Alrighty, folks, it’s time to add a new ingredient to the mix at this online racing review! Just for a few minutes, let’s pull back the curtain and see what goes on in the lives of folks who make up this wild and wonderful world known as the NHRA. Yep, it’s time to start “Getting Off Track!”
So, what’s going to happen here? It’s simple: I want to let you in (Just a little) on the off-the-asphalt world of those guys and girls that make drag racing such an epic sport to watch and enjoy.
But first, let’s have a moment of “True Confessions.” I’m not going into the technical world here. If you’re hoping to learn more about holeshots or horsepower, well, ummm…sorry. But, if you’d like to learn more about what makes these personalities “tick”, then you just hit paydirt!
To kick off this little fiesta, we launch off the line with “The Sarge”, the one-and-only Tony Schumacher. Yep, you may know he’s won a total of 83 NHRA events, has a career best speed of 332.51mph, and drives his 10,000 horsepower land rocket like nobody’s business, but what’s his favorite guilty pleasure? Or, what makes him laugh so hard that he sometimes has to pull over? To find out, just keep on reading! Inquiring minds want to know! Let’s roll!
When you were a little kid, what did you want to be?
I just loved sports. I liked football because I was good at it. I wanted to be a race car driver, too. I used to watch those old movies like “Fabulous Floppers” and the people that would get out of those crashes and then stand up and raise their arms, and I just thought, “Man!” You think it’s about winning and as a driver you’ve got to win all the time or the kids won’t love you, but you know what? When I watched racing as a kid, I couldn’t tell you who was the world’s champ or who won the last race, but when they flipped upside down, man that was amazing! But, you know, I wanted to be a superhero, too!
Who is your hero?
Jesus. You can print that. I think it’s kind of cool, because I am religious. Several years ago was a great example. I kept telling people, “You don’t understand the position I was in. It didn’t matter what I decided to do then. We were 300 points back, then all of a sudden we’re 200, then 100 points back. Finally, we caught up, and how do you think that happened? You honestly think I got in there by myself and did all that?” I also admire firemen, soldiers, the guys that fly the Blackhawk helicopters. They’re risking their butts to take people to dangerous places to make sure the rest of us are safe. Then there are firemen who run into burning buildings to get someone out–99% of the population can’t fathom something like that.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
(Silence for 30 seconds) You know, there’s probably too many of ‘em. (Laughs) You know what? I eat a lot of gummy bears. That’s because a general started bringing them to me. That’s a tough question. I’ve got to come back to that one.
You’re being sent to a deserted island, and you’re allowed to take two music CDs. What will you bring?
Jimmy Buffet, Bob Seger. I love Buffet’s “Boats, Beaches, Bars, & Ballads.” I love the song “A Pirate Looks At 40” and the song “Manana.” Bob Seger? Probably his Greatest Hits, like “Night Moves”, “Like A Rock”, and all that.
Do you remember the first autograph you ever signed?
Man, that was back when I raced Super Comp! I signed and thought, “That was pretty cool.” When I think about it now and people say, “You sign more than anyone I’ve ever seen before”, I tell them, “The day you start to slow down is the day that your fans will decrease, and then later there’ll be no line.” I tell them, “It sure beats the alternative, which is that you could be someone no one wants to stand in line for.” You know, at some point your car may not be running good, but if you’ve been kind to people, the line won’t ever go away.
Talk about a person you’ve never met that you would love to meet. What would you want to talk about?
Great question. I’d love to meet Chevy Chase. He made a lot of movies that I saw when I was younger that cracked me up. What would we discuss? Probably how much fun it was to be in Saturday Night Live skits at that time. You know, when people get to know me they realize I’m a joke-telling person. Sure, I’d love to meet serious people like the President, but my nature is humor. It’s just the way I am. So, if you’re going to give me one chance to meet someone, I want to talk to someone who got to hang out with Dana Carvey, John Belushi, and all those guys. Occasionally, I’ve been driving down the road listening to “Blue Collar Comedy” and laughing so hard that I need to pull over because they say something that just kills me. Life is fairly short, and if you can’t laugh everyday, and often, then I don’t think you’re living it to the fullest in any way, shape, or form.
What are you doing when you’re completely relaxed?
Well, I’ve got three kids, so there’s not much of that! I fly radio-controlled helicopters, play hockey, I play all the sports. Some people don’t consider hockey relaxing, but I do. It’s my time away from the races. But, I love to watch movies, especially comedies. I watch a scary movie every now and then and scare myself to death, but I love a good comedy. I love laughing. To me, that’s fun.
Let’s say that A&E wants to do a reality show on your life. What do you think the title will be and what will we learn about you that we don’t already know?
Mine would be, “Get The Show In Quick Because Once My Kids Start Playing Baseball It’s No Longer About Me, And I’m Done.” Or something like that. Let’s call it, “It’s All About Kids.” What will you learn about me? One, I’m kind of selfish sometimes. When I get back from racing in front of 150,000 fans as nice, kind, and giving as I am, I need a little “my time.” On the other side, you’ll probably be blown away by how much I love kids. Just love ‘em.
You’re hosting a fantasy dinner party, and are asked to invite four guests, living or not living. Who will they be?
I’d invite Jesus. Absolutely. Probably a good comedian who made me laugh. I’d love to bring a rock star just to hear good stories, maybe someone like Vince Neil from Motley Crue. Man, you talk about entertainment! But, I’d also like to bring a four-star general who has been there, done that, and seen it, but I don’t think he’d like being there with a comedian and a rock star. And, I’m sure the rock star and Jesus wouldn’t have anything to talk about. (Laughs) You know, I think I’d like to bring the rock star just so he could sit across from Jesus, and go, “Man, I’ve got to apologize for all that stuff!”
Last question. You’ve been named President of Racing. You supervise NHRA, NASCAR, Indy cars, etc. Talk about your first two decisions as the new president.
Wow. My first decision would be to put Indy car and CART back together, because I want it to work. And second, I would give everyone in the world one free NHRA pass, because a live race is the single best event you can have in a day. It might be a financial sacrifice initially, but it would pay back a thousandfold. Plus, if I’m President, my salary would be big because I’d pay myself. Show me the money!