Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 10, Page

Let’s talk a little about your history with the NHRA.

DM: The interesting thing is that I never had a close tie to California.  I didn't even go to California until the first Winternationals I announced, which was in 1964.  Then it was just flying in for the weekend, announce the race and then go home.  Anybody who works one of these events, everybody on the outside says oh how glamorous it is, oh I wish I had that opportunity.  For the most part, you fly in, find a hotel, crash, get a night's sleep, come out, work all day, get out of the deal, find a place to eat, maybe stop by and have an adult beverage and then go to bed and do the same thing.  On Monday morning, you fly home.  You don't get to see any of the community, any of the town.

The only time I got to do that was when I went to work for NHRA and ran their press and media operation and was the advance man for certain national events.  We would go in a week or two weeks in advance and call on media and all that.  Well, you got to see some of the country then, but under normal announcing conditions, forget it.  It's five days out of your life and you see airports, hotel rooms, late night restaurants and a race track.  Sure was fun though!

Throughout all those years, is there a certain era that sticks out that is your personal favorite?  When it was just getting going or maturing or recently?

DM: Needless to say, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that the sport has transitioned rather radically from what it was originally.  I personally kind of liked the mid to late '60s and I described it one time. I wrote a forward for a book called American Drag Racing and in it I said to me one of the great attractions was that you could go to a race track every weekend and without fail you would see something different and it was a

period of tremendous creativity and experimentation and all of that.  I sometimes maintain, and it's only a personal philosophy, that back then the emphasis was more on racing your car and not so much on satisfying the needs of a sponsor and/or winning.  You always wanted to win, but I can remember way back when it was: Let's find someplace to run. 

Now, because of the growth of the sport and the transition to maybe a little bit more intense time because of the sponsor demands and the winning demands, you don't have the luxury of having months off between events.  You have to have a car that is competitive from the time you put it on the racetrack, and financially it is extremely difficult to devote a lot of time to R & D. 

Therefore, yeah, you are going to end up with cars that look alike because the one that works and the one that wins is the one that will be copied. (It’s) simple as that.  If there was another configuration that someone could bring out and it passed tech, which has gotten a whole lot more intensive in terms of rules making and I'm not necessarily at odds with that. I think that I've always had the philosophy that racers need to be protected from themselves because in a lot of cases some of the things the racers would like to do would be very detrimental in times of trouble.

Any examples you can think of off the top of your head?

DM: Well, like super light cars, extreme speeds, just a lot of little different things that a guy could find to make a car go faster and quicker. Can you imagine today a 6,000 hp car in a 1500 pound car?  It would be a rocket ship.  And everybody says that if your shut-off area is too short, extend the race track.  It's an easy phrase to say, but much harder to accomplish when you don't own the property and the guy will shoot you if you come on it.  Therefore, in a lot of cases you are land locked in the term of race tracks.  We all know the difficulty bureaucratically today of building new race tracks; it's almost an impossibility to get it past the bureaucrats and neighbors and all of that.  That's another time of transition from what it used to be to what it is today, but if I were to pick an era, I would pick those things, you would see these strange, strange cars come out and that is long before SFI, long before SEMA developed specs, anything along those lines.  The rules were rudimentary at best and most of the time rules making, unfortunately by the nature of the beast, is reactive instead of proactive.


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