From his vintage ’68 El Camino to his 330-mph Infinite Hero Dodge Funny Car, Jack Beckman’s life is consumed by fast automobiles.
Jack Beckman likes to joke that because he lives 2,000 miles away from the Schumacher Racing headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind., he is able to resist his temptation to spend countless hours at the shop. That doesn’t mean that Beckman isn’t able to satisfy his love for high performance automobiles on a daily basis. For more than three years, the two-time world champion has spent much of his spare time restoring his prized ’68 Chevy El Camino.
The vintage Chevy, which is a desirable Super Sport model with a 396-cid big block engine, is Beckman’s first car. He bought it from his father, Bob, and has owned it for more than 35-years.
“I bought it from my dad when I was 16, and I took my first driving test in it,” said Beckman. “I also made my first pass down a dragstrip in this car in Lubbock [Texas] in 1986. I went 93-mph and I still have the time slip. It sat for 22 years and we’ve been restoring it for 38 months. It’s been a full frame-off restoration and I did much of the work myself. I finally got it fired up about a week ago, and it was really emotional. This car represents so many great times in my life.”
Beckman has shared many of the details of the restoration across his various social media outlets. He’s documented months of dropped bolts, skinned knuckles, parts that don’t fit, and all the other challenges that go with a frame-off restoration. Beckman’s El Camino also provided the starting point for a great career that includes championships in both Super Comp and Funny Car, as well as 30 national event titles.
Beckman’s efforts to restore the car were rewarded last week when he won the Best Appearing Car award at the Cool Cruise car show held in LaVerne, Calif., just outside the main gates of Auto Club Pomona Raceway. Beckman considers that a good omen for winning his first Wally of the season this weekend in Charlotte. He’s won two previous four-wide races here, in 2011 and 2015.
“I love the four-wide format,” Beckman said. “Personally, I don’t think it should count for points, but I really enjoy the challenge as a driver. This race is unique. I still think it’s funny that John Force won the first four-wide here and he didn’t even know how to stage. There are a lot of crazy things that happen and you have to prepare yourself for anything that might happen, or at least try to be prepared.”
Beckman lost in the first round two weeks ago in Houston but prior to that, he was more than holding his own in the tough Funny Car class. He went to the final round at the season-opener in Pomona and was also in the final of the most recent four-wide event in Las Vegas.
“We have a really good car; actually, we’ve been good all year,” said Beckman. “We broke a rod bolt in Houston, and we made some changes to address that. So far, it doesn’t seem to matter where we qualify, we seem to have a good tune-up for race day.”
26 Apr 2019 Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor