So I don’t mean to be overly critical of them; they have some good people there, I only care because I love our sport and want NHRA to grow, perhaps more than they do.

On the positive side “grassroots” racing has significantly grown, which is extremely exciting. Racers have been finding other events to have fun racing at. When I recently attended an NMRA/NMCA event, it reminded me of how racing used to be - fun and run by people that really “get it.” I am sure just like your (DRO) nostalgia events. Being a sanctioning body and/or putting on events is not easy – especially when you are responsible for rule changes. But most jobs are not easy; the good people just keep working through it. We will be spending more time at “other” events next year and interacting more with our customers.

: Strange Engineering has a long history of direct involvement with pro racers. At one time in the 1980's Strange backed a five- or six-car team that included Top Fuel, Pro Stock and sportsman cars. Does Strange sponsor any race cars currently and if not why not?

JS: Yes. I want to say that we were one of the first, if not the first, sponsor to have the team concept in drag racing – Team Strange. My father’s concept and it led us to a lot of growth in the ‘80s. We had several top cars including the Chi-Town Hustler, which won two NHRA F/C championships under the Team Strange banner.

We do sponsor a few cars today- including Jason Lee, Candies and Hughes, Bob Curran, Gary Stinnet, just to name a few. However, most of the sponsorships are based on R&D and long-term relationships. We also have long lasting friendships and help quite a few racers when we can. I am extremely lucky to know a lot of really good people in our sport.  

: Your company has been through the good and bad financial times with drag racing sanctioning bodies like the NHRA, IHRA, and ADRL. Right now everyone will agree that drag racing is having some financial issues. What do you think is the general cause of that?

JS: The financial crash of 2008 surely did not help. I think that sanctioning bodies have not adjusted to the reality that we were living in an inflated economy prior and it is not going to return to that, so I think they have unrealistic expectations. They really need to brand themselves as racer friendly. As far as NHRA national events, I think they should reduce most of the races by a day – it would save them and a lot of the racers money and reduce time away from home.

If they are not going to reduce the amount of days, then maybe a money bracket race for the sportsman racers on the first day - make it prestigious to win. As I said that, I can just hear the NHRA’s response: “Who is going to fund it?” – which to me it’s obvious: NHRA should fund and promote it, show that it works and then offer sponsors a package. It would benefit everyone - NHRA, racers and sponsors.

After the financial crash, a lot of racers decided to cut travel and time away from home, so they raced more locally and at other events outside the major sanctioning bodies. The good tracks and smaller events took advantage of it. I think people realized what they had been missing out on: spending less money, respect, increased fun factor and more laps/racing. The sanctioning bodies need to compete with that in order to be successful.