Funny Car veteran and multi-time national event winner Phil Burkart Jr. will reunite with ex-pat Australian team owner Robert Schwab at the upcoming Four-Wide NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas behind the wheel of the TNT First Aid Funny Car.
Burkart and Schwab raced three events together in 2017 - Pomona 1, Phoenix and Las Vegas 1 - successfully qualifying for all three races.
"It's very rewarding to have the TNT First Aid Funny Car come to life in Las Vegas," said Jeff Midgley, founder of TNT First Aid. "This brings Robert Schwab and I full circle in a sense as it was 19 years ago at Rocky Mountain Raceway in Utah when I first met Robert after rescuing him from a terrible testing crash."
Working as chief medic at the track, Midgley was on the scene when Schwab suffered severe facial burns when his car caught fire after Schwab was knocked unconscious when he contacted the retaining wall. The heat of the fire was so intense his helmet was melting onto his face.
"Jeff and my relationship was etched in stone in 1999 when he pulled my unconscious body out of my Funny Car," Schwab said. "I woke up with Jeff yelling 'Can you hear me?' to which I responded, 'Get this (bleeping) helmet off me,' because it was burning me and I couldn't breathe. A lot of things lined up that day to make it possible for me to even be here today. I'm honored to now be working with Jeff to get the word out about his First Aid kits, BurnFree and the Virtual Medic phone app."
Midgley is a veteran medic and safety specialist who has developed a variety of first aid products for use in homes, businesses, race tracks and transporters. Moto-FAK was built from Midgley's personal experiences gleaned from his many years treating patients in drag racing, Indy Car and NASCAR.
"I know first-hand the most common injuries drivers and crew personnel get at the racetrack so we built the Moto-FAK with a focus on the burns, eye injuries, sprains and cuts I've been treating during my time at the races," Midgley said. "In fact, Burn-Free was a product we used on Robert's face after his accident. It definitely made a huge impact in his treatment and recovery and we're proud to have BurnFree joining us this weekend as an associate sponsor.
"In my estimation, no race transporter should be without a Moto-FAK. That's the main message we hope to get out through this sponsorship."
In addition to his line of products, available at TNTFirstAid.com, Midgley's sponsorship also will highlight his app Virtual Medic - a first-of-its-kind video-based app that helps users with step-by-step first aid treatments.
"One of the most exciting things about this sponsorship is this great app," Schwab said. "It really is something because no matter where you are in the world or what you are doing, if there is a medical emergency you will now know what to do. Everyone on the planet should have this app on their phones.
"As for the Moto-FAK, well we know racers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their racecars but usually very little on first aid. We should all be equipped to help ourselves and others when we're working out on the road."
Burkart added his thoughts. "I'm excited to get back in a Nitro Funny Car and I'm really happy to be showcasing TNT First Aid, BurnFree and Virtual Medic. Once you see their products you remember the value of being prepared for any emergency. We work in a dangerous environment out here and it pays to be aware of what can happen.
"I'm honored Robert has asked me to drive his car again. We have worked well together in the past and I enjoy the family atmosphere of his race team. Maybe we can shake some things up next weekend."
Based in Grantsville, Utah, and crewed by technicians from Wheeler Machinery in Salt Lake City, Schwab expects bigger and better things from his car this time out, mostly thanks to his own hard work with Head Racing.
"We had actually planned to sit out the year until Jeff and I started talking so we are excited," Schwab said. "Last year we were running an outdated clutch. Over the winter a light went off and it all became very clear why we need a stiffer clutch hat. Short on funds, I asked Jim Head if I could go work for them driving trucks and helping with the car maintenance to pay for the clutch I wanted. I have been with them all season so far and now have a clutch that will perform much better. There is a little quiet race going on with about four teams right now that have not run in the three-second zone and this event could very well be the first all three-second Funny Car field. We plan on being a part of it all.
"Chemistry is extremely important to me building this team. I believe the crew is like the front line of a football team, protecting the quarterback, and they all need to be working together. Phil has a personality that enhances this team's chemistry, and that's exciting when it comes to race day. It's a pleasure to work with such a quality driver and such a good guy."