Shelly Howard’s tragic accident at Tulsa [Okla.],
time for wheelie bars to be mandatory on Top Fuel and Top Alcohol dragsters?
LaHaie: Under the circumstances,
I can’t imagine one wanting to run without a wheelie
bar. I was against them until I ran one on Larry’s
(Dixon) car. I came over here in 1999 and it was already
on the car. Does it help prevent a blow over? I don’t
think so. These cars go so fast and when the front end is
up in the air, the car will catapult off the wheelie bar.
Our dragster has gotten up pretty high at times. Larry [Dixon]
is competent enough to save it. Not all
drivers can do that. It happens so quick, that not all drivers
can react in time. It’s something that there’s
really no way to test.
are your thoughts on the policy of slowing down the fuel
LaHaie: They haven’t
slowed them down. They’ve brought them into check.
Schumacher ran 335 at Houston, and we see Funny Cars running
4.60s in the 330-mph range. Show me where it’s slowed
Editor's note - Since the MSD device became mandatory
at Gainesville this year no Funny Car has approached the
4.60’s and no dragster has run quicker than 4.49.
long do you plan on being involved in drag racing?
LaHaie: As long as my health
is ok and I’m enjoying it, I’ll be around. Snake
and I joke about wheeling each other to the starting line
you damage more parts on 85-percent nitromethane?
LaHaie: No doubt that we
see more damage. On 85-percent, you have to do unnatural
things to the engine to make more horsepower. You’re
putting more pressure on the pistons, connecting rods, wrist
pins, etc. You run the supercharger faster. You have to build
a combination around 85-percent. The fuel might cost less,
but it’s supposed to cost less because you’re
only running 85-percent, but that doesn’t curtail the
cost of the parts damage.
you tune the perfect run?
LaHaie: The perfect run?
It isn’t just the tuning. It has to be the perfect
track, the perfect track temperature and the track has to
be prepared right. It’s density, altitude and humidity
and other factors that all have to fall in line. I don’t
know if you could ever get all of those factors to line up.
You could fire the best run in history and go back and look
at the data and see that there was 83 grains of water in
the air, and maybe if it was 50 or 55 grains that you could
have done even better. There’s always room for improvement
or at least speculation for making a better run.
and Larry Dixon have won 29 races together since you joined Don
Prudhomme Racing late in the 1999 season. Why has the
duo been so successful?
LaHaie: It’s not
just the two of us. It’s Don Prudhomme Racing. Snake
made a decision to put myself and Larry Dixon together. We
still had to figure out a crew. I wanted to bring Donnie
Bender because we had worked together at Kalittas. We kept
some of the crew that was already here and it all gelled
and worked well. It’s a team effort. It isn’t
just Larry and myself. It’s the combination of how
we race the car, how we prepare the car, how the crew services
the car, that’s a big deal. It isn’t just ho
hum, all aspects of the team are very important to having
a successful team.