DRO: As the
sport has gone more mainstream, is that spoiling
things? This sport was built on rebellion. This
is almost the last bastion of defiance.
Ace: I think
that's probably correct. At the tail end of
my driving career, (announcer Dave) McClelland
or (Steve) Evans would say, "You know, you guys
get out there at the other end and everybody
compliments your competitor and how great they
are. We need some controversy." I said, "For
20 years, you guys have been on my ass for getting
into it at the other end. Now you want a fight
down there, like we used to have. What do you
want? Make up your minds."
DRO: Does that
kind of wear on you, too? If you genuinely dislike
the other guy, great, but isn't it a pain to
have to manufacture hatred?
but we can't anymore. I'm not the hothead that
I used to be. But there's a still a button you
could push that'll get me there. But when that
happens, I can't control that. I've learned
to control it way better than I ever have before,
but when it comes right down to it, it happens
and then I get in trouble. It's lawsuits, and
it's fines, and it's all of that. Well, screw
what I can't figure out. In this age of excess,
of extreme sports and on the edge, in-your-face
TV and films and our culture in general, why
haven't the mainstream media caught onto drag
an ongoing question. We talk about what we have.
We look at corporate people to come in here
and they go to the starting line and they feel
something that they've never felt before. Why
hasn't that caught on? You go to a Cup race
and they come in their limo and they parade
through the garage and they go to their suite
and that's all well and good. I know we'll never
be what that is. I know we've made leaps and
bounds. Why it hasn't caught on more, I don't
DRO: It's the
vicious cycle, though. You do need Corporate
America to keep investing so teams and more
teams can afford to race.
Ace: I told
Jimmy Prock years ago, "I'm glad I'm not you."
He looked at me funny and said, "What do you
mean by that?" I said, "You're young. Your entire
life is in front of you. This is what you do.
You've got to put up with NHRA's crap the rest
of your life. I've only got to a few more years."
In one respect, probably the things I used to
go off on -- track preparation, different issues
I used to raise all kinds of hell about -- now
I look at it and I say, "Nothing I can do about
it." It is what it is. I can raise hell. Is
it going to change it? No. So I make my adjustments,
whatever it is I got to do, and go on down the
DRO: Look at
Rob Bruins. He didn't win one race the year
he won the title in 1979. And 20 years later,
in 1999, Tony Schumacher won just once on his
way to the championship.
not my desire. I look at the big picture. We're
No. 1 -- that's not real. Do I want to win a
it could be a matter of money.
Ace: At this
point, and again, we're just getting started,
as far as funding holding anybody back, I can't
use that for an excuse because there is nothing
that Doug wouldn't buy or spend if I said, "We
need this to do better." So whether it's Schumacher
or Prudhomme, do they have something that we
can't afford? No. Prudhomme doesn't have a blower
dyno. Doug does. Flow bench, all the stuff you
need, Doug's got it.
DRO: So technology-wise,
you and Doug have as much as the Schumachers?
Ace: Yes. Now
there's a little bit of difference, probably
. . . we haven't used that equipment to its
fullest potential yet. But we will.