Hometown: Highland, IL
Current Residence: Brownsburg, IN
Year hired at John Force Racing:
Which Team (s): Courtney Force
Background (education/work/racing experience): First job in motor sports was at Skuza Motorsports
Team Responsibilities: Crew Chief
Ron Douglas, who helped direct Ashley Force Hood to second and third place finishes and back-to-back Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Funny Car titles in her two most recent seasons in the NHRA’s Full Throttle Series, will try to work the same magic this year with her sister Courtney.
Douglas will serve as lead crew chief on the Traxxas Ford in which 23-year-old Courtney Force, the youngest of John Force’s four daughters, will vie for the Auto Club’s Road to the Future Award which designates the NHRA Rookie of the Year.
Sharing tune-up responsibilities with Douglas will be veteran Scott Wible and a crew consisting of Kyle Darr, Steve Easton, Mark Freidenfelt, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kullberg, Robert Proctor and Brad Robinson.
With 19 years of experience working with some of the most productive teams and well-known drivers in drag racing, nine as crew chief, Douglas brings a wealth of knowledge to his new role including victories with three different drivers in two different nitro categories.
Douglas, who had worked at Don Schumacher Racing, Doug Herbert Racing and for two-time NHRA Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon, provided additional crew chief experience that supported battery-mate Dean “Guido” Antonelli when the two hooked up to combine to make Force Hood a legitimate title contender.
“The preparation of the car is our No. 1 priority,” Douglas said. “We want to make sure the product is right before we ever take it to the starting line. We make sure the car is prepared properly and safely – that’s priority one. Then we’ll decide how we want to attack the racetrack.”
It’s a philosophy that fits solidly with Force’s vision for his daughter’s program.
Douglas began his career at Dean Skuza Motorsports in 1993 season. It was the perfect starting point because, as a smaller Funny Car operation, it gave Douglas the chance to do a little bit of everything.
“We only had three crew guys,” he said. “I mostly maintained the cylinder heads and top end of the engine, but we all had to drive the truck, learn how to work on the body and build the engines.”
It was on-the-job training and it provided a perfect foundation for Douglas, who worked briefly on Randy Anderson’s Funny Car before being hired as a crewman on Schumacher Racing’s Exide-backed Top Fuel dragster (driven by six-time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher).
“We started with nothing,” Douglas said. “We had a bare shop floor and in just a matter of weeks, we got a truck and trailer and built the whole operation.”
His work at Schumacher’s caught the eye of former World Champion Dick LaHaie, who hired him at Doug Herbert Racing. Working with LaHaie for six seasons as assistant crew chief proved fortuitous insomuch as he was named crew chief when LaHaie announced his retirement.
Nevertheless, having invested 10 years in the sport, Douglas felt like if he wanted to continue to advance, it would be advantageous to move to Indianapolis, which was becoming home to more and more pro teams.
As a result, he relocated to Indy and went to work as crew chief for Pedregon, whom he guided to a SummitRacing.com Nationals victory at Las Vegas in 2006. It would be his last stop before landing at JFR where he teamed with Dean “Guido” Antonelli and they won four times with Force Hood, helping make her the first woman ever to win an NHRA Funny Car race.