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If you missed it, make sure to check out Part One of our Innerview with the legendary Tom 'The Mongoose' McEwen right here.
: If you were president of the National Hot Rod Association and could change just one thing about how the sport is run, what would that be?
Tom McEwen: I don’t know. I love Tom Compton, I think he’s very underrated. A lot of people like him, but a lot of people don’t like him because he doesn’t talk a lot, but I know him and he’s really smart and he tries to do the right thing. He and Wally (Parks) were very, very close, and I think he gets a bum rap on a lot of things he shouldn’t, because that’s a really tough job to try to please everybody out there in all those different classes; it’s a tough game.
I don’t know what I would do if I was in charge of that thing because it would be like Obama stepping into the presidency when you’ve got a big problem that someone else already did. It’s black and white until you get inside, and then you find out that’s it’s not how it’s supposed to be and it’s a tough job. I don’t think I’d want to be president of NHRA and have that kind of pressure on me. I think I’d rather watch.
: Do you think NHRA should invest more of their profits into the infrastructure of their tracks and payouts to their racers?
TM: Lots of people don’t know that NHRA has spent a fortune on concrete guardrails. It’s like we said earlier: a lot of people sit in the bleachers and think there’s 50,000 people there and there’s really 2,000. They (NHRA and the track operators) don’t always make money. Their ass is hung out pretty good on the money. I remember years ago when they went to the steel guardrails, they (NHRA) loaned a lot of money to the tracks to put the guardrails in so the insurance people would let them race. A lot of people don’t know that. They’re constantly paying bills on real estate that they own. They get a rainout and they lose. It’s not all cash. People think they have a lot of money and I don’t think they do have a lot of money. I think they just get by, and I think they do the best they can, and hopefully this sponsorship from Coca-Cola and all these people they get in there will help them,
I know because of the press, a lot of people like to knock them. Once again, it’s like I said: if it wasn’t for IHRA and NHRA, what would all these guys do? They’d make planters out of these cars. I ran for AHRA, Jim Tice, for years and years, and he used to pay us -- Prudhomme and the rest of the guys -- to come to the races, and we’d race for a little bit of money. And then eventually when we got the major sponsors, they wanted you to go on NHRA because of the television and do the best you can on that. So it’s a tough game out there and I’ve watched it since 1953, and I think it’s well and fine and doing okay, economy-wise, and I think it’ll be strong for a long time.
I think people shouldn’t complain as much as they do all the time because if you were in their shoes, it would look different to you, and just be glad you’ve got a place to go race your car.