TM: Yeah, very much so. I think that’s really neat. I know the young people are really into nostalgia stuff. I see they’re building lots of cars. We’re getting ready to go to Bakersfield here, middle of October, for the NHRA museum nostalgia thing [California Hot Rod Reunion], which will be a big deal.

I know they have them all over the country now because I’ve been invited to go and join them like Garlits goes to them. Roland (Leong) goes to them, but I don’t like to travel. But I think it’s really neat. I know that Yeakle, Lou Baney, and Vince Rossi had the Yeakle car that I drove for a long time in the ‘60s that won a lot of races and had a lot of fun racing Prudhomme -- they’ve redone that car. It’s beautiful. Steve Davis did it, Kuhl did the motor. I like being around that car. They take it to Bakersfield.  I know there’s a lot of cars being rebuilt out there right now and I think the nostalgia thing is good for the sport.

DRO: There are some fifty nostalgia funny cars out there right now. Have you seen them, and how do you feel about those particular cars?

TM: I like them, but I worry about the safety end of the nostalgia cars sometimes. I think some of the guys get a bunch of guys together and build a car like they did 40 years ago , and I don’t think they’re careful enough safety-wise. They’ve got to be very careful, ‘cause you can still get hurt in these cars. 

But I think over all you’ve got guys, like the Plueger bunch and the guys that have the nice stuff out there. There’s junk and there’s nice stuff, depending on how much money they’ve got. I’ve seen them, I’ve watched them race. I watch them on TV when I can, and I read about them, and we do a lot about nostalgia in Drag Racer magazine. Randy Fish has got a real thing about nostalgia, and I know that (DRO editor Jeff) Burk and you guys like them a lot and feature them.

I think it’s good for the young people coming up to get to see what we did in the old days, how they tell stories about how we started driving. You know, the first dragster I drove was a 92-inch wheelbase with the engine in front of me.

Now they’re 300 inches long and they have no concept of what it’s like on the bad tracks with a little short fuel car like that. At night they had one searchlight behind the starting line while you’re racing, and sometimes that light would go out, and the shutoff was short. We learned the hard way; we lost a lot of good friends the hard way.

You know I got with (Bill) Simpson in the old days and the first parachute with Deist, and I invented the facemask with the screw-in filters with Simpson. I had a lot to do with the firesuits, helmets, all that stuff. So we learned the hard way over the years as guys got hurt and killed. Without what we did then, these guys today wouldn’t be able to do what they do, and I think a lot of people forget that, so it’s nice for people to learn that.