DRO: WHAT KIND OF REACTION DID YOU GET FROM YOUR COLLEAGUES IN THE MEDICAL FIELD?
AS: I would tell them I'm going to race motorcycles, and they were like, "Right. Whatever." I worked the night shift and we had the big dry-erase boards. I'd stand there and practice my signature. They asked, --What are you doing?" And I'd say, "I'm going to sign autographs one day." They'd laugh at me, and I was serious. I think that's why I've been able to do what I'm doing, and this is the truth. I don't know if you believe this, but mark my words: If you believe that you can do something and you really believe it in your heart, there is nothing that's going to stop you from doing it. There was nobody or nothing that could tell me I wasn't going to be a professional drag racer one day. I was a stupid dreamer-- (that's) what everybody else saw in me -- and I believed one day I was really going to do it. When people ask you that question, "Where do you see yourself in the next five years?" and you answer whatever but in your heart you know you'll just be doing the same old thing you're doing now, well guess what? You'll just be doing the same old thing you're doing now. Whatever you truly believe is what you're going to do.
DRO: WHAT WAS YOUR NURSING JOB LIKE?
AS: My first job out of school, I was an intensive-care registered nurse at a hospital in New Orleans that isn't open any more, Ascension Hospital. Then I moved to Americus, Georgia to be with my race team, and I worked at Crisp Regional Hospital. I really enjoyed my job, but I wanted to be a racer. I worked part-time as a nurse and raced part-time on the weekends. I couldn't handle both jobs. It got to where I was working two or three days a month and that was it. I said this wasn't cutting it. We need to get a sponsor. We need to race for money. Those were rough times. There were a couple of years I went borrowing money from my friends and family to pay my bills but would not quit (racing). I said I know it's going to happen. It was just part of the struggle. Then, fortunately, we got Winston.
DRO: DO YOU FEEL A KINSHIP WITH YOUR FELLOW RACERS BECAUSE YOU STARTED WITH NOTHING?
AS: I know that 98 percent of the people out here worked their way to where they are. I sold my car, put my dog up for adoption, sold the house I was living in. I didn't care. I was having fun. Even if I wasn't making any money, I was getting to race. That's more than some people can say. Now I get paid to go to the races. I couldn't have it better than I have it now.
DRO: YOU'RE AN EMOTIONAL PERSON. ANY APOLOGIES FOR THAT?
AS: I cried when I won. I cried when I lost. (Male riders) throw their helmets. They throw their gloves; I cry. I'm sorry if they can't understand that it means that much to me. I have busted my butt to get to where I am. When I get up on that starting line, and I have the best team behind me and they've worked their butts off and they have given me the Suzuki to win the race and I red light, I have to come back here and say, "I'm sorry. I just threw your bonus away. I did it all by myself." That's hard. I cry. Then when I win, I cry because I'm so happy. I used to just cry like a stupid baby. If you're not like that, why are you here? There are guys I race against who say, "Aw, I don't care if I win or lose. I'm here because I have fun and I love to race." Well, that's good for you. But if I can't win, I'm not going to be here. Winning is what I'm here for.
DRO: HOW HARD WAS GOING THAT 1999 SEASON, WHEN YOU MISSED THE NHRA WINSTON CHAMPIONSHIP TO MATT HINES BY A LOUSY EIGHT POINTS?
AS: At the time, I thought I was being punished for something I had done in a past life. I though, "OK. You're not a good enough person." That year told me I was never going to win the championship. And when I left (Pomona Raceway after the finals) in 1999, I quit. I went home and I told them I'm not coming back. (Crew chief) George (Bryce) said, "Go home and relax. You'll get the desire back." I said, "I'm not going to. I'm tellin' ya, I'm done." Two weeks later, I said I can't do it. I can't do it to myself again. Time went on. I got so depressed I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to do anything.