Ed "The Ace" McCulloch

Part 2

by Susan Wade

DRO: Speaking of change, it has to be a huge change tuning a Top Fuel dragster again after concentrating on a Funny Car.

Ace: It's a pleasant change. A single-car team is great. A dragster is great. It's way more forgiving than a Funny Car.

DRO: Racecars often have distinct personalities. Have you gotten to know this dragster well enough yet to learn its personality?

Ace: There are some variances from one dragster to another. I used to go around and around with Connie all the time. He said pipe's pipe and it doesn't know anything. It doesn't matter. Well, it does matter. He's very successful, and they [his cars] do great. But we'll argue that point till the day one of us or both of us die. New pipe is better. The cars work better. They have their own personalities.

DRO: How do you mold that personality to be the one you want? Or do you get stuck with whatever the sum total of the parts is when you take them out of the box and put them together?

Ace: The way to explain that is these cars have no suspension. This suspension in that car is the chassis. When it leaves and that car arches up in the middle and it raises the engine location and it plants the tire on the back, that's what makes that car work. It's like take a paper clip and you do this [bend it]. When it's new, it'll go right back where it's supposed to. But after you make 100 runs on that car, now that tubing has changed. It doesn't work like it did when it was new. Do you have to buy a new car every 70-80 runs? Some guys do.

DRO: Do you worry about what the other Top Fuel teams are doing, or do you race against your own potential? Do you just say, "We're going to get the most we can out of that one racecar"?

Ace: That's the way I look at it. I certainly watch them and pay attention to what they do. In this position, they've got way more experience than I do. I've been around this sport a long time, but not in a crew chief role. But my intentions are to make this the best of my ability. Can we compete with those guys? On a given day we can. Can we go out there and run equally as well as them day in and day out in every condition? Maybe not. They've got more experience than I do in making some of the calls that they make. They're going to be better than we are -- sometimes.

DRO: Is it a matter of brains or funding?

Ace: Well, they've probably got a lot more of both. But we don't want for anything here. Anything we need, we have.

DRO: This team is OK financially? It's financially able to compete?

Ace: I raced my own cars for a lot of years. I paid the bills. If I can get another run out of that part, I will, because I'm paying for that out of my pocket. Well, that mentality has carried over with me. I will not just go out here and just say, "Nah -- let's get rid of that. Let's get this new stuff." When we came here, I took what we had. Doug actually had ordered this stuff before I was hired. We changed cylinder heads, which was a good move. But I'll try to get our money's worth out of every part that we can. I don't like wasting it. I treat it as if I was paying for it.

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