orely missed on the NHRA trail this past season
was veteran Fuel Coupe pilot Dean Skuza, a second-generation
racer from Cleveland who always could be counted on for a
colorful comment or humorous take on any given day’s
proceedings. In addition to his racing exploits, for several
seasons Skuza’s many fans also were able to enjoy his
insights and antics on the set of Popular Hot Rodding Television,
which he co-hosted with automotive journalist Cameron Evans.
Two-time national event winner Skuza last ran a full NHRA
schedule in 2003, driving his family-owned Funny Car to three
final-round appearances and finishing in the Top 10 in points
for the seventh straight season. Unfortunately, that streak
ended this year as financial restraints kept him on the sidelines.
This fall, Skuza spoke with DRO about his ongoing search
for sponsorship and what the future may hold for Skuza Motorsports.
What led to deciding to park your team?
Skuza: We ran
the 2003 season pretty much out of pocket, with a little
help from Cornwell Tools and Redline Oil. We had some associates
that were going to help us out again for 2004, but we just
reevaluated everything. You know, you hate to sit out because
it’s very difficult to put a program together
if you’re not out there at the track. But we decided it was in our
best interest to work hard at putting a good program together, a multi-year
program with sufficient funding, rather than having to go through the woes
that we did in 2003, which was not even being able to test and really not
having the funding to get the trick parts, maybe abusing the parts we had
one or two runs too long. That just makes it twice as difficult. You’ve
got to have a budget to work with.
Skuza last ran with major sponsorship on the
flanks of his racecar in 2002.
(Ian Tocher photo)
Did you reach that decision in the off season at the
end of 2003?
Skuza: Actually, in terms of scheduling it went
down to the wire. It was in early January  when we
realized some of the things we were working on weren’t
going to pan out and we had to make the decision.
That must have been very disappointing.
since I was 15 years old, this is the longest I’ve
gone without driving a racecar.