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Interview conducted by Jeff Burk
Join us now as we pick up the conversation that DRO Editor Jeff Burk had with Don Schumacher and Lee Beard.
The part of the interview is wide-ranging including PRO (Professional Racers Organization), nitro fuel, racing at 1000 feet, nostalgia and more. Open and frank would be the way you would describe the rest of the Innerview.
DRO: How would you feel if NHRA came to you and said, “Look the funny car bodies are unrecognizable to anybody but you guys. Next year, we’re going to make you guys have body lines that are recognizable as that brand.” Would you have any trouble doing that?
LB: It’s just the expense of changing our current funny car body airshell that you buy from either Roush or Metalcrafters. It’s about $40,000 for today’s autoclave carbon fiber bodies, so you take that, you have to mount it, put the sheet metal work in it, a square on it, windows in it, paint on it; by the time you get a race-ready body today, you’re looking at sixty, seventy thousand dollars. Each team has about three bodies or so, it would be a huge expense to say “These things aren’t recognizable, they need to be changed,” so again, it’s not the right economic things to do.
DRO: Without a GM presence, and with Ford being the only ones supplying their own bodies….
LB: That’s a minor problem.
DRO: But do you see guys running their bodies longer now, instead of having a new body by Roush and designed by GM engineers every year, a new Pontiac….
LB: You’re not going to see that development because it’s such an expensive thing to do to design a body, to build the molds and produce the body. It’s a very expensive thing to do. Team owners aren’t going to fund that out of pocket; it’s always going to be funded by the car companies. So you’re not going to see a lot of body development. The fact is, the quality of the bodies being produced today is so good that they can be run multiple seasons on the same body.
DRO: So we’re not likely to see as many small changes that they’ve made in the wind tunnels, to try and make them faster. We may not see that kind of development any more?
LB: You don’t have that kind of development any more just because of the economic situation with the car companies.