JO: I wouldn't build an engine for my own race car with a hemispherical combustion chamber.
DRO: Your current car is sort of a "mail order" car in that it was built by Murray Anderson in Australia and shipped to you. You had a little trouble dialing it in at the beginning of the season. Would you do the same program again?
JO: Yeah, I would. I'm really happy at how this program worked out; it just took longer than planned. Originally, Murray (Anderson) was going to come over for a month before the season started to help finish the car and get it dialed in. His daughter had some medical problems and he couldn't make the trip, but we are plenty happy with the finished product.
DRO: Apparently Scotty Cannon is coming back to IHRA/NHRA Pro Mod competition. What are your feelings about that?
JO: If Scotty comes back -- and I think he will -- I think he will go right to the front of the class again. He will have a big budget and he will do whatever it takes to be a dominant player; he always has. I don't see anything changing.
DRO: OK, Jim, now the hard question. You've taken a lot of hits on the internet and in print about your relationship with Tom Anderson last year. Many people have said that he was the reason you won the 2000 IHRA World Championship and the fact that he wasn't around was why the team struggled so much the first part of the this season. Would you clear this up for us?
JO: First, let me say that this deal with Tommy has been the most disappointing thing that has happened to me in my 40 years of racing. You have to understand that I had a twenty-year friendship with Tommy Anderson. He wasn't just a racing buddy. We were close friends, I thought.
Over the years I worked on almost every car that Tommy was connected with, including the blowers and fuel systems on the Al Hofmann Funny Car.
When Tommy came to our team during the 2000 season, we were already ahead in the points and weren't struggling. Tommy wanted to hang around and that was fine with me. I'll tell you that we didn't change one thing on our chassis or tune-up that season because of Tommy, not one thing. Tommy did introduce me to Racepak computers and Ron Armstrong and for that I am grateful.
Because we were such close friends, I gave Tommy access to everything about our car: gear ratios, clutch set-up, engine components, cylinders heads, fuel systems, everything. I even let him bring his own set of scales to my shop and weigh my race car so that he new how much weight was on each wheel and I let him take my fuel system to his shop and flow it. I gave him access to our race car operation that I would never give to anyone outside the team because I believed we were friends and I trusted him. The thought never occurred to me that he would take the combination that had taken me, Billy Leverentz and Fred Hahn more than 10 years to develop to one of our competitors.
As for our disastrous first half of the 2001 season, I have to take the blame for that. I was bored with the Alan Johnson engine combination that I had been running for the last five or six years. I don't like doing or running the same thing that everybody else has, I never have, so I decided to develop a completely new engine program and build a new car for the 2001 season.
We didn't get our new car when we had planned and the new engine also took longer to develop than I thought it would, so the team started the season behind the power curve. That was my fault and I apologize to the fans and my team for that. I'm only addressing this subject because my team's reputation has come into question and I wanted to set the record straight.
DRO: Compare the IHRA and NHRA Pro Mod series.
JO: The NHRA Pro Mod program is in its infancy. They don't quite
know what to do with the class yet. Right now IHRA has a better program
for the Pro Mods because we actually race for a Championship, have a
big money shootout, and a strong contingency program. If NHRA were to
do all the things that they have said they will do, such as give the
racer a "Wally" for winning a race, give them a jacket or ring for winning
the points and pay contingency, then the NHRA program starts to look
very attractive. Racers like going to NHRA tracks. Indy is attractive
to a lot of racers, including myself. I like the fact that NHRA is going
to have a TV program dedicated just to the Pro Mods.
Copyright 2000, Drag Racing Online and Racing Net Source