Volume X, Issue 8, Page 105

: What do you see that could be done to bring more cars into Top Fuel or Funny Car?

DP: Yeah! Yeah, there’s a hell of a lot. There might be a system where the top-running teams might have to give another team a handicap start. You may adjust that in the lights. Let’s say you have a real bucks-down  team, let’s call him Steve Chrisman, for example. With all due respect to Chrisman, you don’t have a chance in hell of beating the number one qualifier, unless the guy smokes the tires, and that’s all you can hope for. It’s a foregone conclusion that’s he gonna win, but if you gave him an advantage on the Christmas tree, you could make it an interesting race, and that might bring more cars back. It’s just something to think about. Now NHRA hasn’t listened to me yet, and there’s no reason for them to start, but some of these guys, they don’t stand a chance with multi-million -dollar budgets.

: Do you think the new PR and marketing firms that NHRA have hired are the right things for NHRA and Tom Compton to have done?  

DP:  Oh my God, yeah. I wish they’d done it sooner, actually. IMG is a great company, and having them out here being part of it, it’s a big deal.

:  Have you already seen some effects of it?

DP:  Oh yeah, we are talking more and more to sponsors. I see them (IMG) endorsing NHRA, it’s a big deal. We’ve seen that at Atlanta. We’ve had other agencies out there, and we’ve just hired an agency of our own because of it, a company called Copilot that’s handling a lot of our stuff for us as we speak.

: So that kind of visibility has raised all the boats?

DP: Oh, absolutely. It certainly has. I’ll tell you what, when a company like IMG sees the potential -- and there is a huge amount of potential out there -- people are coming out and seeing a race for the first time, they’re blown away. These agency guys are just in awe. Obviously, this is a bad time with the economy, and all the problems in the world, but the NHRA offers good value versus the cost of funding a NASCAR team and that is a good selling point.

  Okay, lets swap feet and talk a little about the NHRA management. What do you think of the job that Tom Compton’s done as the President and leader of the NHRA?

DP: I think that with what he’s had to work with, he’s done a good job.  When they handed him the position, from Dallas Gardner, he really didn’t have a lot to work with, as far as budgets and people and that sort of thing. One thing I’ve always wanted him to have is a bigger staff, one that has more involvement in the sport. They need more people on staff who understand the function of these cars, and understand the problems we have, and not leave it up to the prisoners to make up the rules.

: You think the new technical advisor (Vice President of Technical Operations Glen Gray) who’s been brought in from Delphi will help? Have you met him?

DP: I haven’t met him, but I certainly think that’s the right direction. I think it’s a thing they should do. I’m real careful with some of the technical advisors they have for the safety committee. I’ve seen it from the drag racers’ side, and they’ve formed that group. And those are all bright guys, but those are the same guys who got us into the trouble we’re in now, what with all the exotic parts and pieces for the cars.

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