ARMSTRONG: Yeah, you gotta think that there are times when that car makes a good run, he's thinking, God I wish I was still in there rather than just standing here. Like Snake. He isn't that way, he wouldn't want to drive again for nothing. When I got out I wouldn't never want to do it again, I was over it, but guys like Garlits, he still wants to get in there. . . . He wants to go 300 and I think the thing that ignited that was when Chris Karamesines did, so he wants to do it. And you know what the old man's like -- he gets out there and he's competitive, boy.
DRO: He still seems to have that fire.
ARMSTRONG: He does, he does, and I've never seen anyone like him. I've been down at the end of the strip sometimes -- you know, you run right after him or something -- he's still down at the other end, going around the car a hundred miles an hour, you know, wrapping the parachute up and talking and going. There has been talk about this Top 50 (NHRA drivers), and I said, that's gotta be Garlits. There's nobody else; he is drag racing. He's done it all, he does everything. He could build a car, he could drive the car, get it to the track, he didn't even need anyone, he could get a fan to drive the push car, and he could do everything. There's never been a guy like him.
DRO: Did you see the coffee table book, "In the Fast Lane," from NHRA?
ARMSTRONG: Well, I haven't gone through it, but I've seen it - a couple of fans have had it. I was up in Seattle, talking to Jerry Ruth and Gordon Jenner and Vaughn Hodgeson, the four of us standing around and that subject came up. It's a shame, it's a shame, and I don't really know how that happened. How it happened, I couldn't say 'cause I don't know for sure, but it is a shame. If you're talking about the first 50 years of drag racing, I can't imagine how you cannot talk about Don Garlits.
DRO: Moving now to a question about Toliver racing - how important is that chemistry? You were in and out of some teams and moving around a bit before you landed here. How important is your relationship with the owner/driver?
ARMSTRONG: It's real important. I was with Bernstein 16 years, I was with Snake for a couple of years, and now I'm here, so I've really only been with three teams. The Snake deal was fine, I mean I get along fine with Snake, it was just, uh, the atmosphere there at the time. I didn't want to operate in that atmosphere and so I left there. I mean, I knew the car was ready to run good, in fact, I told the guys when I left. Anyway it was one of times when you think, well, maybe I'll just step back from it for a few months and retire, or just see what I want to do, and that's what I was telling you earlier, then the phone started to ring.
DRO: And you pretty much get to pick and choose?
ARMSTRONG: Somewhat, but you get talked back out there. Jerry's
good guy. I met with him and I went back to Stamford, Connecticut to
meet with the WWF people and really make sure that it was as it was
and how they were behind it. I was quite surprised when I went back
there, you know, I watch wrestling sometimes, but I skimmed past it
sometimes and watch it other times and I have a friend who's a big fan.
Boy, when I went back there and saw their operation, it just blew me
away - as far as how big that is. We got back there and pulled into
this underground parking and we were going to go upstairs and I just
thought they had some offices up there, but it turns out they own the
whole building and like there's 350 people working there. I go up and
meet everybody in departments they had, like a script department and
art department and marketing and I couldn't believe it. Then we went
across town and they had another building, which was their TV Production
building and we went in there and there was about another 200 people
working. We went into one room and there was about 10 televisions and
a console and 10 guys editing all these films and putting it in different
languages so they could send it around the world. It's a hell of an
operation, the WWF and Vince McMahon.
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