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DRO: So, where did your racing career take you next?

MT: At that point, I'd decided I was going to go faster and in my senior year in high school, I bought a little front-engined dragster. We had an open trailer, old dragster, and it was the same thing, for 15 or 16-hundred bucks you could buy a lot. I took the motor out of the Nova and it ran 9.70s, and that was 1977. I was just a kid with not a lot of money, but I had a car that would run pretty good.

In all the years I've been in racing I've sat out just two years, and each time it was just so I could afford something better. I sat out 1986 to build our first new Funny Car -- I started racing Funny Cars in 1984 -- and I also sat out 1980 to build a faster 8.90 car.

Anyway, I worked my way up through all the brackets and then I had a little altered that ran the 8.90 class and we had a series up there that was called the Mid-America Super Comp Circuit.

It's kind of wild now that we're here in IHRA because two of the tracks that we ran at back then was Bill Bader's Norwalk Raceway Park, and Thompson Drag Raceway that Aaron Polburn ran. So, I've known those guys for a long time and whether that's a good or bad thing for either one of us, I'll leave it up to them.

No, I'm just kidding; we're friends and we've been associated with each other for a long time. I know it's been good for Mark Thomas, and I think they've been excellent for the sport of drag racing.

DRO: Is that at least part of the reason you've been racing with IHRA so long, instead of going to the NHRA?

MT: Well, I had raced both in the late '80s and early '90s, and I'm what I consider just a working guy. I love to farm every bit as much as I love to drag race. Maybe I even love to farm more than drag racing. And I love my family. I love my wife and kids. I've been married 17 years and I have three wonderful kids, and growing up in the age of drag racing that I did -- sure it was always a powerfest, but it was also always fun.

So, whenever we picked IHRA, and I remember Billy Meyer and Carlton Phillips and all the owners we've had since then and the way things have gone, I've stuck with IHRA because I like the attitude. This is what we do for fun. And I'm not belittling NHRA in any way; they have an excellent program, but I absolutely love to race IHRA. I mean, I've been here longer than most of the officials have, and I have not missed an IHRA national event since the last three in 1988. That's when I started the IHRA tour, with those last three races.

To me, it's fun, it's excellent racing, we're friends, and there's not a lot of the corporate horror stories I sometimes hear about over there. You know, the "your guy can't talk to my guys" stuff or just some the bashing that goes on. But I'm not belittling them, because the guys over at NHRA that like it there, hey, more power to them. As long as you love what you're doing, I think it's great. I just happen to love what this is all about.

DRO: It had been awhile, so how did last season's championship feel compared to your previous titles?


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