Volume X, Issue 6, Page 100

: Is there a shortage beyond crew chiefs, of line mechanics?

AJ:  No, there’s a lot of kids who want to do that, and they generally come in with no experience and start at the bottom and work their way up. And the ones that are smart and work hard and stick to it move up. And the ones that aren’t get burnt out or flushed out. I don’t know that there’s a shortage of those people. There’s a shortage of people who know how to run ‘em, you know, competitively, but as far as kids coming into the sport wanting to work hard, there seems to be plenty of them.

: Would you ever have your own nitro team again?

AJ:  With the right deal, yeah.

: Funny Car, Top Fuel?

AJ:  Probably wouldn’t matter, as long as it was the right deal. It’s all good.

: You ran a Funny Car for a while. Would you consider that a successful operation?

AJ:  For what we had to work with, yeah. We had a body that was pretty inefficient. It was pretty good going in, but when we ran it, the NHRA tech department took away a lot of things on the body we used to create downforce. So it was kinda not really competitive, and we were way underfunded!  We couldn’t do the things it takes to run competitively. But, you know, we made a few final rounds, had some number one qualifiers, so we did okay. For what we had, I think it was successful.

: I’ve heard that you still have the desire to go Funny Car racing. Would it simply be a matter of funding? If Don Schumacher decided to walk away from drag racing, would you consider running a Funny Car again?

AJ:  Yeah but it would have to be the right deal, and enough money to do it, and in this day and age, it’s kind of hard to get enough money to do it right.

: How difficult do you think it would be to secure a sponsor for you?

AJ:  I don’t even know of any and it’s not that easy to find them. They’re hard to come by. How many new ones are there out there? There’s the Rockstar thing, which is barely big enough, the Monster thing, which is decent, still… you know. They’re probably not big enough for my taste.

: And Beckman’s sponsorship?

AJ:  It’s not that much.

: Not enough to field the car on its own?

AJ:  Well, you know. fielding a car is one thing. But I’m not interested in fielding a car unless I have enough money to run it competitively, and still have money to put in the bank when I’m done.

: If you weren’t racing nitro cars, what would you be doing?

AJ:  If I wasn’t racing nitro cars, I‘d still be working in my shop here, building parts for people who do.

: Would you follow the NHRA show then?

AJ:  Certainly I would, because, you know, I have to stay in contact with my customers. So I would still go to a number of races. Probably not all 23, 24 this year, but I’d go to a number of races.

: What’s your opinion of the NHRA purse structure, and what could be done differently?

AJ:  Well, drivers always want more money. What can they do about it? Well, I think they need to somehow get together, PRO and NHRA, and that’s a subject between them all of the time, so they need to somehow figure it out. I’m not an owner right now, so I can’t really give anyone any advice on it.

End Part 1. In the next installment Alan Johnson gives his views on spec engines and tires, rev limiters, and his place in the history of drag racing, among other things.  

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