Southern California native Robert Hight clinched his second Funny Car World Championship. He won his first eight years ago in 2009 at this very event. It’s a special occasion not just because it’s his second championship, but it came at his primary sponsor’s event, the Auto Club Finals.
Hight has quite the history with the sport of drag racing. A fan since his youth, he became a clutch specialist for John Force and served as such during seven of John Force’s championships (1995-2001). Hight was then promoted to facility manager of Force’s Yorba Linda headquarters. He went on to get his Funny Car license in 2004 and became a test driver before stepping into the role of a full-time driver in 2005.
Robert Hight and his team got off to a lackluster start to the season and failed to make it out of the first and second rounds of competition. Yet somehow they managed to turn their luck around and showed a rather strong car during the second half of the season with eight No. 1 qualifying positions, four national event wins, and reset the speed record to 339.87 mph over the summer during the Toyota Sonoma Nationals.
Despite all of Robert’s achievements throughout the season, 2016 Funny Car World Champion, Ron Capps had a total of eight wins and a steady grip on the points lead much of the 2017 season. It all started to look possible for Hight during the Dallas event in the Countdown to the Championship.
With slip-ups from Capps during the last two events in the playoffs, the Funny Car World Championship was within Hight’s reach. He just had to be darn near flawless in order to get it.
During Sunday’s opening round of final eliminations at the last race of the season, Hight won his first round matchup against Tim Wilkerson, but it wasn’t over yet. Points-leader, Capps, had yet to run his opponent, privateer, Del Worsham. Capps went up in a haze of tire smoke at the hit of the throttle and Worsham drove right by for the win.
Understandably, Hight was elated over Capps unexpected loss, but quickly gathered his composure before the swarm of media could get to him. As Capps got out of his car in the shutdown area, he went up to Hight, offered his congrats, and offered him an embrace before leaving Hight so that he could celebrate his achievement.
“Everybody worked their tale off and was quiet and knew they had a job to do,” said Hight. “This is just huge for John Force Racing. For a couple of years we have struggled but it is such great group.” He continued, “We signed a long term deal with Auto Club and they deserve better than what we were giving them. Jimmy Prock (crew cheif), Chris Cunningham (co-crew chief)— they got us back in the game. It’s been long time and you want to do it so bad.”
Hight and his teammate, Brittany Force, just gave their team, John Force Racing, its first double-up championship season. Force won the 2017 Top Fuel World Championship.