DRO: How safe do you feel?

TOLIVER: NHRA 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.

TOLIVER: Jim 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 stuff.

DRO: How are you and Jim coordinating?

TOLIVER: We're 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.

TOLIVER: Hah - 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 --

TOLIVER: Until 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!"
Are we misreading you?

TOLIVER: Could be.

DRO: Are you more mechanically oriented than anyone knows?

TOLIVER: Drag 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 are."

DRO: But guys like Dick LaHaie and Connie Kalitta have experienced that feeling.

TOLIVER: Yeah, 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.

TOLIVER: Guy who probably weighs less than his wife. Little jockey -- throw him in there and hope he's got a lot of guts.

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