obviously licensed and made some full passes in the car.
Could you comment on that and then how you got the ride?
Hight: I licensed after
the Topeka race, ran a 4.91, and then made some passes
at Maple Grove and Las Vegas at their fall race. I made
some 4.8 and 4.7 runs, and had a best of 4.75. However,
there were no plans to put me in the driver’s seat
like with Eric. Frankly, a lot of things, like sponsors,
you know budget, were being worked out. It turned out that
Gary would be leaving the team, and John told me if everything
works out sponsor-wise, I’d get to drive the car.
there any changes you had to make in getting ready for
a gig like being the third driver on Force’s team?
Hight: I still was working
on the car, and again, I was happy to be doing that, but
I was definitely excited to think that I’d be driving.
Really, the only change I had to make was that
year, I was up to 204 pounds. John didn’t want that.
He told me, “I want you to drop 30 and, without hesitation,
I did it. John wants his guys in shape, certainly the drivers."
(At the Las Vegas tests, Hight really did well. On Saturday
afternoon, he faced off with Force, and while it wasn’t
like a real race, one suspects that the wily boss wanted
to see what “the kid” could do from a side-by-side
perspective. Hight actually had the edge off the line and
beat Force to the lights, although in fairness to the champ,
his car went nuts momentarily at the three-quarter point
when it decided to shake hands with the wall. No problem,
Force gathered it in and learned that the timers reported:
4.765, 327.98 for Hight … 4.77, 324.57 for him.
As most know, late Sunday, Hight dropped the hammer and
got a 4.750, 330.55, which for the notekeepers was the
best speed ever for a first-time Funny Car chauffeur. Great
stuff, although there was one small incident. Earlier that
Saturday, the blower farted just off the line in what might
be described as Hight’s first mishap and he commented ….
Hight: I knew right away
that I lit the tires and I got off the throttle because
I didn’t want to do something like get the blower.
I’m not completely sure why, but my foot went back
down after lifting, and I tagged it. It could’ve
been momentum. Even with just a short hit on the throttle
you’re really accelerating and maybe when the forward
movement dropped, I put my foot down for balance, but I
did bang it.