10 QUESTIONS WITH BAZE PITTSBORO, Ind. (June 5, 2007) -- Whit Bazemore can be described in countless ways. He's arguably the most competitive driver in NHRA drag racing. He's a loving, caring husband and father. He's a passionate and driven...
10 QUESTIONS WITH BAZE
PITTSBORO, Ind. (June 5, 2007) -- Whit Bazemore can be described in countless ways. He's arguably the most competitive driver in NHRA drag racing. He's a loving, caring husband and father. He's a passionate and driven racer. Bazemore also is never at a loss for words. Sometimes controversial, but always of strong opinion, the 20-time NHRA winner recently completed the first third of the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season. Eight races into his first season in the David Powers Motorsports camp behind the wheel of the Matco Tools dragster, the veteran nitro pilot is adjusting just fine to his new 300" ride. Yet to reach the winner's circle in '07, Baze and his Lee Beard-led race team have proven they have one of the elite cars in the sport. At the Houston race in late March, Bazemore became just the 15th racer in NHRA history to earn poles in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. Now Baze has his sights set on becoming the 14th to earn wins in both nitro classes. As the NHRA schedules offers up a grueling stretch of eight races in nine weeks, Bazemore recently conducted a 10-question Q&A. Bazemore talks about driving a Top Fuel dragster, his recent move to Oregon and his career goals.
Q: You're a third of the way through the 2007 NHRA season. How has the transition from Funny Car to Top Fuel gone for you?
BAZEMORE: The transition has been good. It's been relatively easy, but rating the transition and rating our performance are two different questions. Performance-wise, it's been kind of up and down. We've had some consistency problems and at Atlanta I was late, so we've lost some races that we shouldn't have lost. As a team, we have outstanding people. We certainly know what we're capable of and we know our potential. It's very frustrating when you don't exceed your own potential and that's why we do this, to be perfect and win races. We're in a position where we're fully capable of achieving the best results possible and it's up to us to make that happen and that's what we're working towards.
Q: Do you miss driving the Funny Car?
BAZEMORE: There are some things I miss. I enjoyed the team I was with last year, the guys on the team, I miss them. I think a Funny Car puts you a little more on edge. You always have the factor of engine failures and fire, so that creates a little more stress and honestly I miss that. The Top Fuel car goes straighter and it runs hard in the middle, I enjoy that. The feel of a Top Fuel car is still a little foreign to me the way it flexes so much. The car itself, the way it's built, is always moving and it's a weird sensation, but you get used to it.
Q: How has it been working with Lee Beard again?
BAZEMORE: (Lee) Beard is a championship-winning crew chief. He's extremely good. We have a team that's capable of winning a championship. It's just a matter of making the stars line up so we're all at the top of our game at the same time and that's what we're going to make happen.
Q: Your teammate, Rod Fuller, has had a lot of success this season. How does it affect you when your teammate is doing better on the race track?
BAZEMORE: You always want to be the guy on top. There's some frustration when you have a teammate and the other car is running a little more effortlessly than your own car, but it's good for the team and David Powers Motorsports. I like Hot Rod (Fuller) a lot, we get along really well, and Rob Flynn, the crew chief over there, I have a history with him, so we're excited for them that they're having a lot of success. We want to be up there with them. It's not their fault, it's our fault. We've got to make things happen for ourselves regardless of what they do or what anyone else does. It's about the Matco car and getting it where it needs to be.
Q: This April, you and the family moved from Indianapolis to Eugene, Ore. Why?
BAZEMORE: We certainly didn't expect to sell our house in Indy in one week. We put it on the market in mid-February and we thought it would take six, seven months and it sold in a week. So, we moved. It is a stressful thing and that's something that (wife) Michelle has reminded me of a few times. It's been a stressful year. They say the most stressful things that people go through are job changes and moving, so that's what we did this year. We've settled in to a certain extent. I like to think that when I come to the races there aren't any outside influences, but maybe that's not totally the case. We work hard to be isolated and focus on the job at hand. All-and-all, it's a very positive thing for me and the family. It's a totally different lifestyle out there and we're getting more accustomed every day that we're there.
Q: Why Oregon?
BAZEMORE: We've traveled through Oregon a lot every year and it's a beautiful place. Eugene is a very unique area, the whole Willamette Valley is a unique area. Eugene is a small town, it's a college town, but at the same time there are a lot of arts there, there's good food, it's a very athletic place, there's a lot of outdoor stuff to do there. Quite honestly, it's beautiful, it's clean and there are really good schools. Pretty much those are the reasons that we went there.
Q: You son Dashiell is 27 months. How's fatherhood going?
BAZEMORE: It's just unbelievable and when they start talking and when they learn so much it is a lot of fun. To hear him at 27-months-old, when he says words like hippopotamus and competition, to hear him say competition it is hilarious. The things he likes everyday, the car wash, when we drive by the car wash, it's, "go in car wash, go in car wash." Or, "go to the park." A couple of weeks ago, we went to the park and he played football with a bunch of 10-year-olds and he's running back and forth with them to the football. It's pretty hilarious. It's good, it's fulltime, but I wouldn't trade it. A little more sleep and some time to myself is always good, but my time with Dashiell is second to none.
Q: What do you do when you do have time to yourself?
BAZEMORE: I haven't had too much time to myself honestly. I've done a couple of training rides by myself. Michelle is starting to train again. We've been house-hunting and that's a very time- consuming process. Once we're settled in, I like to read, I like to do the photography, I like to go out on long training rides and do four and five hour bike rides. I haven't done many of those lately. As time goes on, our old lifestyle will start to reemerge.
Q: How has your physical training gone recently?
BAZEMORE: We have a nanny so we can do those things. It's important that we do those things. It's important to this job that you're fit and it's important that you do things that you enjoy doing that take the edge off because it is stressful and that's what works for me. The whole moving process has slowed it down. The last three weeks, I've been on my bike a lot more regularly. Your fitness levels are always changing when you're training. I'm starting to regain it and it feels awfully good. The training out there is phenomenal. The opportunities to ride all different terrain and roads with very little traffic, hills, mountains, flats, whatever we want to do, we can do that right from downtown.
Q: What's left to accomplish in your driving career?
BAZEMORE: The first priority is to win our first race in Top Fuel. That's something that can happen anytime. Even though we're ninth in points, we're in position to contend at every race and we're going to contend. We've got to make that happen. Sometimes you can't rush things. My long term goal is to be a world champion and we've come close many times, we've been second twice with Lee Beard. That's really my goal is to be the Top Fuel champion for Matco Tools.