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DRO: But under the premise that we ARE going to slow them down.

LB: Let me bring something to your attention here, okay? When we first went to 1,000 feet, I was opposed to it, because thirty years out here drag racing, you get programmed. You think quarter mile is what it’s all about. But I want to bring something to your attention that changed my mind about it, and that is going 315 mph at 1,000 feet is safer then going 300 mph at a quarter mile. Here’s why. When they do 315 at 1,000, they throw the chutes out and are well under 300 at the quarter. They’re more in the 250 range at 1320. So the race tracks only have so much real estate for shutdown area. The fact is we’re safer running 315 at 1,000 than we are running 300 at a quarter. Okay?

DRO: I agree with that.

LB: Overall, what sells drag racing is the ability to say 300 mph racing. It’s the only motorsport that can do it. What I’m saying is that 300 at a quarter is not as safe as 315 at 1,000. So the only two classes that run 1,000 feet are Top Fuel and Funny Car. They run quick and fast, and that’s what made the sport. They should change the records and start counting the records at 1,000 feet.

DRO: I agree. Well, let’s take the hypothetical. People want to know. So let’s assume that NHRA, regardless of what’s best for us, is going to slow down the cars. They’re known to make these decisions without asking you guys, obviously, so I just need you to tell me if you were forced to do this, what you would recommend that would be the cheapest and the easiest to implement.

LB: Obviously, if you took away from the available traction that cars have, if you went to a narrower tire, you couldn’t accelerate as quick or fast on that tire. Because of that, you couldn’t load the engine as hard, so you wouldn’t burn as much fuel. You would have to back up on all of the tune-up parameters: the blower, the fuel volume, the ignition timing. All of that would make the engine itself more reliable. It would have a domino effect, taking care of itself without costing the team owners any money. We at Schumacher Racing, we’re not sitting on half a million dollars of tire inventory. We buy the tires per event. We are sitting on a lot of inventory of crankshafts, connecting rods, pistons, superchargers, cylinder heads, blocks, all of those sorts of things we do have a tremendous amount of inventory on, like a lot of fuel teams have. It would be tragic to make a decision that renders any of that inventory obsolete. But if we ran smaller tires, or tires with less grip, we would run the same components, we would just back up on how hard we pushed those components.

DRO: Lee, you went from overseeing  two fuel team operations  last year to overseeing the operations of five fuel teams now. How’s that working out for you?

LB: Well first of all, Don has five very good crew chiefs in place with Ed McCullough, Mike Green, Todd Okuhara, Johnny West, Tommy DeLago, -- they are all very skilled, very talented guys. What I am is the cement between those five guys. I make sure that if Ace’s car has done some testing or changed some components and it’s picked the performance up, that all of the other guys are aware of it, and have the option to go to it. I’m the guy that has to sell Don on it then. “We tried it out in Ace’s car and it worked. Now we need to switch all five teams over. It’s a heavy hit financially, but it’ll make us a better team.”

That’s really what my capacity is. We also do a lot of in-house fabrication, so I work a lot with the constructors and machinists there. We build a lot of components internally. So I’m involved with the R&D of new components as well as being the cement between the teams.

DRO: I’ve been told that the Ford motor that Force racing developed has some differences, physically, between the Ford blocks and the approved Hemi blocks. Is that true? I thought there was supposed to be a spec motor rule, that all the components had to be the same. I’m told that the valvetrain on the Force Ford is different from the Hemi.

 

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