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At the time, you were running the Rodeck, what you were you learning then that you can look back on now and see how it contributed to your fuel success?

Well, in my racing career, we didn't have a ton of money. First we had a dairy farm in Santa Maria (Calif.) and later raised beef cattle and lost money at that, so we couldn't just go out and throw money around in racing. As a result, I used to port all my own heads, did a lot of work on our manifolds, and things like that.

When did you guys start working with that billet Olds that took you to the Alcohol titles?

Well, I had read about Keith Black building an all-aluminum Chevrolet block and we started working on one. I had some ideas about it; I wanted to build the heads and manifold for it and I guess I got rolling on it around 1987. That block and the heads really got our career rolling because Blaine won the 1988 Gatornationals Alcohol Dragster with it and things sort of took off from there. I started marketing the cylinder heads that year, the car was running and we weren't making a killing on our cattle ranch, so it was drag racing all the way from there.

If we stop at the end of 1990 when you guys won your first Winston Alcohol Dragster title, what could you say that you did better than the other guys in the class? After all, most of the winners were overwhelmingly Hemi users.

Air flow and the valve train are the areas that first come to mind. I think Chrysler has a terrible valve train; their air flow was good, but I thought our Olds (valve train) worked better. By 1994, we had our cylinder head business going great guns and that was in a large part because we kept making them just a little bit better every year. In 1994, we had five different designs of heads available. The improvements all came from little tweaks here and there.

It wasn't all one smooth move after another in the business. God, there was that time when you seemed to have a Supercharger of the Week Club out there. There would be changes in manifold designs and then you had these different helix blowers, and then after that the big massive PSI superchargers. Incorporating those changes into our act-the good ones we hoped-hampered our progress at times.

You guys went to Top Fuel in 1994 on a part time basis and then went at a full schedule in 1995. How hard was that transition?

It really wasn't that difficult, at least in certain areas. At the time, we were building a lot of cylinder heads for the Top Fuel teams, so we were at the cutting edge there. We were pretty good at the engine. However, learning how to burn the nitro? That was a little different deal. That was harder and it took us a while to get that down. In 1995, we did a lot better, but still didn't knock anybody over. I know we qualified No. 1 more than a couple of times [actually seven times], and we finished fifth in the world. Still, I could just tell that we were getting close to our first wins in this thing.

In 1996, it all came together, except for that one horrible moment at Indy, and I would certainly think one of the high points was your 4.592 national record at Topeka that held all year. How different is what you are running now compared to the 4.592 combo?

Well, the combination's changed quite a bit. Our basic principles, our philosophy has not; we listen to what the car tells us, use common sense, and in general continue ongoing education of learning how to race. I may learn something on the car at one race, and if it makes sense, we change our process a little to accommodate it. After four years of that, there's quite a lot that's changed.

I would imagine that the new 90-percent nitro rule has caused some changes with you guys as well as other teams.

Certainly, we ordered a lot of different parts, but over all our racing philosophy hasn't changed a bit. The 90-percent rule has caused a number of changes in the way the car runs. The car reacts differently; certainly, the clutch and engine react differently. The fuel system is much different because we can't run it as aggressively in the early part of track as before. We still make a good deal of power, though, but not as much torque. In fact, I'd say that right now, we make as much horsepower as we did at the end of 1998. This year when we were testing at Tucson, we ran 321-mph at 4,300-feet.

Is there less G-force total on the new set up?

On the average, yes. For example, we had a 4.48 best elapsed time and that was the only time we accelerated at 5 G's. On good runs, we normally pull four to four-and-half G's. Negative five when the parachute hits.

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