:  What is your dad's involvement with Strange Engineering these days? 

JS: My father has let me run with it for over twenty years and he never interferes, but I would not say he’s retired. He still enjoys going to the races and checks up on most of the fuel teams. He still enjoys occasionally interacting with the engineers. He comes to work just about every day, and if not, he’s working somewhere else. He has a dedicated area in the back of the plant, where he works on his stuff, whether it’s wood working, restoring cars, working on our hospitality bus – he is definitely a workaholic and is one of the most overall talented people I know.

To be completely honest, he also gets stuck with some of our family projects as well; he is currently restoring a car for me. We still discuss work and if I am ever on the fence on something, I will ask his opinion and weigh it in my decision. Same with products- it’s nice to pick his brain on manufacturing, materials, history of products, ideas, etc… Just knowing that he is there means a lot to me.

I managed the sales department and worked the phones – I am guessing for about 15 years, while I oversaw the company. I always liked the direct contact with customers and our customer’s provided a wealth of information. I found working anonymously on the phone, most of the time, I got the best and most honest feedback about what our customer’s needed, expected and wanted. Right now we are going thru significant change in marketing and growth, as well as Oval, so I have not been able to work on the phones for a few years, but I miss it and will eventually try to get back to the phones on a part time basis, just for fun and to learn from more closely interacting with our customers. Right now I am gearing up for a very aggressive 2014. I have added three talented people this year just to cover web, print and social media – not to mention the additional people in shock development and oval, so that’s my current focus – tying everything together.

: Strange has been closely connected with the NHRA since the earliest years of the organization. What in your opinion is the biggest change you’ve seen in the sport in the last 25 years, both good and bad?

JS: As far as NHRA – I think the biggest change has been a noticeable shift from an organization that had more enthusiasm for the sport and now is obsessed with the accounting side. The genuine love of the sport is completely gone. That may seem like an over simplification of the change and problem, but you do not have to look very far to see in our industry, when “investors” purchased family or founder owned companies, most were disasters because they focused on the bottom line and remained ignorant on how the bottom line was created.

I think that holds true in general, even if you look outside our industry, take for instance Steve Jobs and Apple – perfect example of someone driven by his passion for the industry and profit followed, not the other way around. In our market, I believe this is heightened in importance. That is why NHRA is less relevant today than it was 10-plus years ago.

The other major change that I have noticed, compared to 25 years ago, with NHRA racing is that it has become more professional and more difficult to fund a car. Not to say that it was unprofessional prior. I mean, Gary Ormsby in the 1980s had a very professional car and team, just to name one. I guess what I am saying is that the cost of racing – both sportsman and especially professional racing -- have got to the point where it is getting unsustainable.

Certainly the economy crash of 2008 is still severely impacting racers, as well as sponsorships and the dollar amount companies are willing to invest. In the meantime the costs of NHRA professional racing are either escalating or have not adjusted to the reality that we were living in a severely inflated economy prior to 2008 and it will not just come back. So something has to give or change.

The current pro car counts are way down compared to 25 years ago - just look at Pro Stock. The same can be said for the fuel classes. In my opinion, NHRA really needs to focus on making itself more financially attractive to sponsors and inviting to sportsman racers and younger racers/enthusiasts. As well as concentrating on making NHRA a more alluring product so racers/owners have something to really sell potential sponsors on. There is no reason that NHRA cannot be a good value - they have a ton of pluses over its “sponsorship” competition.