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DRO: One would think that sponsorship offers would really come rolling in after a feat like that.

Not really. I ran UDRA as well as IHRA in 1987. The only thing that advanced my fortunes with IHRA after the 202 was that I demanded and got asphalt pits, no long tech lines, you know, I got treated like a pro, but sponsorship was going to be a different deal.

In 1987, I won the UDRA season championship in Pro Stock and I realized that I was really going to need a sponsor to race as often and as hard as I wanted. I hired Jon Asher as an agent, but he just couldn't get anything going for me. No luck. He finally asked me did I have any leads, anything that might be promising? I said that I had done a display for Summit Performance at a race and Jon approached them but came away with three rejections.

I went to the SEMA show that year and I figured, what the hell, I'll go over to the Summit booth while I'm there and ask company president Paul Sergi how we could polish our act up. Well, I ran into him that day and he invited us to breakfast and I showed him our proposals, the drawings of the car with the Summit logo, and I ran down what I thought we could do for Summit. He critiqued the pictures and said he wasn't going to sponsor our car, BUT that he would sponsor this man (meaning me).

He told Asher to get a hold of me, and that he was interested in sponsoring me. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. I was just overcome. Well, we built an '88 Chevy Beretta and off we went.

DRO: Why did you quit IHRA racing? IHRA Pro Mod racing seemed to us, at least, like Garlits and Top Fuel, a marriage made in heaven.

Well, maybe it looked that way on paper, but I really had trouble with those guys - the politics of the situation - and it all came to a head in Ohio. I had run IHRA until 1995. And at the World Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, I experienced an incident that made me quit the organization. I mean I just got up and walked away.

At that time, Larry Carrier, Ted Jones, and the other founders were long gone and they had different leadership. It was like, oh, Carlton Phillips, Jim Ruth, and others, I really don't remember who was running it, just that it was a kind of committee.

Scotty Cannon was the man in Pro Modified, and had won a number of races and set a lot of records. At many of those events, I thought he had done it illegally. I saw unbelievable things, I mean he'd make a great run, even an unbelievable run, and no tech. Robert Leonard, the head IHRA tech guy, got a lot of complaints from the racers, but he buried them. He didn't want to hear it. It's like if he ever did get a complaint on Scotty, he'd just go over and say, "Get some weight on that car" and move on. In my opinion, Scotty had a lot of shaky stuff going on.

We were at Norwalk and it was hot, one of those races where you wouldn't expect any great times. Scotty was No. 1 in Pro Mod with a 6.53 backed up by a 6.54; I was No. 16 with 6.67 and a 6.68. You couldn't run that quick in the heat, no way. The rest of us at that point were running for second place.

That night I was in line getting ready to make a run and I get pulled out by IHRA tech. I find out someone has protested me.

DRO: That seems weird. With Cannon that far ahead of the pack and with the way the weather was, you would think someone would've pulled his ticket.

Well, it gets weirder. I knew there was nothing wrong with my car, but the way these guys (IHRA) handled it. Man!


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