ENNIS, Texas (Oct.6, 2018) — Veteran NHRA nitro car tuner Jim Oberhofer granted RPMHD’s Michael Dennis an exclusive interview this weekend during the AAA Texas Fallnationals at the Texas Motorplex.
Oberhofer, who was recently fired by Kalitta Motorsports, was working with the Kebin Kensley team this weekend.
MD: You’ve done this for 30 straight years for an organization and now you’re not with that organization. What is your mindset now, is it kind of cool that I’m not in the grind?
JO: I have a lot of great memories from my time at Kalitta Motorsports and those are things that I’ll cherish forever. In all my time (there), really, just one bad day of racing, the day we lost Scott. But it’s tough out here. There’s a lot going on and it’s a grind. It wears you down a lot. Right now, the only thing I want to do is I want to put myself and my happiness first and enjoy racing. Trust me, I’ve always loved racing. That’s never stopped, up until my last day at Kalitta’s I loved racing with that team and loved racing with everybody over there. But it was just time to look into maybe doing something different. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do. I’m enjoying spending time with my daughter. I’m very grateful for the opportunity Roger Hennen and Kebin Kinsley gave me to come help them down in here in Texas. This is where I’m from, so I get to spend a lot of time with my Mom and Dad and have a lot of laughs with Roger and Kebin and all these guys over here. This will probably be my last NHRA race for this year. After that my plan is I’m going to go down to Australia and hang out with my friend Bruce Reed down there at the end of the month, the first week in November and help them with their car. For me it’s been a long road. It’s tiring. It wears you down. It’s all good, I’ve got no complaints, no gripes, no anything. I’m just looking forward to what’s next for me in my life. If what’s next for my is going on a full-time team, great. If it means I’m working on a part-time team and spending more time with my folks, who are not getting any younger and I don’t know how much longer they’ll be around but I’d like to spend some time with them if I get that opportunity. So, there are a lot of things going on, a lot of neat things. People are calling me up and inquiring and I don’t know, it really just boils down to what I think fits right for me in my heart. Whatever I do, I want to get back to waking up in the morning and loving what I do and loving going to work and all that stuff.
MD: Working with Hennen Motorsports. Is there less pressure because it’s not the big grind, it’s a part-time team or is there more pressure because of your name and what you’ve accomplished with Kalitta Motorsports and maybe they’re expecting big things out of you?
JO: It’s less pressure. I could tell you that right now. The pressure doesn’t come from ownership. Connie was always really good and supportive of a lot of things. The one thing that Connie has over a lot of other owners out here is he’s tuned these things for longer than most of us have ever been alive. He was always helpful in that respect. So, a lot of the pressure you feel, you put it on yourself. You put it on yourself to perform because you’re going out here and it’s funny because I heard Bob Vandergriff Jr said it perfectly in a meeting not too long ago. He said, ‘I don’t want to chase five hundred thousand bucks, the championship deal.’ He’s looking at it as a business and it really makes a lot of sense, what he says. When you look at it that way you take some pressure off yourself. When he first called me up, he told me, ‘The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to have fun.’ He said, ‘There’s no pressure on you to make this thing run low ET or be number one qualifier or whatever it is. We just want to go out and have a good time. We want you to help us steer this ship.’ It’s been really great and it’s like, last night we went 3.88 and they were real excited about the 3.88 and pretty pumped about it and I’m looking at it like, ‘Man, we should have run better, we should have done this or done that.’ But then I thought, ‘Hold on a second, it’s only the second run we’ve made with this car.’ So, then I took a really then took a real hard look and I started appreciating the 3.88 a lot more, what we did, and then I started looking at it like, ‘Okay, if we do this and this, I think it’ll run a lot better.’ So, we made a few changes with the car today and went out and ran 3.8. I think there is a lot more left in it. It’s really cool because you don’t have a trailer full of parts from one end to the other, so you really have to appreciate what you have. I think it’s cool. I think it’s really cool in that respect.