: Obviously, as the NHRA goes so goes drag racing. What do you see as the major issue with the current NHRA and what changes would you suggest be made?

JS: I threw out some ideas and issues in a few of the previous questions. NHRA needs to be more progressive, but mainly I would focus on the growth and concentrate on the younger demographic of teens through 30s. There are endless ways to do this. It’s difficult to answer without getting to know the entire list of personnel and how the money is allocated. NHRA seems fixated on what worked in the past and limits itself to “NHRA” as is and tweaking it.

To attract more sportsman and younger customers, maybe the day before the national event have a street-legal bracket race for “awards” and a purse. After all, what is NHRA? It’s a racing promotion/event company. Its strength is in the tracks that they own, so they should expand on what they should be good at.

If someone came along and offered a $1,000,000 purse for each pro category for the year and could line up tracks, where do you think the pros would go? NHRA does not own the teams. What’s left of the pro show? I know a $1,000,000 is an exaggeration, but my point is that the biggest change is NHRA’s philosophy, not what is said but what is done.

NHRA should care deeply about pleasing its customers because NHRA is dependent upon the sportsman, pro racers, car sponsors, product sponsors, etc., for the “show” - it should not be the other way around. I would start by surveying existing racers. The best ideas always come from your customers if you are willing to listen.

:  Has the current NHRA management made it easier or harder for sponsors and manufacturers to participate? Do they understand and address your problems? 

JS: They feign listening. It’s not even about easier or harder – it’s about offering outdated benefits and marketing outlets. It always feels like we are serving them. It would be much more beneficial for everyone, including NHRA, that we were treated more like customers rather than a nuisance. There are people at NHRA that do get it and care, but they have to serve as buffers for the people that decide. 

: Are you moving your sponsorships and marketing to smaller series where you can be more closely involved with the racers and fans?

JS: Definitely. We are researching other events for next year and plan to have more interaction directly with racers next year. We are also working on an interactive contingency program for some racing events that we will promote through our upcoming new web site and social media. I don’t want to go into to much detail, but I think our customers will enjoy it and be rewarded.

: In the last year or so Strange Engineering has become a major player with the oval track racers. What motivated you to make the technical and financial investment to get into a market your company hadn't been involved with before?

JS: We have been indirectly involved with Cup racing since the 1980s – we been manufacturing components that are sold exclusively through Ford – including our 9” cases. The Ford items are still exclusive through Ford; however, we have launched a completely new line of products and have a lot more on the plate for the future. Strange Oval has a different sales staff and is operated out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Oval is completely independent, other than manufacturing is currently done out of our Chicago area plant. My intention is to eventually open a plant in Charlotte for Strange Oval. Strange Engineering will remain in the Chicago area.

I wanted to get into the oval track market for a long time and a couple of people with a lot of experience became available to me, so I went for it. From a business standpoint, it allows for a lot of growth. For whatever reason, the oval track market in general has attracted a lot of people in their 20’s and 30’s that are either driving or working on the race cars, which is immensely important in the long run.