DRO: So you've
had a "this-is-fun-again" feeling?
Ace: I had
time from when the Prudhomme deal ended to sit
down and look at my entire personal position,
financial and otherwise. I needed to make a
decision: What do I really want to do? Do I
really want to do this anymore? Do I want to
hang it up? Go play golf? Goof off? I'm not,
excuse my French, shot in the ass with gold
nuggets. But we're OK. More is better, but we're
OK. So I was at a crossroads. If I didn't enjoy
this, I wasn't going to do it. With all that
being said, do I want to walk away on these
terms, the way it is? Maybe not. This came about
with these guys. I didn't know how it was going
to do, but I said I'm going to try. We went
over and we tested. We spent a week running
the car. At the end of the week, I said I've
enjoyed this week. I'd get up in the morning
and I'd look forward to going
there, because this is what I want to do. I
want to make these changes. It's rejuvenated
me. I feel way better. It is a fun thing. I
didn't think I could be that way again. We're
just getting started. If we can progress, it's
going to get better yet.
DRO: When was
the last time you had this feeling of excitement?
Ace: I guess
something that sort of blew me away was we were
in the winners circle in Phoenix with Capps'
car last year and I was told, "This is what
you get paid to do." I know what we get paid
to do. I understand all of that. But this moment
right here, there's people who go through life
who never get here. So you know, you're in the
winners circle and you have to enjoy every second
of that because it's going to last just a little
while. And it's sort of like a low blow. "This
is what you get paid to do." When you can't
even come into the winners circle and enjoy
it, why are you doing it?
DRO: Did Prudhomme
say that to his drivers, too?
Ace: Oh, I'm
sure no. He is very loyal to his guys. Larry
is like a son to him. Larry worked for him through
the years and ended up going into the dragster.
Now, the personalities and lifestyles amongst
them, Larry is not at all like Snake. Now, Capps
is exactly like Snake. And Tommy's somewhere
in between. Capps is a good driver. I love Ron.
It's not fair to him everything that's going
on. It's a very secure position, and it's very
DRO: It seems
like Doug is always positive.
Ace: Doug wants
to go out here and he wants to enjoy what he's
doing. You asked earlier about the business
and the kids and everything taking his mind
off of this, and my reply was I think sometimes
that's good. Cruz Pedregon, I saw him -- he
was a good driver and then he got into he was
going to become more focused and more involved
and more everything, and he went right in the
tank. Doug has the ability to take one hat off
and put the other one on and step right in there
and become focused. When you hit the switch
and you start, Doug's ready to go.
DRO: Do you
see that in very many successful drivers?
Ace: I think
that the guys somewhat have to do that, to a
degree. Sometimes you can look at it and say
there are distractions and they're not paying
attention to what they're need to be. From my
own experience, and I did that for a long time,
trust me -- sure there are going to be days
when you're off, but when that engine starts,
you're there. I don't care if you've been off
for a winter stretch or a week or from yesterday
to today. You could make mistakes. I made a
lot of mistakes as a driver. But you can't make
a lot or you're not going to be there. I think
Doug does a good job, as far as letting the
team do what we need to do, being here, his
involvement. He'll come in and look and throw
his two cents in and be out of there. That's
good. He has to become involved. If it's not
doing what it needs to be, then it's his call.
Just like Prudhomme. If it's not doing what
it needs to do, you've got to make a change.
for the second part of the Ace McCulloch interview
and more on his career, Don Prudhomme and drag