Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 12, Page

By Jeff Burk
Photos by Ron Lewis

Whit Bazemore is one of the most recognizable and outspoken drivers in drag racing. He has a special place in the heart of the drag racing media as he began his career as a photojournalist. He is also one of the most dedicated drag racers in recent history as indicated by his career which began with a trip to the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School to get his alcohol Funny Car license followed by years of driving any Funny Car that he could get in. He eventually became an owner/driver of his own fuel Funny Cars, racing on an extremely limited budget and having more than his share of fires. He made himself into a quality driver and ended up in a series of corporately backed Funny Car teams, the most recent being a stint with the Don Schumacher operation. Now he is going to start a new phase of his career as a driver of one of Top Fuel team owner David Power’s drivers. Whit Bazemore has also earned a well-deserved reputation as an “old school” driver who answers questions very directly, voices his opinion, hates to lose and doesn’t apologize for that. We figured it was way past time to make him the subject of DRO’s InnerView. Editor Jeff Burk sat down with Bazemore for a chat. 

Let's begin with your leaving the Don Schumacher organization before the end of the 2006 NHRA season. What happened, how did it happen that you ended up leaving the Schumacher team early? What actually precipitated those events?

BAZEMORE: At Indy (during the U.S. Nationals) on Friday, Matco informed Don of their decision to take their major sponsorship to a different team and Don called me in his office at the track and told me. In the course of that conversation he said, “ I don’t know what I'm going to do, you know, like right now. I don't really have a car for you to drive next

year that's properly funded.”

I guess (Jack) Beckman had a lot of backers and they had already been talking with Don, I know they had been, Don told me they had been, about (Beckman) coming on board in a dragster. So I think Matco leaving presented Don with the opportunity to get Beckman and his sponsors on board pretty much immediately and he mentioned that possibility to me Friday and then again Tuesday after Indy. Then when I put my deal together with Powers, Don went ahead and made the decision to put Jack Beckman in the Funny Car right away.

So your joining the Powers team precipitated you getting out of the Funny Car early?

WB: It did in a way. I had already talked to Don about that issue. I told him I had a place to go, I had a good job to go to, but Don, to his credit, didn't want me to get out of the car early. Our new team had worked hard all year and we were just getting our team tight. We had just been runner-up at Indy and were performing great. You hate to do all that work, be a part of it and then let someone else reap the reward, but at the same time I totally understand Don's thinking on the situation. Don Schumacher honestly has to look out for racing and if there's a guy out there -- it doesn't matter if it's John Force, or some rookie -- that's never sat in a car, if there's a driver out there that can bring that kind of money Jack’s sponsors could to the table, then he's got to look at it.

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