Tony Schumacher always figured if someone deemed him a legend in drag racing, it would come long after his years as a racer were finished. He figured wrong. 

The esteemed panel of selectors for the Legends of The Valley for Bristol Dragway selected the winningest Top Fuel driver at the picturesque drag strip carved out of a valley in eastern Tennessee as their 2023 honoree. He will officially be inducted onto the signboard high above the track’s spectator side on Sunday morning, June 11, 2023. 

Schumacher joins his father, Don Schumacher, who was inducted in 2014. he is the 20th inductee into the prestigious group of drivers. 

“Not that we haven’t won a lot of stuff together, but this is kind of the first award that we’ve both gotten and that’s cool,” Schumacher said. “It’s cool because you walk around and go, ‘Okay, I’ve won Indy 10 times, and here I am looking at the John Force grandstand.” 

“At some point, you think, ‘Maybe I could have something cool.” 

“This is really the first recognition, and I appreciate it. It’s an honor.”

Schumacher remains the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history, and six of those wins came at Bristol Dragway. He is also the second member to be inducted while still an active racer, joining 2016 inductee John Force, who continues to compete in the NHRA Funny Car category.

Schumacher won six consecutive world championship titles outside of Bristol from 2004-2009. His incredible 2008 season, where he was named Driver of the Year for all of motorsports, was his best; where he won 15 races in 18 final rounds and posted 9 No. 1 qualifying awards, and never lost a first-round pairing that season.



Regardless of the location of his success, Schumacher credits the real unsung heroes of his accolades. 

“I think that it’s fun when your name gets put up on something, but underneath it, or with it, alongside of it, it should be all the people that have worked on your team for so long,” Schumacher explained. “I’ve had some great people that have given me an awesome race team, and awesome cars, and awesome sponsors, and awesome crew chiefs. Just a lot of people. It’s funny when you look at the one name up there and how many people it represents.”

Schumacher’s name will be displayed high above a track where his track record is as detailed as the facility. He reached eight final rounds with wins in 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2018. He posted runner-up finishes at Bristol in 2001 and 2016. He claimed three consecutive Bristol Dragway wins from his epic ’08 season through 2010. He also claimed four No. 1 qualifying positions at Bristol in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

“I always figured you had to be retired to get that stuff, so I was never in a hurry for it,” Schumacher said. “Bristol’s been one of those tracks where we’ve had incredible success. It’s just been a blessed track for me. And I love going there. I love everything about it. It’s one of those tracks where I love being there.”

And, with his induction into the Legends of Thunder Valley, Schumacher will always be there... even when he’s not.