Unfortunately, I have also been involved with some jerks and I guess I didn’t react the way they wanted me to, giving in and appeasing or tolerating their stupid whims.
I once had a media interviewer say that he heard through the grapevine that I was hard to control. I responded with, "Tell whoever the grapevine is, that is the best damn compliment I ever got!" The interviewer looked like he just messed in his pants and quickly changed the subject.
When younger I was accused of having a short temper, I did. Smashing phones and stuff like that. I never smashed people or their property, only my own. Read my story in this magazine, "The Drop Light from Hell" in the January 2015 issue (http://nostalgiadragworld.com/oldsite/v3i1-animaljim-droplight.php). But also note my age in that story. I used to have a sign in my shop: "If MY Temperament Seems Unstable, IT Is Because I Care."
(L) Ad from 96-AJ still a headliner! - (R) Clipping from Journal Press in 2006
I have mellowed some over the last couple decades. My fuse is a lot longer although I did have a relapse at the 2012 World Series when Zeke died on the launch during my last match vs Arnie.
What upset me the most that night was disappointing my fans and the fact that I had planned to retire from ever racing or doing bookings again after that event. I hated to do it on a negative note but I called off racing at that event anyway. It was time to piss on the fire and call in the dogs. Some people are lucky and end their career on top.
I ended mine as "And More!" Although I was paid a decent match race fee, the 2012 World Series flyer never even listed Beswick or me, was that omission an oversight? Or were Beswick and I not worthy of being mentioned anymore. Why pay us for entertaining and not have us on the flyer as always?
At least Beswick and I are on this 2010 World Series flyer
Suddenly I had gone from a career headliner to, "and more". How do my crew, my family and I explain that to friends, supporters and fans? It still bugs me, "And More???" I had set records and won many events at Cordova including three or four World Series and Summer Nationals.
However, Scott did have me with Zeke featured in the live Media Press conference in downtown Rock Island on the Thursday before the 2012 World Series. We hauled Zeke to town and made nice with the media like I have done countless times.
After 50 years of drag racing, the largest percent being positive, it is frustrating to end it like that at the 2012 World Series. Though snubbed on the flyer, I came loaded for "bear" with fresh nitrous bottles so I could run Zeke as we had in Zeke's best days, and to beat Beswick. But it was not to be. We had problems and stupid circumstances that thwarted that effort but as the old Casablanca cloche states, "We always had Paris!"
Guess who? AJ and Arnie at Rte. 66 Rick Krafft's Match Race Mainia 2007
What eased the 2012 World Series pain was the weekend before at the Route 66 Classic in Joliet, Illinois. I was honored, widely advertised and featured as "The Legend" for that event and won a great close match driving 35 year old Zeke vs Bill Neri and his new Warren Johnson Nostalgia Pro Stock tribute car.
The week after the horrible experience at the World Series, on Labor Day, Great Lakes honored me and nine others with a ceremony putting us all in the Great Lakes Hall of Fame. Like Cordova, I had been featured in and won many events at Great lakes for four decades.
Being honored into Great Lakes Hall of Fame Labor Day 2012
I should have called it off after the 2012 Classic and gone out on a happy and positive note but I had committed to one last World Series booking. Linda begged me not to go. She was livid that the flyer failed to say I was being featured, but I always fulfill my obligations.
As I said earlier, most of the playmates in my life and drag racing career were compatible.
I did get myself in a few situations where it was hard to play nice. Back many years ago having destroyed my fabulous Wunder Bird Pro Mod racing on weepers, I had a couple options for the next season. (Weepers are water seeping up through cracks in the track surface, usually after a rain and then the sun draws the water up.)