangs, Fairlanes, Torinos, and Shelby GT350 and GT500 Mustangs assembled in one place to put the average present-day Ford muscle car enthusiast show to shame.
Throughout the ’60s, Tasca Ford and the Blue Oval Battalion collaborated on a number of high performance projects. For example, Tasca and Ford Engineering were the first to shoehorn a 390-427 FE into a ’63 Ford Fairlane, and the ’64 427 Fairlane “Thunderbolt” was born. Of course, Tasca’s car was one of the quickest and fastest in the nation, setting the S/S national record at 11.69 at 122.22 as well as winning the NHRA Northeast Division Stock Eliminator Championship in ’64.
In ’65, Tasca Ford was selected to campaign one of five 427 SOHC A/FX Mustangs, winning both the AHRA and NHRA Winternationals events back-to-back, as well as the inaugural Super Stock & Drag Illustrated Magazine “Super Stock Nationals.”
In mid-’65 Tasca saw the writing on the wall and realized Experimental Stock match racing was quickly replacing legitimate NHRA/AHRA FX class racing. So, with Ford’s blessing, he commissioned Holman-Moody to build a Mustang match racer prototype to run in the unlimited class. The new Tasca “Mystery 9” Mustang match racer was a huge success, running 9.82 at 141.28 on gasoline, and the car served as a blueprint for Ford’s phenomenally successful 1966 factory-backed Mustang match racers.
But things moved very quickly in NHRA’s Unlimited Funny Car class in those days. By ’67, Tasca had one of the new flip top Mustangs running in A/FC, known as the “Tasca Mystery 7.” Disenchanted by all the mechanical breakage and fires, Tasca teamed up with Ford on the development of the infamous “Cobra-Jet” Mustang Super Stock cars, which won the 1968 NHRA Winternationals and ran away with the eliminator the remainder of the season.
In 1969, Tasca began concentrating on Ford’s Boss 429 Mustang project (the “Tasca Super Boss”), as well as funding a ’69 Mach 1 AA/FC, albeit on a limited basis. However, by season’s end, Bob was on to bigger and better things. At Ford’s request, he sold his Ford dealership and opened Tasca Lincoln-Mercury in nearby Seekonk, MA. He operated that dealership well into the early ’90s when, once again at Ford’s request, Tasca Ford, which his three sons operate, was reestablished in East Providence, RI.
Of course, the name “Tasca” would resurface with the Ford sponsorship of 14-time NHRA flopper icon John Force, which brings us full circle back to grandson Bobby, Jr. His career started by drag racing a 5.0L Mustang prior to attending Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, where he started in a Top Alcohol Funny Car before beginning his latest assignment.
“My grandfather is extremely proud of what I have accomplished,” Bobby Tasca, Jr. said. And, we have no doubt that Bobby is equally as proud of his grandfather!