ST. LOUIS (KMOX)- John Force Racing funny car driver Robert Hight is second in points heading into this weekend’s NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in nearby Madison, Illinois. There will be three races left in the season after Gateway.
The California native pilots the Auto Club of Southern California (AAA) Chevy Camaro SS.
KMOX’s Brad Choat had a Q-and-A session with the 48-year-old racer during a media preview day on Thursday.
Q: You’ve said St. Louis is one of your favorite places to visit. Why?
A: I love it here. Come here about 2 or 3 times a year. I always make appearances at the St. Louis Auto Show for AAA and Chevrolet. I race out at Gateway. And, next weekend I’ll be attending the AAA car show at their headquarters here. It’s a great city and I try to see something different each time.
Q: Do you anticipate a record-setting weekend at Gateway?
A: This is a really good track. The weather forecast is good. We’ve been flirting with 340 miles per hour. Ran 339 last weekend in Reading (Pennsylvania). We expect better conditions here. It has to be a perfect run and need the conditions to be there. We’re gonna be trying for a speed record, I promise you that.
Q: Has the television coverage on Fox and Fox Sports 1 helped elevate your sport?
A: Yes, the two years have been great. We drew record crowds in Pennsylvania and expect them here, too. Some other motor sports are going the other direction and fans aren’t coming. NHRA really appeals to fans because you don’t have to sit 4 or 5 hours and watch cars go around in circles. You can come to the pits, get autographs from drivers, and watch us work on our cars. We only have about 55 minutes to turn the thing completely around, meaning rebuild the engine, get a new clutch, and get back racing.
Q: How has technology changed drag racing since you got started?
A: A lot. It’s huge. You look at the old cars we worked on of John’s (John Force) in the early days and, my gosh. At the time we thought those were sophisticated. The name of the game in drag racing is to go quicker and faster. Things change. There’s a lot of computers and technology now.
Q: There’s been a lot of attention lately about some professional athletes taking a knee or not coming out for the National Anthem before their competitions. Has there been anything of the sort in the NHRA?
A: I don’t think you’ll find anybody in drag racing that won’t stand and honor our country during the National Anthem. It’s not going to happen. The fans, the teams, we wouldn’t be here if not for those who fought for out freedom. Everybody’s patriotic at races. You know, there’s a time and place for everything. During the National Anthem, you need to honor our country. That’s my opinion.
Q: What advice would you have for any first-timers coming to the track this weekend for the Midwest Nationals?
A: When you come to any NHRA event, all your senses will be tested to the max. You’ll HEAR it (can be deafening, so bring ear protection). You’ll SMELL it (the nitro methane, there’s nothing like it). And, you’ll FEEL it (When two 10,000 horsepower cars go side by side down the track the ground shakes).