Drag Racing Online caught up with James during qualifying at this year's U.S. Nationals, where Scott Kalitta was making his return to the NHRA Top Fuel battles in a Mac Tools/West Coast Choppers-backed ride.

DRO: How did your involvement with Kalitta Racing come about?

James: John Aden, the president of Mac Tools, and I are doing a lot of things together like my TV show, Monster Garage, and we were just kind of kicking around ideas about stuff we could do and we said, "Let's just start another fuel team."

We thought we'd do it with the Kalittas, since Mac Tools was already working with them, but we didn't know who we'd get to drive until he said, "I think I can talk Scott into driving again," so we talked to him. Connie was into it, Scott was into it, and we did it.

DRO: Did you have an interest in drag racing before getting involved as a sponsor?

James: Oh yeah, I've followed it ever since I was a little kid, going to Orange County and seeing Funny Cars and Tom McEwen and all those guys drive.

DRO: So you were aware of the Kalittas and everything they've done in the sport?

James: Yeah, Connie was always kind of a hero for me growing up and I remember Scott when it seemed like he was winning every race. But I think Scott was almost at the stage where everybody had kind of forgotten about him. But now, this is kind of jogging everybody's memory, like, "Oh man, I forgot that Scott was like the baddest driver ever."

DRO: You could say he was like the Larry Dixon of the mid-'90s, where if you went up against him, you were probably going to lose.

James: Well, I think he's a little bit better than Larry Dixon. I know Larry Dixon and my money would be on Scott.

DRO: As a designer, did you have any input into how the car would appear?

James: Yeah, and they kind of freaked out when I sent them the paint schemes for the tractor-trailer and the car, but I guess we won best-appearing car of the event, so I guess it's okay now.

DRO: I noticed the car has very unique front wheels, too. Did your shop make those up?

James: No, the Kalittas did that. They thought it would be pretty cool and I thought it was a great idea, too, because they always show the cars breaking the beams and there's nothing ever different about any of them, so I think it's a cool place for the logo.

DRO: How does it feel seeing your name and your company on the side of a Top Fuel dragster at the U.S. Nationals?

James: I don't know; it's a little weird. I was talking about this earlier with someone. It feels like just last week I was getting kicked out of the Winter Nationals for sneaking my own beer in, and now I've got my own car. It's a little surreal. But it's pretty cool. I think it's kind of taking the corporate sponsorship out of corporate sponsorship. You know, I'm just a welder-fabricator and kind of a smart-ass who's willing to put my money where my mouth is.

Previous INNERviews

Gary Densham — 8/20/03
Cole Coonce — 8/8/03
John Force, Part 1 — 7/16/03

John Force, Part 2 — 7/25/03

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