DRO: How safe
do you feel?
has done wonders in safety programs. Look at
Schumacher's deal and Scelzi's deal. In Funny
Car, look at Worsham's deal and Cruz Pedregon's
deal. Those were horrendous. Those are big hits.
It's a testimonial to Safety Safari that these
guys walk away from that stuff. Every time something
happens, hopefully we all learn from it and
we put one more improvement in the cars.
DRO: Your teammate
has quite a reputation as a safety advocate.
Head is probably one of the foremost guys in
safety issues. Jim's very concerned. Jim's an
engineer by trade, so he gets that engineer
mind going: "Let's fix this thing." He's very
analytical. He's the reason they've changed
a lot of things in Top Fuel dragster structurally
on the chassis. He's worked closely with Brad
Hadman on some of the developments. He's already
doing things to make Funny Car safer. That's
going to help everybody. So we're lucky to have
a guy like Jim Head, who has the mind for that
DRO: How are
you and Jim coordinating?
teammates in the sense that we're running the
same program. We're running our own separate
deals. That's Jim's own program over there.
This is mine over here. What bonds us is Alan
Johnson and the Celicas. We're going to share
information. Two heads are better than one.
DRO: Good pun.
- I didn't think about that! I'm going to learn
a lot from Jim. He knows the ins and outs of
this program. And he loves drag racing. He's
here for the love of drag racing.
DRO: He's quiet
you get to know him. He's not quiet.
DRO: He's not
one to stand up and draw attention to himself.
He seems to approach the sport from the analytical
side. You have always struck everybody as someone
more emotional, someone who's doing this because
. . . "It's cool! It's fun! It's a rush!"
we misreading you?
DRO: Are you
more mechanically oriented than anyone knows?
racing has been in my blood since I was born.
I wouldn't put me on the same level as Jim Head,
no. I do get into the nuts and bolts of these
cars. I learned a lot over the years. I learned
a lot from Dale Armstrong about these cars and
from my uncles [Jack and Art Chrisman] in the
early years. I was always mechanically inclined,
and I understand these cars very well. Am I
on the same level as Jim Head and Alan Johnson?
No. Maybe someday I would love to tune my own
car. It might be fun. I really think apart from
driving, that's the most exciting part of these
races is to tinker with it and put it on the
race track and watch it either fail or succeed.
And to know that you did that, that's got to
be very fulfilling. I look at these guys here
and think, "They're the smartest guys out here.
They're having more fun than even the drivers
DRO: But guys
like Dick LaHaie and Connie Kalitta have experienced
they're former drivers. I think you learn to
feel the car. I don't think there's a driver
here who's un-mechanically inclined.
DRO: You see
that more in open-wheel ranks.
who probably weighs less than his wife. Little
jockey -- throw him in there and hope he's got
a lot of guts.