Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 12, Page

How do you feel about the rev limiter? Has it affected you as a driver?

WB: I kind of got used to it, but when it first came out, it was -- especially in the Funny Car -- very difficult to adjust to. The rev limiter forces you as a driver to make a decision to be brave or stupid.  Let me explain. If you are going down the race track and the engine hits

the rev limiter, the engine sound changes and you have just a fraction of a second to try and figure out why it did. When you're going 300 mph and you're basically between the 1,000-foot cone and the finish line, it's hard to think about all those things. Why is this happening, is it because I just put a hole out? You want to know what's going on with the motor. So, back in the day before rev-limiters when the motor would change pitch or would “lay over” some you'd know it had a hole out and you'd know why. Well, now there's different reasons, so it forces you to make a decision, which sometimes isn't the best decision, to leg it through the lights because it may only be on the rev limiter, hopefully, and not blow up, but it also could be because of something else and it does blow up and catch fire. You just add an element of something you can't control. You can't really rationalize in your mind what to do.

Do you think NHRA has done all they can do to make Top Fuel and Funny Cars as safe as they can be?

WB: No.

What haven’t they done?

WB: You look at Funny Cars -- and this is just my opinion -- but I think the facts show that Funny Cars are the safest that they've ever been, so that's good. I would say that Top Fuel dragsters right now are potentially the most dangerous that they've ever been since Don (Garlits) perfected the rear engine dragster.

Why do you think Top Fuel cars aren’t as safe as they should be?

WB: Because the frames are breaking and there have been a couple of chassis that break every year. There are little changes in the (rule) book that will come into effect soon but not yet. I can tell you this: the new chassis spec rule that was coming for the Top Fuel is not going to happen. I wonder why, with all the crashes they've had, that they wouldn’t have a new spec.

Tell me how you're feeling about changing over from driving a Funny Car to getting into a dragster.

WB: Actually, I'm really excited about it. It's a new challenge and the idea of running 4.40's is exciting. I've been 333 in a Funny Car and that’s pretty fast but I’ve never run 4.40’s. I also am really looking forward to racing against new people. Being involved in a Top Fuel car is just different and I'm excited.

Several years ago there was a rumor going around that when Lee Beard was tuning your car, he wanted to get you out of the drivers seat. Is that true and if so how would that affect your relationship with Beard?

WB: First, it's not true. Beard actually saved my job at DSR more than once.

Really?

WB: Yeah. I mean, Lee and have a great relationship and if Lee Beard didn't want me at David Powers Racing, I would not be there. I would not be driving a car for Lee Beard or be teammates with Rod Fuller, if Lee Beard didn’t want me there.

Did Matco have some influence in determining whether you drove for the Powers team or not? Because there were rumors that Matco wanted you to be there driver and they wanted you to drive a car for them, wherever they ended up.

WB: That's probably accurate. They had a lot of input, but at the same time, if the driver/crew chief relationship isn't strong, the team is not going to be successful. I think every sponsor that spends the kind of money Matco spends would understand that, and they don't want to compromise the success of the team by having a bad marriage.

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