Volume X, Issue 11, Page 77

: You said that you won the 50th anniversary of the NHRA's U.S. Nationals and this feels 10 times better than that.

JH: I didn't mean that as a shot at NHRA. But, you know, we were treated as an exhibition class. I mean, when you get sent back to the pits from the staging lanes because an Alcohol Funny Car or an Alcohol Dragster oiled the track down, that kind of takes some of the luster away from things. But breaking that five-second barrier... I think that probably was the last big barrier for Pro Modifieds. You might get to 250, but speed, that's no big deal.

: You have the rivalry with Castellana and his gang, but you came up against a pretty tough customer in the final, too, in Rickie Smith. You were able to ignore his antics at the starting line which he is so notorious for and not just set these fabulous elapsed times but also to win. Scott Cannon, for example, had great E.T.s in the Pro Outlaw Blown class but didn't win the race.

JH: I don't know what happened to him in the final. I didn't get to talk to him after the race was over. But I'm sure it was either a mechanical failure or something there that cost him the race. But Rickie's Rickie. He's good at what he does. You go to the starting line, you'd better be ready for his tactics. And you know, I was pretty comfortable. We'd run so good I really wasn't going to let anybody get into my head.

: You couldn't ignore what he was doing. Rickie Smith is the master at playing games at the starting line, so you had to be aware that he was doing it. You just kept your focus. Did you tell yourself, "OK, it's Rickie, so beware" or would you have kept your focus no matter who had been in the other lane?

JH: To be honest with you, if you noticed on the videos, I kind of tried to -- you know Rickie's going to try to either stage last or double-bulb you or whatever. He's done it to me in the past. And it's all within the rules. I don't hold a grudge. It doesn't really make me mad. But you just try to beat a guy at his own game. I kind of rushed him then. When I knew he was going to drag his feet, I rushed him. I put the pre-staged (light) on and when he decided he wanted to pre-stage, I went right in and staged. So you kind of take 'em out of their element there, that's all.

: Rickie came over afterward, when you were doing an interview for 1320 TV and was spinning your hat around on your head. He was having fun with you, playing around. To Rickie it's just a game, just something he tried to get the advantage. It looked like no hard feelings on his part, either.

JH: I don't think I have any enemies, as far as other Pro Mod drivers go. They all work hard at what they do. Rickie's a good racer. He's probably the best guy around with a race car. He gets the most out of the least. When it comes to racing him you'd better have your head screwed on straight.

: And that class probably has a lot of drivers about whom you can say the same. We talk about the NHRA Pro Stock class or the NHRA Funny Car class being brutally tight. But these Pro Mod drivers have no dogs among them.

JH: That's right.

: Did you get spoiled that weekend? Or did you surprise yourself every time you did it?

JH: Well, it surprised me on the first run, the 5.99 run, in qualifying. Once we looked at the graphs and watched the run on video and stuff like that, we kind of felt like the thing would run a little better than it did. But I never dreamed we'd do it four times in a row.

: You spoke about Gene Fulton. You said he has probably forgotten more than most people ever will know about nitrous. Did this revive his spirits?

JH: When Shannon and Mike left Gene, they took some of Gene's customers. I don't mean -- when I say "took," they went with them. It probably upset Gene. But Gene's a good businessman, and he understands that if somebody wants to go to another engine builder that's his privilege. Business is business. Do I think it (the Shakedown performance) revived him? I know it revived him some. I know it really hopped him up when they made the phone call and told him we were the first one in the 5s. That was a big feather in his cap, and it was something that nobody will ever take away from him, that he had the first nitrous motor in the 5s.