Obviously were not talking about the President but more importantly, who we are talking about is Todd Okuhara. Last week, Don Schumacher of Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) promoted Okuhara to Director of Racing at DSR. Okuhara will essentially be overseeing the entire DSR operation. (Source – NHRA)
Okuhara had been the crew chief along with Phil Shuler on DSR’s Top Fuel team with Spencer Massey driving. Shuler will take over as the sole crew chief on the Top Fueler and note that Massey was surprisingly reinstated as the driver after being fired following the 2012 season.
44 year old Okuhara’s rise to the top of drag racing’s largest organization starts all the way back in Waikiki where Okuhara started working in his father’s machine shop and drag racing at Hawaii Raceway Park (which closed in 2006). At the age of 24, he moved to Southern California. 2013 will be Okuhara’s 20th season in professional drag racing.
Before joining DSR back in ’06, Okuhara worked for Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme and was part of two world championship there with Larry Dixon driving.
Overseeing an operation that just finished the 2012 season with both the Top and Funny Car champions will be a daunting task. But having successfully worked at every level in drag racing gives Okuhara just what Don Schumacher needs. Said Schumacher,
“This is the next evolution for DSR and Todd is the man for the job. For being a young man, Todd has considerable experience with Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters. This new position will provide much more consistency within our organization, it will enable us to share even more data among our teams, and better communicate to our exceptionally talented craftsmen in our fab and machine shops what our teams need to continue improving safety and performance.”
High praise for a guy from Hawaii who paradoxically started his professional career working on the Hawaiian Funny Car and under the tutelage of legendary crew chief Roland Leong – a fellow Hawaiian. On the other hand, maybe the praise is just and Okuhara is the man for the job, especially when you consider he was the tuner on Jack Beckman’s world record 333.66 mph run for a quarter-mile – a record that may never be matched since NHRA doesn’t run quarter-mile anymore.
For Okuhara, this top job is definitely a position to be relished and a reward for knowledge and hard work. Congratulations are in order and as they say in Hawaii: Dat be dakine.