Drag Illustrated Issue 171, September / October 2021 - Page 76

GARY PRITCHETT

It ’ s a mix of new-school and old-school , with Hogan relying on the methods that made him successful with Garlits long ago , but not afraid to dig into the computer .
Add in the instinct each of them has and it ’ s an incredible combo that nobody has come close to matching in five years .
How does an old-school approach work for this team and what does that mean in this day and age ?
BOBBY : Dom and I have been able to be around some really good crew chiefs in this sport , and Hoagie has been the biggest influence on myself and Dom ’ s understanding of a nitro car and how you want to run one . When I got to work with him , to see that he was still an old-school guy that cared about mechanics , and he also wanted to inject himself into the guys ’ roles on the race car , and help out and use his knowledge to make them better , that was an instant click .
He ’ s able to be successful with an old-school mentality . I think that ’ s what made the team click in the beginning was that he was old school , and we were able to see that right away .
He ’ s a bearing and spark plugs guy and he likes to walk the racetrack himself to get his final feel of the racetrack . It ’ s all the basic mechanics that matter to him . When you ’ re the crew chief of this car , with the amount of technology available to you , it ’ s easy to get lost , and it ’ s easy to forget about the basic mechanics . But he ’ s still an oldschool thinker . He still relates his days with Big Daddy to some of the decisions that he makes or the things that he wants to look at , and Big Daddy was the ultimate old-school mechanic , tuner , and driver .
The thing that can separate Hogan is , not only is he old school , he still has that aggressive mentality of wanting to run hard . Certain parts of the racetrack are really important to him as far as performance . That aggressive mentality , that ’ s hard to learn
HOGAN : The years I spent with Garlits were a huge influence because obviously , he owns computers , he drove , he tunes , we both hauled everything around the country , and then I was
lucky that I worked under some really good chiefs . It wasn ’ t as much as the old school because they did everything by the seat of the pants . It ’ s just different , how you drove was different . So I ’ d get lucky to be around some talented tuners and drivers .
I ’ ve seen it backfire so when you get into this position you fall back on what you know and don ’ t be hell-bent on the technology end of it . I don ’ t know if this is going to save you . There ’ s a fine line there on how much technology you can use .
It ’ s almost always clutch-related . There are some fuel system adjustments , but that ’ s not quite as critical anymore and it ’ s pretty much all clutch .
DOM : Hoagie has the approach that my brother and I had with our dad . Before you even look at the motor , what does the bearing say ? What do the pistons look like ? What do the spark plugs look like ? The car is going to talk to you . We take that coupled with the data and the stuff that we ’ re fortunate enough to have now . It ’ s an old-school approach and that ’ s how we grew up and that ’ s how Hogan is . We enjoy that . When you ’ re running 3.60s and 3.70s , you ’ ve got to have good parts in there , but he ’ s real big on he ’ d rather have it clean and run a few hundredths slower , than go set the world record and hurt it . From where we came from , we can definitely appreciate that .
Part of what ’ s been instilled in the Laganas is a willingness to help . Even with the team dominating atop the Top Fuel ranks , they ’ ve never failed to remember where they came from . They ’ ve reached out to countless teams , much like the likes of Mike Kloeber and Clay Millican , Luigi Novelli , Doug Herbert , and others did with them while Bobby was racing and Dom was campaigning the “ Nitro Ninja .”
These days , the Laganas and the team offer their assistance and expertise to several teams , including Scott Palmer , Krista Baldwin , and in a cool full-circle type of way , Novelli . They worked with Tripp Tatum on building his new car , the latest in a long line of returning the favor from teams that helped them out years ago .
You ’ ve had a hand in helping a pretty significant number of teams . Where does that willingness to help other teams come from ?
DOM : First and foremost , it comes from Kay and Billy , and Steve to allow us to help . They want to help these guys , too . They love helping because we need the cars there , and for sure it comes from me and Bob . When Bob had the crash and it destroyed everything , and once he healed up , it ’ s like , “ All right , we ’ re going to try and race again .” We bought an old chassis and a guy like Luigi Novelli , every other week , a package would show up – input shafts or pistons or rings or whatever it may have been . Luigi would tell us not to quit , don ’ t let this knock you down .
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