Fuel Pilot Paul Romine
By Darr Hawthorne
Photos by Zak Hawthorne and Tim Marshal
Fifty-six year old Paul Romine is a veteran of the Pro Drag Racing scene. He
had driven just about everything with wheels including Fuel Coupes and
Dragsters. He was the first man to drive a nostalgia, front-motored Top Fuel
car into the fives which he did with the help of the late Clayton Harris.
Harris and Romine later teamed up to win several IHRA Top Fuel World titles
with sponsorhip from CarQuest. After teaming up with another IHRA Top Fuel
champion, Doug Herbert, to run IHRA in 2002 Romine has moved his act to drag
racing senior circuit NHRA. DRO Magazine West Coast Editor Darr Hawthorne
caught up with Romine at this year's NHRA Winternationals for his
DRO: How did your
current deal with John Mitchell's Montana Express
PR: My deal with CARQUEST was up this year and John called me after Topeka and said, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I'm trying to put something together with Doug (Herbert)." I really enjoyed my stay with Doug. We had a good time and it was a lot of fun, but Doug can't operate two cars without me having any sponsorship money and I didn't have anything and John said, "I'd like for you to drive my hot rod." I said, "I can't bring nothing but my helmet." And John said, "No, no, I just want you to drive my hot rod." I said, "I'll let you know." That is kinda how it started. It did look like I wasn't going to be able to help Doug enough and he and I talked about it and it's just a matter of economics, so I called John and said, "You know I could do this thing if you want."
So, we made our deal and as it turns out CARQUEST
came on as an associate sponsor with us and
we went to work on a couple of other things
to help John not have to bankroll this thing
on his own. We are committed to running the
whole NHRA series in 2003, so it's the first
time for me to be a "touring pro" rather than
a "regional top fuel guy." I'm really excited,
everybody's really excited.
DRO: Is there any way that you are glad to be out of IHRA competition?
PR: Well no, no I'm not glad to be out of IHRA competition, that's not even an issue, but I have to say along with it that I'm really glad to be over here (at NHRA). It's like asking am I glad that I got moved up to the Cincinnati Reds instead of the Indianapolis Indians; it's the same comparison. So no, I'm not glad that I'm out of IHRA at all, but I'm really glad to be here. It's only because this is the big leagues and if you talk to anybody that runs the full IHRA deal and has had some success over there, I think they will say the same thing. See we are professional racers, were drag racers and it doesn't make any difference if you have that oval that says NHRA or something that says Hooters on it, we are still drag racers and we want to compete against the best as many times a year as we can.
DRO: Do you think the level of competition is just dried up in IHRA?
No, actually I don't think that's fair. I think
that maybe IHRA people wouldn't agree with this,
but I think that there is a place for a sanctioning
body to bring people up through the ranks to
get some laps before they compete at this level.