Drag Illustrated Issue 169, June/July 2021 - Page 78

awesome program down there .
I enjoyed it so much , and there were so many details and so many things that I felt like I didn ’ t do right . Even simple things like the warmup in the alcohol car . I never did two warmups exactly the same . Those are the details that as a professional race car driver , you take pride in doing things right . When you can ’ t even do the warmup right , you ’ re frustrated . So just all the little details that it takes , I gained a great appreciation for that and what was involved .
That was the first time . I had a lot of fun . I enjoyed it . I had a smile on my face . And then all I did was bitch and moan for the next month and a half about how many mistakes I made . So we went back the second week in January and did the same thing over again . I started in the alcohol car and made five runs a day in that . It got to the point where Frank said , “ I don ’ t have anything to tell you or anything you need to do different .” It literally got to real nitpicky things that he does with drivers that are professionally racing in the sport . So , when we got to that stage , then I was happy when we left . That ’ s when – she blames Don ,
I blame her and Don at that point – for saying , “ You need to try the fuel car at some point .” PRUETT : I knew no matter how much explaining you can do , there ’ s nothing like actually getting in a car . Once he goes to Hawley ’ s or even gets in a fuel car , I knew he would get it then and appreciate it . The whole premise of this is our relationship , and our understanding , and doing what we love together .
So for me , the most exciting part about everything was this is really cool because he ’ s really going to get it from having done it himself . You even look at something as simple as the warmup . Every single fan out there thinks that the driver just sits there , right ? They might wait
STEWART OBVIOUSLY HAS A PATIENT TEACHER IN PRUETT , BUT HE ALSO SPENDS A LOT OF TIME WATCHING HER TEAM WORK IN THE PITS AND ASKING THEM QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INNER WORKINGS OF A TOP FUEL CAR . or something . They have no idea that it ’ s like a 36-maneuver procedure . But it ’ s the same thing for driving the car and how it ’ s so important for it to do what it needs to do . So I still get excited about it because I know that his appreciation is there . Now we ’ ve moved from that to working on the discipline of it .
It sounds like it didn ’ t take much convincing to get Don Schumacher to sign off on the first test session with the Top Fuel car . How did that come together ? STEWART : Don was sitting there with a cattle prod the whole time going ,” Yeah , we need to do this .” So that ’ s when we organized the Vegas test . That really started with Don 12 years ago . When I met him through the U . S . Army deal , he goes , “ Hey , you need to come to a test sometime .” And I ’ m like , “ Yeah , that ’ d be awesome !” I had no idea what all was involved in that . Knowing what I know now , I ’ m glad I waited until I had a better understanding of the sport . But I think they just wanted me to
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