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Obviously, sponsorship dollars are very important, but what about the purses at NHRA? How important is prize money to a team like yours?

Skuza: It could be extremely important, but as it sits, it isn’t. Right now, if you do the math there’s just no way you could survive on prize money. But it’s not just NHRA; if you look at motorsports across the board I’m not sure there’s any where you could get by on prize money alone. It’s almost always been dependent on corporate sponsors. You see on the Internet message boards all the time, people saying, ‘Wow, look what 40th got in Cup!’ and ‘Why can’t drag racing be like that?’ But that racing is x amount of times more expensive to do and I’m telling you, if you put a pencil to it, it’s not all that different in terms of proportion.

But if you look at the way our sport has escalated over the last 10 or 20 years, I’ve got to agree with the general consensus that the prize money hasn’t grown with it. I mean, how about this? The prize money hasn’t even covered the cost-of-living increases, let alone the leaps and bounds the sport has taken. I understand their [NHRA’s] standpoint in they’re trying to grow the sport, but there is no sport without cars, and boy, with the way the economy is right now it sure would be nice to have a good increase [in prize money].

What about next season then, is it realistic for us to expect you out there?

Skuza: Yeah, it is. We’re very close with a number of companies, and to be honest, I thought we would’ve had something by July or August. The companies that I’ve been talking to happen to be finalizing their budgets extremely late, which is fine, but it usually takes months to get things ready.

We’re in a good position, though, because we’re turn-key ready. If we went to contract today, I could be ready to race next weekend. That’s how quickly we can react. No, we won’t be spit-shine polished, but we can be there and we’d probably qualify the car. I firmly believe that. So, we’re poised and ready to go. I just wish we could get something finalized so I could sleep a lot better.

If you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice, who would be calling the shots on your tune-up?

Skuza: Brian Corradi. Right now he’s been kind of working part-time with Jim Dunn. He goes to all the races and advises Jim and oversees the crew there. It works out good for both of us because it keeps him on our payroll and Jim helps out so we each get a good deal on the value of Brian Corradi himself. Plus it keeps Brian actively involved with what’s going on at the track and keeps him ready to go.

Are you looking forward to the 2005 season?

Skuza: I’m looking forward to getting back out there, but what I really want to put across is that I want to get back out there the right way. I don’t think I ever want to race again like we did in 2003, even though we did enjoy some success. Trying to do it on a shoestring is a big, stressful deal and not the way we want to race and not the way we want to present ourselves.

With a plain, black paint scheme in 2003, Skuza managed to make a good showing , but it was always apparent that he needed more corporate aid to keep up with the front runners in the class. (Ian Tocher photo)

Up and Down with the Flying Housewife,
Paula Murphy, part



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