I think drag racing is a much friendlier atmosphere. They treat the press better. It’s just a better form of motorsport. You get more for your money. We’ve got ‘em beat a mile. But some of us have to shape up our acts, as far as being fan-friendly and accessible. Overall, most of the drag racers do their job as far as the fans are concerned. And I would never want to be known as a number: “Hey, 29, how ya doin’?”

: Does that go back to the ”Cars are the stars” theory?

SM: That’s what Wally Parks’ thing was all the years, to keep us under wraps, to keep us handcuffed, to keep us from becoming household names, to keep us from becoming famous to the point we could say, “Hey, wait a minute – we’re demanding our rights.” He kept us in handcuffs all those years, as far as marketing, as far as souvenirs. He wanted it all.

Never, ever, ever say I was in love with Wally Parks. I treated him respectful, but I was never his fan, because of what he did to me, to us. He robbed me of my retirement, because of the stance that he took: The cars are the stars. That was the method behind his madness, and it worked. He got away with it. The cars were not the stars, and we tried to convince him of that. The man would not listen. He was no Tom Compton, that’s for sure. Wally was Wally.

: We’ve heard some buzz recently that the NHRA was discussing quarter-mile racing for fuel cars. Would that be good or bad?

SM: Really? Are they really? Aww – you made my day.

: So you’d like that?

SM: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. The reason I like it is it may separate the men from the boys. And it’s going to give the fans back what they paid to see.

: Any ideas about reinventing yourself these days?

SM: Imagine what I would be if I was a writer. Oh, my God – they’d probably be shooting me in my carport! Believe me, I wouldn’t last long. I wouldn’t make it out alive.