NHRA press conference at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis to preview the 54th annual Mac tools U.S. Nationals August 28. 2008 Drivers include Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools dragster Larry Dixon, U.S. Smokeless dragster Andrew Hines, Screamin'...
NHRA press conference at Monument Circle in
downtown Indianapolis to preview the 54th annual Mac tools U.S. Nationals
August 28. 2008
Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools dragster
Larry Dixon, U.S. Smokeless dragster
Andrew Hines, Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson
Morgan Lucas, Lucas Oil dragster
Tim Wilkerson, Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy
Ashley Force, Castrol GTX Ford
John Force, Castrol GTX Ford
THE MODERATOR: This is the driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel machine, part of the great team Kalitta Enterprise, got 30 national event wins and a perennial runner in the POWERade Top 10, went to the final round here a couple years ago. His uncle Connie Kalitta won this race a couple times. How about a nice round of applause for Doug Kalitta.
First of all, this is one that you would like to put in the "done" category, winning the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
DOUG KALITTA: Yeah, it would really mean a lot to my team and my sponsor (Mac Tools), Uncle Conrad Kalitta, he was fortunate to win this thing, and he's one up on me with this place here, so hopefully we can have a great run out here.
We're also trying to stay in the Top 10. We're right there on the bubble, and you know, I'm real encouraged with my team right now. We're running -- we've got some good consistency going here with getting down on the track. So hopefully it'll be a great event for us.
THE MODERATOR: You've been on both ends of the emotional spectrum, one run away from winning the championship and basically now one run away from qualifying for the Countdown. You've been doing this for a long while. Do you get nervous going into a race like this where you know you need to do well to make the Countdown?
DOUG KALITTA: Yeah, you try not to let it get to you too much or let any of the drivers see that it's getting to you. You just go out there and do the best you can and hope for the best. Fortunately I've got a great team and a great sponsor with Mac Tools, and we're hoping to get it done.
THE MODERATOR: Next driver that you'd like to talk to knows what it's like to win this race. He's a great historian and lover of the history of the sport. In his rookie season in 1995 he came here and won the U.S. Nationals. He then did it two more times, twice. He has also been in the final round including last year. Driver of one of the great teams in drag racing, drives for Don Prudhomme for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, and right now an Indianapolis resident. How about of a nice round of applause for Larry Dixon.
Larry, I always say that there are few people out there that have been able to put this on their "hey, we won this category," we won the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. You did it three times, including a very emotional in your rookie season. That had to be so cool.
LARRY DIXON: Yeah, just before you can get a chance to worry about it, we were fortunate enough to win that way back in 1995. It was a great way to start out, obviously.
THE MODERATOR: You've got a great race car. You have a chance to finish as high as second in the points in that Countdown to the Championship. That can mean an extra ten bonus points, the difference between second and third. Is that your goal for this weekend or are you strictly focused on winning the race?
LARRY DIXON: Well, if you go out there and win the race, the points will take care of themselves; you've done everything you can do. And I'm sure everybody is trying to do the same thing. For me at least, I don't think about points this weekend, you're just trying to get that trophy. It's the one that matters the most, I think, for anybody who races in drag racing. So we're going to go out there, do our best, see how it shakes out.
THE MODERATOR: You're also one of the few guys who could be racing your next-door neighbors. Tell the folks from this area exactly where you live and who else is in your community.
LARRY DIXON: Gosh, I actually live in Avon, which is on the west side near the airport. Just in our neighborhood you've got Bruce Litton and Lee Beard, and you go one subdivision over and you've got Tommy Johnson and Jimmy Prock and Dickie Venables and Ace McCulloch, so I mean, it's a great place.
You know, growing up in the sport, you know, traveling with my parents to all the different races, but you'd always go home and it would be like going back to civilian life. Now we moved to Indianapolis almost ten years ago full-time. This is racing heaven, living here, and I'm just proud to raise my family here and call this our home.
THE MODERATOR: You're driving for Don Prudhomme. Does Don keep reminding you how many times he won this race?
LARRY DIXON: Yeah, just about every day. I can't catch him because he's the team owner, so when I win, it just adds another one to his agenda, as well.
But it's all right. You know, he's been great to work for and really to be able to learn from him right out of the gates, you know, just as a rookie. You know, I never tried to take his spot in driving, just tried to learn from him and tried to represent the company the best we can, and now driving especially for U.S. Smokeless, which he spent the better part of his career and retired driving the Skoal Bandit dragster. I'm proud to be wearing their colors.
THE MODERATOR: Next driver that we'd like to talk to as part of that great parade we just saw coming in. He is a three-time POWERade champion. He has also won the special race for the motorcycles, the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, on three different occasions, looking to close the deal here at the big show. Another driver that's now living here locally, how about a nice round of applause for Andrew Hines on the Pro Stock motorcycle, Vance & Hines Screamin Eagle and Harley Davidson.
I'll ask you the same thing I asked Larry. Does your brother (Matt) remind you how much success he's had at this track?
ANDREW HINES: He does. He won the Ringers battle four years in a row, so he's doubled up once or twice. I can't remember how many times. But I'm sure he will beat it into my head before Friday. It's just great to be out here at the U.S. Nationals with the Ringers Pro Bike Battle because we get to race for money on Saturday and points on Monday. So it's something we're really looking forward to.
We've won the battle the last four years with myself winning it the last two, G.T. Tonglet before that and myself again before that. So it's in our history, so hopefully Vance & Hines and Screamin Eagle can get out there and clinch that win again. We've got both Screamin Eagle V-rods in this year. Eddie Krawiec qualified fourth and I qualified third, so we're on opposite sides of the ladder, which is a great thing. So we're just going to go out there and shoot for the moon.
THE MODERATOR: You're another guy now that's transplanted from out west, now living here in town.
ANDREW HINES: That's right. I live out in Avon. Like Larry said, you've got Larry in one subdivision, Dickie Venables and Jimmy Prock in the next one, and I'm the next one over from that. So we're right down the road from each other.
There's been a lot of people coming into town, now (Harley-Davidson teammate) Eddie (Krawiec) lives across the street from me, so everybody is here. It's local.
THE MODERATOR: You've done just about everything you can do in the sport except be the last man standing at this race on Monday.
ANDREW HINES: It's been tough. Our team just hasn't been able to come together on Monday and quite get to the final round. Seems like every year we have a gremlin, or I go out there and red light which has been the latest thing. I need to go out there and make sure the bike is 100 percent and I'll go out and do my best job.
THE MODERATOR: I want to thank you and all the folks that drove the Harleys here, that's a pretty nice selection of bikes.
ANDREW HINES: It is great. A lot of the '09 models are here. They just brought them over from the racetrack. We've got Night Rods and Heritage Soft Tails and you name it, it's over there. Go check them out. They're great bikes. I've had a chance to ride most of them, and they're really fun.
THE MODERATOR: Just joining us because he's been very busy here in this neck of the woods, a lot of you folks from Indianapolis, if you're not already familiar with the name Lucas Oil, you will be when they open the brand new stadium. I'd like to call up Morgan Lucas, driver of the Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster. Came by last night driving down the highway, looked over and saw the stadium there, and Lucas Oil name up top, and that's pretty cool, so it's going to be a busy weekend for you and your family.
MORGAN LUCAS: Yeah, it's already been a great week, and the game tomorrow night is going to be a lot of fun, but Sunday night, grand opening, first home game couldn't have went any better other than the team losing. But you know what, I'm just excited about this weekend and excited to be home here in Indianapolis with all these great fans and great people.
You know what, hopefully this weekend goes great for all of us. Would like to get in the Top 10 but I've got to get around Dougie and Dave, and that's going to be tough.
THE MODERATOR: Doug says you have so much going on down at the stadium you should just concentrate on football here this weekend and let that 10 spot go to him.
MORGAN LUCAS: No, I'm letting that all go with dad, believe me. I'm just going to concentrate on the race here and have fun with this this weekend. From here on out, you know what, it's going to be all about football and racing for the rest of this year because I'm a die-hard Colts fan just like everybody else in the city, which is just great. There's nothing better than looking at that crowd at the games and seeing an ocean of blue jerseys and people just hanging out cheering on their favorite team.
THE MODERATOR: And you guys will have the name of the stadium on your car this weekend?
MORGAN LUCAS: Yeah, we've got a pretty cool paint scheme in my opinion, we've got a lot of details in it tied in with the Colts' helmet and some other stuff with the Lucas Oil stadium logo and I think it's going to draw a lot of attention, but we still can't forget about our sponsors and Mac Tools. Everybody takes care of us, and it's fun to be able to represent your sponsors and come out and do this.
Our family is going to be here, and got some of the Colts players coming out on Friday or Saturday, a couple offensive linemen, so it's going to be interesting. We'll see basically hopefully this weekend if it goes all as planned, it just goes smooth. I just don't want any stress, don't want to do anything, no major trauma in hospitality or anything like that, so just want to have fun and relax and get to show everybody around and just, I guess, be a host.
THE MODERATOR: I think what you need to do is when a couple of those offensive linemen come out, point out Doug Kalitta and say, "that's him."
MORGAN LUCAS: Actually Doug is a pretty big guy. I think he could probably handle a couple of them.
THE MODERATOR: Let me tell you, if Doug Kalitta can handle a couple of your offensive linemen from the Colts, you guys have got big troubles this year.
MORGAN LUCAS: Last year we had a lot of injuries and stuff with the Colts' offensive line. I think this year they've got a lot of good guys there, a lot of strong people, and I think this football season is going to even go better than last year, hopefully get back in the Super Bowl again. It would be nice to hold a great team and come back for '12 and actually represent there, too. It would be nice to bring the Super Bowl back home for everybody here. I don't think anything could be bigger than that for the city and state.
Continued in part 2