Schumacher Racing faces $100K fine over nitromethane

Updated: April 13, 2008, 9:09 PM ET
By John Schwarb | Special to ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- Don Schumacher Racing was assessed the largest fine in the history of the NHRA Sunday, $100,000 for a fuel violation discovered prior to eliminations at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.

According to the sanctioning body, DSR was cited for "inappropriate possession" of nitromethane in its pit. NHRA rules specify that teams have only a league-accepted supplier of the racing fuel on site at national events.

Nitromethane powers Top Fuel and Funny Car dragsters and the NHRA has an official supplier, VP Racing Fuels, which provides the fuel to all teams. Schumacher said he has a different brand, ProNitro, which had been approved by the NHRA.

"ProNitro, based on verbal conversations with [NHRA president] Tom Compton and [senior vice president of racing operations] Graham Light, is an accepted nitromethane," Schumacher said. "I will appeal the fine through the proper process and go forward from there."

Schumacher said the fuel in question was brought from his Brownsburg, Ind., race shop to Las Vegas last October for a test session prior to the league's fall race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Not all the fuel was used, and the remaining portion was stored in Las Vegas. The team brought that supply back to its pit area Saturday to have it on hand to use in testing Monday, though Schumacher said it was taken off-site again prior to Sunday's eliminations.

DSR is the largest team in the sport, running two Top Fuel dragsters and four Funny Cars. One of those teams won Sunday as Cory McClenathan won the Top Fuel title.

Schumacher has a history with alternate sources of nitromethane. When the price of the fuel went up about six years ago, he arranged to import a less expensive supply of the fuel from China. He said the NHRA then wrote a rule specifying that only two nitromethane suppliers could be used (neither being his Chinese source), but that the sanctioning body said he could still use his imported fuel for test sessions.

"I'm a businessman and certain business situations create targets on my chest," he said.

John Schwarb is a motorsports contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at johnschwarb@yahoo.com.

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