DRO: What do you like best about drag racing?

Schumacher: Oh, the competitiveness and the family that's out here. Every one of my competitors is a family person to me.

DRO: What do you think is the worst part of drag racing?

Schumacher: Our inability to excel in the sporting world to where we should be on pretty equal footing as NASCAR. We were years ago and we should have found a way to maintain that position. We really have to work real, real hard to be able to continue to grow in the sporting world and take this sport to the next level.

DRO: What's the biggest difference between NHRA drag racing today and when you were a driver?

Schumacher: Oh, the professionalism of it today. It's a much safer sport. Yes, it's faster, its quicker, bigger crowds. But the professionalism. Corporate America being out here. What corporate America expects out of the teams, the drivers, the owners and the facilities and such. It's totally different today than it was back in the sixties and seventies.

DRO: When there were no guardrails between the fans and the cars. Those facilities that you ran on, it's a wonder more drivers weren't killed or injured during that period.

Schumacher: Well, every sport has progressed and this sport has certainly progressed also. Yes, there were a lot of things that were very, very dangerous back in the old days that we didn't perceive as danger. It was a different world back then, a different United States back then, certainly different facilities. Everything is so much safer and
better today than it was back then. It's really remarkable, but I think we all see that in our lives from when we're teenagers to where we are in our fifties, you see big changes in the world, but fortunately, that continues on. We've see big changes in NHRA drag racing and I'm sure that will continue on.

DRO: Are you seeing this as a transition period right now in drag racing?

Schumacher: I think you have the teams and NHRA and the sponsors working harder today than we ever have in trying to pull the sport up to the next level and elevate it. The teams are working hard with NHRA, and NHRA is working hard with the teams, with these task forces that they've put together, with the groups of owners and crew chiefs and such to be able to continue to take it to the next level.

DRO: Do you agree with Don Prudhomme that Top Fuel cars are unsafe as they are currently designed?

Schumacher: They are not unsafe. We need to make them safer. These cars do incredible things as they go down a racetrack. And it's a unique vehicle that has been built out of small changes over a number of years that allow these cars to go as quick and as fast as they do down the racetrack. We need to make the cars safer.

Darrell's death was a horrific tragedy, but I knew really it was a freak accident, that something came into the cockpit and it impacted him and it killed him. Blaine Johnson, that was again a freak accident where there was an opening in the guardrail for a turn off and, we've progressed where there aren't those openings any longer -- that was a freak accident that killed Blaine. We need to focus on what we can do to protect these drivers more. We are focusing on that. I do not consider these cars unsafe. If I did, I'd be gone.

Cover | Table of Contents | DROstore | Classifieds | Archive | Contact
Copyright 1999-2004, Drag Racing Online and Racing Net Source