SHAWN LANGDON TO RACE FUEL FUNNY CAR IN 2018
Shawn Langdon never figured in a million years he'd have the opportunity to race a Top Fuel dragster. Likewise, he never imagined driving a fuel Funny Car would be in the cards either.
Friday evening at the NHRA Fall Nationals outside of Dallas, Texas, Langdon revealed he's following the lead of teammate and friend J.R. Todd and will be headed over to Funny Car in 2018.
Langdon's sponsor, Global Electronic Technology, a Torrance, Ca.-based company with over a quarter-century of expertise in the payment processing industry, will make the move with him to a Toyota Funny Car. He will essentially assume the same crew led by Nicky Boninfante and Tommy DeLago which turned the wrenches for soon-retiring Alexis DeJoria.
The opportunity to become the 17th driver to win titles in both nitro categories is something that intrigues him.
"I think having an opportunity to drive something completely different intrigues me the most," Langdon said. "I've been very fortunate to have accomplished what I have in Top Fuel in the amount of time that I’ve been racing. To get an opportunity to jump into a completely different class, have a great sponsor, Global Electronic Technologies, Steve and Samantha Bryson, to stand behind me and Team Kalitta for giving me that opportunity. I mean, up until a week ago, I’ve never even sat in a Funny Car."
Langdon, for much of his drag racing career, has raced open-bodied drag racing vehicles. The Funny Car is bound to be a totally different experience.
"To sit in the Funny Car and have them lower the body down for the first time was a crazy feeling," Langdon admitted. "But I think at this point, being able to get a fresh start in a new class, to have a great team behind me, to get put into a great race car, a car that’s capable of winning races is amazing. But to give me that opportunity, I’m very grateful for it; I’m very excited about it."
Langdon understands along with the challenges of driving an untamable Funny Car, comes a learning curve. He has to look no further than Todd for inspiration.
Todd, who won 11 events as a dragster driver, has scored two wins already this season in his first year of Funny Car.
"There will be a lot of learning curves along the way, but I think with having a great team behind me, you know Kalitta’s going to give me every opportunity to go win that championship and to have a great sponsor behind it that’s pushing us to take our team to the next level," Langdon said. "But I think it’s just that whole newness that I go in where there are no expectations; it’s just a whole new fresh start.
"I definitely think that I’m ready for it. I’m ready for the new challenge. You kind of get to a point in your career where every year you go out and try to find new challenges for yourself to make yourself a better driver. With all the years that I’ve been racing Top Fuel, you try to find different angles to make yourself a better driver to try to stay one step ahead of the competition."
Langdon had the opportunity to sit in a Funny Car with the body lowered. It didn't take him long to realize the differences.
"It’s pretty crazy," Langdon said. "Once they put the body down and all of a sudden my vision went away pretty quickly," Langdon said. "I just kind of laughed to myself, and it was just like, ‘Well, here we go, no looking back now. So this is my new home. I’ve got to get used to it, got to get adjusted to it. It’s going to be crazy."
"I don’t really even know what to expect with it," Langdon said. "I never even sat in a Funny Car when they’ve warmed it up, so I have no idea what to expect. I think it’s just at this point with J.R. going through this same transition a year ago, he knows, and it’s still fresh in his head what I’m going to experience. So I’ve been beating down his phone, I’ve been eating up Chad Head a little bit, trying to learn all these different things that I’m going to experience."
Langdon expects to begin the crossover licensing process as early as next month following the NHRA event in Las Vegas. He hopes to head into Phoenix testing next February focused on getting the Toyota Funny Car dialed in to contend for a championship.
"I think they’re going to put me in a good position, it’s just a matter of me getting adjusted to all the newness of driving a Funny Car, and relearning all that seat-of-the-pants feel that for the last eight years I’ve been learning in a dragster," Langdon explained. "Now I’m going to have a whole new feeling that I’m going to have to learn again. I’m excited about it. I think once you kind of get like I said in certain stages of your career, you try to find new challenges, and this is definitely going to be by far my biggest challenge. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m really excited about it."
To become one of the elite few who can boast victories in both nitro divisions brings great accolades, but for Langdon winning is winning regardless of what steering wheel he holds.
"I want to win, and it doesn’t matter what I’m driving," Langdon said. "When they came to me, and they said, ‘Do you want to drive a Funny Car? We might have an opportunity."
"I said if you guys paid me and they started a golf cart class, I’d race it. It doesn’t matter. I want to race, I love racing, whatever class I’m in, whatever car I’m in, whatever vehicle it is."
"I come to the race with the intention of winning and that’s my purpose. So this opportunity, it would mean a lot to be able to win. For [Kalitta Racing] to have faith in me to make the switch and them to have the confidence in me to make the switch.There’s a lot of talented drivers out there that could definitely fill that role of driving a Funny Car. But for them to have the confidence in me to do it, it would just be rewarding for me to be able to give that back to them of them knowing that they made a good decision."