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DRO: You've talked about your "Pro Stock brotherhood." How happy would Pro Stock drivers be to see Pro Modifieds elevated to professional status?

HAGERTY: There are mixed feelings about us getting a pro-category classification. They think that it's going to take some of the shine away from what they do. They're active -- actively pursuing with NHRA and the Big Three, Ford, Mopar and Chevrolet/Pontiac, telling their people at race support to turn their backs to the Pro Mods because Pro Stock sells cars at the dealership level, whereas a '66 Corvette or a '37 Willys doesn't. They're always working against us because they're afraid we'd take a piece of the pie, which we would. I feel our cars are more exciting. They're harder to drive, they go faster, they have more crowd appeal. They're a little unruly. These cars are not cookie-cutter cars. They're very different not only in appearance and body styles, but these guys are rebels, non-conformists. That's why they don't race in another class.

DRO: Is that partly why NHRA is reluctant to embrace Pro Modifieds?

HAGERTY: They openly flaunt Scotty Cannon. Behind the scenes we all know Scotty, because we've raced with him for years. He's become more corporate because of his sponsorships, but yet he stays on the sassy side. He does like being the bad boy. I think NHRA would welcome that, as long as we're professional and held in check. They like the controversy. It makes for conversation and good color on the broadcasts. Pro Mods would give them all they could handle . . . and then some. There's some bad blood between guys here, because many of them are gunslingers. They shoot from the hip and it's wide open and they're rowdy and they do things sometimes in non-conformist form.

DRO: What's the reception you've gotten from NHRA?

HAGERTY: I go to Glendora quite a bit. I've been in everybody's office and talked about things and waved my flag and done my spiel. I think they want us, but they don't want to pay out of their own pocket. That's why a sponsor had to be found for the package deal.

DRO: Does it irk you that the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes, for instance, individually don't have to do that?

HAGERTY: In our ranks we've talked about that quite a bit.

DRO: But in general you're happy with NHRA's treatment?

HAGERTY: When we meet with them individually, they're very open. They know the difference between our cars and they follow with our performance. They ask us what the cars are like, what we like to drive, and they ask us about the cost involved. They do sidestep the issue about the tag of being a pro class. I think, as a whole, there's quite a few of them who do understand what we're doing. I haven't heard anything that was disrespectful towards us. There's a few people who make the decisions at the top and if you don't catch them in the right mood, we're just another bunch of whiny racers who want things our way. Not all of them have realized the true potential and value of our class. At every race they see the caliber of our cars, they see the fan following. But there is some hesitation for change at the top.

DRO: No doubt the pending Pro Stock Truck litigation has affected how NHRA can and does deal with you. When the truck class downgraded to sportsman status, you had to know that wasn't going to help your cause.

HAGERTY: There was sympathy here. Nobody here jumped up and down because that would give us an opportunity. I think they should have been given more notice, and it should have been done in a more business- and family-oriented fashion. There aren't that many teams. A personal phone call would have been good. A vice-president or assistant could have called and said, "We're sending you a registered letter concerning rules changes and class changes." I certainly wouldn't want it to happen to us.


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