: At the U.S. Nationals?

SB: At the U.S. Nationals (that year) it was much, much more obvious than what happened with Force. It just so happens that now the media are right on top of it and it turns into a big deal. It (diving) goes on all the time. It goes on in every form of racing, it goes on in politics, it goes on in every single thing we do every day. That’s just a part of the deal. We just have to learn to live with it.

Now on the other side of that, the fact that Hight’s leading, that’s just a product of this Chase format. It’s what they wanted, it’s what they created. It’s okay, but that’s the rules. I think it’ll all sort itself out: when you get to the end of the year, the best guy’s going to win, and it doesn’t make any difference what kind of racing it is, the best team’s going to win. Usually you’re not going to find one little instance or piece of luck, good or bad, that’s going to make any difference over a 24-race series.

: Just to back up a bit, SEMA is basically perceived as being tied to the NHRA, and it is. We have so many sanctioning bodies and race series in the United States, do you see SEMA reaching out and trying to get involved with some of those guys, like NMCA or ADRL? Even Pinks is a drag racing program.

SB: Well, all those things are certainly viable programs. I wear a couple of hats here, and if I put my Comp Cams hat on, all those things are very good, very lucrative business opportunities for us. Now if you talk about SEMA’s standpoint, I doubt that they’d get that excited about it because when you look at the makeup of the 7,600 members, a lot of them are warehouses, a lot of them are jobbers, a lot of them are reps, a lot of them handle tires and wheels, a lot of them handle pickup truck parts. So they’re not really racing focused as much as our core companies.

Now, having said that, SEMA has a very strong council within itself, and the councils are made to serve more focused interests, and they have a council called the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council, the MPMC. Now that group is very focused on drag racing, mostly focused on NHRA, but they have some focus on oval track and so forth. But I think that’s where you see the outreach to the sanctioning bodies and the different forms of racing.

: Keep your Comp Cams hat on. Where is your core customer these days? Is it mostly NHRA, or is it way spread out? Is NHRA a big influence on what you guys do as far as your business goes?

SB: It’s hard to say. If you go out and look at the five or six hundred cars that will be at this race here in Memphis this weekend, if that’s the type of racer that you’d consider your NHRA business, it’s probably very small. The percentage of our sales that goes to that market is probably very small. Now one of the things NHRA did years ago, and I’m not sure whether or not they did it consciously, was to develop their Sportsman and weekly series tracks. There’s a lot of crossover between a bracket car and what a lot of people would classify a street car and others could classify as a race car. Fortunately, regardless of which side of that it’s on, it still has the parts on it that we make. So that market is very strong and constitutes a very large part of what our sales are. We like them all. You know, people ask me all the time who I like best and I say, “I like every one of them that has a cam!”

: What could the current management team at NHRA do to make drag racing more popular at a grassroots level? It seems to me that when I go to races, especially NHRA races, that the audience and the participants are aging. When I get out in the smaller sanctioning bodies, I see more kids. What can NHRA do?

SB: Well, you know I’ve talked to them about this, and there are a couple of different segments to it. At the national event level, I think somewhere along the line they (NHRA) made a conscious decision to change the demographic of the people sitting in the stands. It was a conscious, intent decision to go after a different demographic of person sitting in the stands. To maybe, I don’t know what you’d say… maybe ‘de-redneck’ a little bit the people buying tickets. If you look at it, doing that changed a lot of the things we do. It changed the message we have to display at a racetrack. What they did brought in different sponsors, and I really hate that word, sponsors, because we don’t really sponsor anything, we’re there to exploit a business opportunity, but you’ve got the U.S. Army there, and you’ve got the sunglasses there, and you’ve got all the things there, credit card people and on and on and on, that don’t have anything to do with racing. They’re there to interface with the people in the stands.