Drag Illustrated Issue 178, September / October 2022 | Page 114

been a very rewarding situation for me . Forget about the championships and the many race wins that I ’ ve had out there . Those are all overwhelming numbers . I never imagined that I would win Indy in 1970 , no less the amount of NHRA national meets that I ’ ve won .
It ’ s unbelievable . Did you ever in your wildest dreams think drag racing would get to the point that it could support something like you mentioned , 11-12 teams , or even one that cost millions of dollars to run here in 2022 ? I never imagined that at all . That and I was wore out when I stepped away from the sport in ‘ 74 . Wife , children , wasn ’ t at home at all , racing cars over in England , racing three different teams here in the United States , and it was the right thing for me to do for my life , for business , and NHRA certainly grew and expanded from there .
I mean , the Winston days and all of those things that transpired after I exited the sport didn ’ t transpire because I exited the sport . Those are steps that took place and we have to look forward to the future . I never imagined that I would win one NHRA national race . When I won Indy in 1970 , I was blown away by that .
My crew chief at that point was John Hogan . God bless him , he ’ s passed away . But we created a lot of noise out on the West Coast the two years before that on the match race circuit , and it allowed me to go to Indy and win the Nationals against Leroy Goldstein and the Ramchargers car . It kind of set the stage for a larger career than I ever thought I would have . I never imagined even coming back into the sport .
There ’ s a lot going on at Don Schumacher Racing at any given time , far beyond the nitro team operation . Earlier this year , you unveiled your new crate engine . You provide parts to a slew of teams . I know you ’ re working on developing even more parts . Can you give us just a little bit of an insight as to what all you guys are doing right now there within the walls of the shop in Brownsburg ? I believe we have 35 CNC machines here that are building race parts , defense parts , aerospace parts , parts for the fishing industry . We have a large machine shop operation that ’ s probably 75,000 square feet right now . We keep pushing the race teams to different areas in the race shop because the machine shop keeps expanding . We have our own fab shop . We build chassis for ourselves and a lot of other teams . We have our own graphics department . We have our own PR department . We probably feed 2,000-3,000 people every weekend at the NHRA races in hospitality . We have a lot of tools in our bag that we use every day and have used every day out at NHRA .
There ’ s a lot of things that DSR continues to
do and will continue to do . We ’ ll continue to expand in the crate motor business . We ’ re going to come out with a number of them . We ’ re looking to come out with other parts for Dodge and the Mopar brand and just continue to expand the foundation that I ’ ve had with that company .
When I first started my Funny Car operation , it was with the Dodge Charger injected Funny Car . The cars that I drove on the street were different than that , but that was the very first Funny Car that I ever drove . I ’ m thrilled to still be involved with Dodge today and hopefully continue to build on that relationship and expand within their needs and what we can do here at DSR .
For those that don ’ t understand , could you explain some of the nuances and the inner workings of those B2B relationships that you brought to this sport ? No one is imagining that Don Schumacher Racing is feeding thousands of people a weekend , but that ’ s a product of these business-to-business relationships that corporate America historically has found extremely valuable , correct ? Correct . Today , you cannot sell a sponsorship based on “ Your name is going to be in front of all of these fans at the racetrack this weekend , and we ’ re going to get you TV coverage , and you ’ re going to be in magazines and newspapers and on the news .” It ’ s all really about B2B . How are you going to create more business volume for your sponsor or target the needs of your sponsor ?
Like the U . S . Army , they needed recruits . So you need to go to them and say , “ I can get your recruit by doing this , that , and another thing .” You can ’ t go to them and say , “ Your name ’ s going to be on TV . Your name ’ s going to be seen by all of the people in the stands .” That program was dedicated off of recruiting people that ultimately joined the Army .
You have to do that , whether that be with the U . S . Army or Wonder Bread . The Wonder Bread deal was all about having the truck drivers bringing the store managers out to the races . Because really the truck drivers were the salesmen for Wonder Bread that caused Wonder Bread to be at eye level versus up high or down low on the shelves at the grocery stores . That ’ s what that whole sponsorship was about . It wasn ’ t about having a polka-dot-colored race car out there .
Before we wrap up , can we just take a look at all those Wallys sitting behind you ? That ’ s a pretty incredible visual representation of all you ’ ve accomplished over the years . There ’ s a whole other area here in this race shop lobby that is covered with them – 600-plus Wallys we ’ ve collected over the years . It ’ s been an unbelievable blessing . I have no idea how it really happened . I put my head down , I worked hard , surrounded myself with great people , they did great things for me and the company , and I ’ ve been blessed . DI
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