: Is that money derived from Hedman Hedders and C & J Energy and do those pay the team bills?

Vandergriff: Not really, not really. We try to make it pay for itself, but we don’t race for the big outlandish purses like NASCAR has.  We (drag racing) have been unable to capture the big money. You know a primary sponsorship on a Cup car is $15 to $20 million a year – over here you get five of them for $15 million.

:  Is there anything you think can be done to reduce the costs of a professional drag team?

Vandergriff: We are trying to do that now, but the problem you run into is we are running as fast now in a thousand feet as we were in a quarter mile.  Time-wise we are running quicker at 1,000 feet than a quarter mile. We have done all these things, but the ingenuity factor, the creativity, is coming back to replace the performance.

:  Is there a vested interest from Alan Johnson, Don Schumacher, Connie Kalitta and John Force keeping this the status quo since they are already invested with so many parts and pieces of equipment and computer programs that making a significant change would adversely impact their racing budgets?

Vandergriff: I think that has some truth to it, but knowing those guys the way I do, they wouldn’t be opposed to something to save money.  I know we are in a situation now with the new head (design) that was approved – that shouldn’t have been.  So is that a major performance gain?  Well, there is a gain there, but it’ll cost us $100,000 and obsoletes the equipment we are currently running.  So I think we need to be a little more cautious.  What made drag racing was the creativity of what a racer could come up with.  Racers always find a better way to build a better mousetrap and that has been proven over and over again.

: You’ve had some recent medical issues. How are you feeling now and what is the prognosis for your future?

Vandergriff: I feel fine. They changed my diet, but my question to the doctors was, it took seventy years to get my health so screwed up, so now that it’s fixed, why do I have to change everything?  Seems like if I can get another fifteen or twenty years, that’ll be fine.  You know they didn’t appreciate that too much, but it sounded good to me.

: This is our final question. How would you like to be remembered in drag racing history?

Vandergriff:  I’m just as a fellow who lived a dream he had as a kid.  I really did, I dreamt about NHRA, not ever working for them, but just wanting to be a part of the whole deal.  Bigger than shit, you’ve got to be careful what you wish for.  I’m from the old school. You are only as good as your word. You tell the people you are going to do something and then you do it. If you don’t – don’t tell ‘em again.