: Did that lead to your racing and becoming involved with the racing aftermarket? 

Vandergriff: It didn’t lead to my racing, it led to a job at Petersen Publications, which was splitting up into individual magazines.  I quit selling cars at Warren Biggs Chevrolet, I’d gotten tired of doing that, so when Petersen opened up their ad department -- Dick Day was one of the honchos at Petersen then --  I interviewed for the job as Car Craft’s ad salesman.  I didn’t get that job – Sal Fish got it.

But I had made an impression on them, so they brought me back to Petersen at Wheels Afield, their camping magazine, with the understanding that as soon as they moved Sal, I would get the Car Craft job, which is what I wanted.  Well, they wouldn’t move me because I was the only ad guy who had held Wheels Afield up as far as ad sales … and that wasn’t fair.  At that time Don Rachman was at NHRA selling ads at National Dragster and I guess he and Wally (Parks) had a little falling out and they were looking for somebody, so Joe (Pisano) told Wally about me.

While I was still working at Petersen, I went over and interviewed with Wally and the NHRA Comptroller, had a great interview then went back to Petersen and resigned – before getting the NHRA job.  I hadn’t even been told that I was hired at NHRA, but that is what I wanted to do.  A couple of days later I got the phone call and went to work at National Dragster.

: What was your impression of Wally Parks then?

Vandergriff: It was the same as when I worked for him and afterwards; he was a hell of a guy who was very dedicated to what he believed. 

:  Did any of your peers like Wally or CJ Hart or Robert E. Petersen ever think that drag racing would end up being a sponsor-driven business as it is, that generates millions if not billions of dollars?

Vandergriff: No, Wally’s goal in life was to get kids off the street, he was not money motivated. 

:  Did you have any idea what you were headed for when you went to work for Wally Parks and the NHRA?

Vandergriff: I did. (From) growing up in a little town like Joplin, Missouri, then moving to California and going to work for the NHRA, something  you dreamed about and read about when you were a kid growing up, I mean what more could a kid want?  And then to be with Wally Parks, I mean jeez, what more could you ask for? 

: What was your starting position at NHRA?

Vandergriff:  I was the advertising salesman for National Dragster but eventually I was in charge of National Dragster.  The editorial guys also worked for me, everybody worked for me and I answered to Wally.  I remember when he called me and said, “I want to put you in charge of National Dragster.”  I said, “ Are you out of your mind, I’m an ad guy.”   At that time Bill Holland was the editor, John Jodauga was there, all those guys… I said, “OK, boss.”  So that’s how it all started.