In August 2012, I had a chance to speak with NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel driver and B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) founder Doug Herbert. Take a look back at a few pieces from this interview, and look for other driver interviews, in the future.
Top Fuel driver Doug Herbert is a man who wears many hats: driver, team owner, business owner, husband, father and charity founder to name just a few. One thing remains constant through all he does, however: his focus. “I try to stay focused on success at whatever I am doing and give 100% effort at all times,” said Herbert. “I don’t think about tough times. I have the vision for what I want to see and I just keep working hard to get to that point and make the success a reality.”
He discovered that focus early on in his youth, when his father, racing parts supplier and member of the Drag Racing Hall of Fame Chet Herbert, and his aunt, Drag News magazine owner Doris Herbert, took him to his first drag races. “When I was a young kid my dad and my aunt took me to several drag races and I loved it,” remembers Herbert. “I loved top fuel dragsters and wished that I could someday race a top fuel car when I was young, maybe 8 years old. I officially started racing BMX bicycles when I was 11 years old. As soon as I got a driver’s license I took my car to the drag strip.”
In spite of trying other forms of racing, Herbert came back to drag racing and Top Fuel dragsters, and in 1990 his wish to drive the 8,000 horsepower machines became reality, as he began his professional racing career. He also opened Doug Herbert Performance Parts that same year, and in 1991 he moved his operation to Charlotte, North Carolina, less than one mile from what has become zMAX Dragway.
With 10 NHRA “Wallys,” 20 IHRA “Ironmen” and more than 20 years of racing experience on his resume, Herbert has a number of favorite tracks on his list, including the one that started his fascination with the sport: Orange County International Raceway. “I loved OCIR because it was the first place that I saw a Top Fuel car run at,” said Herbert. “I love Pomona because of the tradition and the fact that I won the 50th anniversary nationals there and was also the first to run over 300 mph at the track. zMAX because it is less than a mile from my shop in Concord, NC. Bristol because I won my first Top Fuel race there in 1992 and was also the first to make a four-second run there and the first to make a 300 mph run there.”
Coming up: Herbert talks about the NHRA today and the B.R.A.K.E.S. program.