It was that simple?
FORCE: I was
talking with [daughter] Adria, and she made
me realize it's all about family. Tony's like
my own kid, and I was upset. And she kept telling
me, "It's all about family."
DRO: How do
you think Tony will do this year?
may be the baby [youngest of the three Pedregon
brothers], but Tony's a survivor. He's smart,
and he's building his career. That heart will
carry him through.
DRO: How do
you feel toward Tony now?
always leave the door open for Tony. I know
I shouldn't, but I can't help it. He's like
DRO: Will Eric
be like your kid, too, even though he has his
own dad right there?
going to be just fine. You know, Eric said,
"Help me here. You know how to talk to the media."
I told him, "You have to be yourself. It'll
come in time." He's always smiling. He's always
got that grin, like he got away with something.
[At Las Vegas] I told him, "You've already impressed
people enough by running (4.70s). You've made
a good impression. The rest of it is just learning."
DRO: We all
know Ashley is going to drive Jerry Darien's
Top Alcohol dragster. How is that going?
hasn't set the world on fire. She's got a great
team, the car goes A to B and it's fast. But
anybody can be fast. For sure, I'm proud of
her, but I'm still worried about her. I've never
driven a dragster, so I haven't a clue what
DRO: That could
be good for her.
really likes the Funny Car best.
told that's why you sent her to Frank Hawley's
driving school, to see how she would react to
having the body lowered.
said she felt protected.
DRO: How do
you deal with the dangers of it for her?
doesn't really know what it's like. She knows
what's it's like to drive the car and go fast,
but she has never experienced crashing. First
time I did a burnout, I ran into the wall. She
doesn't know that sensation. That's why I want
her to get the love of the sport. I took her
for a ride [Saturday at Las Vegas]. In fact,
I kind of got my mind right. I've been worried
about people getting hurt and to think that
I opened that door. Some song came on and I
started thinking, "If this is what you really
love and you really want to do it, you could
get hurt. You could die. You see what happened
to Darrell (Gwynn, who was paralyzed following
an accident) and different folk along the way.
She's not really aware of what can happen. It's
terrifying to be on fire. I've been on fire
and trapped in a burning car. You talk about
a panic. You learn to know your car well enough
to know what to do. It's pretty scary, more
after it's over than during it. I was trapped
upside down in a car once at Pomona, and that
scared me. I was in the sand, and everything
went dark and I couldn't see. I remember thinking,
"This car is going to light up on fire and I'm
going to burn up in here."
DRO: So how
did you convey those feelings to her?
FORCE: I rode
around with her and I said, "I've been so worried
about you. I don't want to be worried anymore.
Do you want to do this?" And she said yeah.
You either love it and you love that car --
If you went and asked Shirley (Muldowney) where
she lived she'd say, "You mean, where do I sleep?
Because this race track's where I live." She
loves it that much. I said to Ashley, "If you
truly love it, you've got to become one with
that car." It only comes with time. I used to
sleep in my car at night. I got where I knew
everything in the car. That's why I didn't want
to change chassis [from Pfleuger to McKinney].
I still go by my other cars in my shop some
nights, and if I've had a beer, I'll cry. I'll
tell 'em, I'm sorry I left you behind."