About Me
I get asked quite often how I got into building cars and crewing on Top Fuel cars.......so, for those that may be interested, this is my story......

When I was 12 years old, the transmission went out in my parents '77 Monte Carlo and they couldn't afford to pay to have it fixed. The father of a guy that my Dad worked with at a local steel company helped my Dad rebuild the Turbo 350 after my Dad pulled it out.  My Dad, like most people, had always wanted to be in business for himself, but never could find anything that he thought he'd be good enough at, but after rebuilding that transmission with the help of his friends Father, my Dad thought that maybe he could build transmissions for a living, so he decided to build transmissions on the side and sell them out of a local paper called the Bargain Post, which is basically, a paper for people to sell their used stuff.  

When he built the transmissions he would let me put the clutches in the cases or drums and do miscellaneous things like that. After he did that for a little while, he decided that he needed to go work at a transmission shop so he could get better at rebuilding and R&Ring transmissions (that's transmission slang, for Remove and Replace).  So, he went to work at the best transmission shop in Tulsa, which, at that time, was Star Transmissions, as an R&R guy.  The owner, Sam, had told Eddie that he could learn to build as he worked there, but that never happened, so Eddie still built a few transmission on the side and was selling them out of the Bargain Post.  After working there about a year, my Dad decided that he was good enough to work for himself, so he quit Star Transmissions on a Friday and opened shop on Monday, in a one bay shop behind a local automotive repair shop (I was 13 at this time).

 The shop was so small that if you had a long car in the shop, like a Cadillac, you couldn't walk around the car with the doors closed.  He didn't even have an air compressor, so the guys in the shop in front of him ran an air line back to his shop.   He had no tear down or assembly tables, so he used a 55 gallon drum with holes poked in the top to tear the transmission down, and then he nailed a pair of wooden doors together to use as an assembly table.  He had no vat to clean cases in, so he bought a heating element for a water heater and would stick it down into a 55 gallon drum to heat up the water filled with case cleaner, then he'd take the cases to the local car wash to rinse them off, even in the winter time.  All my Dad had to do was build one transmission a week and he could cover all his overhead, and then anything more than that was gravy.  After school, I'd go right to the shop and help my Dad R&R transmissions and do whatever he wanted me to do.  At that time, I was the driveshaft man.  When he was R&Ring a transmission, I'd be in charge of pulling and removing the driveshaft and handing my Dad tools.  When I was 14, he let me R&R by myself and I still remember the first one I did.  It was a 70's Ford truck with the front cross member that runs right below the bellhousing.  Man, those things sure seemed like a huge pain at the time.  I loved helping my Dad and did it without pay because "pay" wasn't even in my vocabulary.  I was just happy to be helping my Dad.  

By this time I was 15 and I had the car bug.  I remember my Dad telling me street race stories from back when he was a kid.  He had a 63 Plymouth Savoy with a 383 4-speed out of a '69 Roadrunner that he used to street race.  I'd built a few model cars and I really liked '69 Six Pack Superbee's and Roadrunner's.  My Dad grew up with a guy named Mike French and my Dad suggested calling Mike since he was still into Mopars to find out if he knew of any cars for sale.  Mike said that he knew of a '69 Roadrunner for $1,500 (this was 1987).  So, we loaded up and drove out to my Dad's old stomping grounds, Louisville, Kentucky, where Mike lived.  By the time we got there, the Roadrunner had already been sold, so Mike suggested we look at a '68 GTS Dart for sale.  I had no idea what a GTS Dart was and I really didn't care because all I knew was that Darts were Grandma's cars, but since we traveled all that way, I figured we'd go ahead and check it out.  This is the pic I took that day.


I loved the car.  It was a cool color, it had a cool hood, it had stripes, and it had a 383 4-speed, all in a car lighter than a Superbee by at least 400 pounds!!! We didn't have the full $1,000 that the original owner wanted for the car, so we told him that we'd be back in a month with the rest of the money to pick it up.  That was a long month for me and I could hardly stand it. We borrowed a truck and trailer and went back to pick it up.  After we loaded it up we stopped on the way out of town to get fuel and there were mice jumping off the trailer.  Come to find out, Mike French had seen the car street racing back in the day.  

We got it home and did a low dollar resto on it.  My Dad did a lot of trading to get the car done for me.  He traded a tranny job for the machine work on the engine.  He traded a tranny job for the new tires.  He traded a tranny job to have the seats recovered.  He traded a tranny job for the exhaust.  He traded a tranny job to have the 4-speed rebuilt (my Dad doesn't rebuild standard transmissions).  He even traded a few tranny jobs to get the car painted.  Personally, I had no money in it.  It was my Mom and Dad's way of paying me for getting good grades and helping my Dad at the shop and looking back now, it was obvious that it was their evil plan to have something to hang over my head to keep me out of trouble.  It back fired, because they created a MONSTER.....(Check out the shackles and traction bars that were on the car when I'd bought it!!!)



I drove it for about a year and raced it one time to the tune of 15.30 on hard street tires, granny shifting.  I was bumbed with the ET and I decided to tear the car apart and do a ground up resto just like I'd done with my model cars.  While it was apart, I wanted to build a faster motor for it.  By now I was 17, my Dad's business was doing really well, so he decided to start paying me commission for doing tranny work.   So, when I was in High School, I was making $300 to $500/week working after school.  Working on commission taught me to work fast and work as best as I could, so I'd make more money per hour spent.  I ended up buying a '68 Roadrunner and dropping the motor out of the GTS into it.  The Roadrunner ran 14.70s the first time out!!!  That showed me how bad of a driver I was to have a 400 pound heavier car run over half a second quicker with the same motor!!!  That got me into researching power shifting.

  I graduated High School and had a few small Scholarship offers, but I didn't know what I wanted to do for a living, so I decided to work for my Dad for a year or two while I tried to figure that out.  I was 19 when Steve Brown, the local Mac Tools salesman came by my Dad's shop.  He'd just gotten back from the NHRA Houston race (this was 1991).  We were talking and I told him that the next time he went to one of those races, he needed to call me so I could go with him since I'd never been.  He said he'd do that and then he mentioned that he knew Roland Leong of Hawaiin Punch funny car fame.  He said that Roland was looking to hire a clutch guy for their team.  I told him that I'd be interested in trying it out.  Steve told me what all was involved and how much work it was and said he'd be happy to recommend me.  So, Steve called Roland that night, Roland called me that night, the driver of the car, Jim White, from Tulsa, met me the next night and hired me.

  So, within a 48 hour period, I was hired to work on a Funny Car crew when I'd never even been to a race.  I flew to Rockingham for my first race and was on the road with the team until the end of the season. We finished 2nd in points behind John Force.  I'd went into it with the attitude that NOBODY was going to out work me.  They may be able to keep up, but not out work me.  When I was finished with my work, I'd clean the van, polish the wheels on the truck, or clean the tools in the tool box. I always stayed busy and I didn't want to let anyone down, so I worked my butt off.  The first race that the Hawaiin Punch team won while I was there was the NHRA National Event in Montreal.........(From the left, that's Dave Leahy, Rick Cassel, Brian McDermit, me, Suzie (Roland's girlfriend), Roland, some NHRA guy, Jim white, and then Wes Cerney on the end)


At the end of the season, I knew that I didn't want to do that for a living.  It was way too much work for how much you got paid, plus I didn't like being away from home that much, and I missed my girlfriend (now wife).  I figured out real quick that I'd rather race my own 14 second car than watch Jim White race a 5 second car.  It was a good experience plus I got to stand in the Winner's Circle after Layin' the Smack Down on John Force in the Big Bud shootout and after out running him in the actual race on Monday.....(I'm the third from the left in this pic)


Now, it's 1992 and I'm still working for my Dad and I don't know what I want to do for a living.  Mid season, the phone rings and it's David Leahy, one of the crew guys that I'd worked with and he wants me to come work with him on Jim Head's Top Fuel Dragster.  I told him that there's no way I'd do that crap again.  So, jokingly, I said that if Jim would fly me to all the races, I'd do it.  Dave called me back later that afternoon and said that Jim said if I was as good as Dave said, it was a done deal.  So I've got a fly-in deal on a Top Fuel team and I'm making as much flying in to the races as I was before when I was on the road full time, plus I'm still working for my Dad when I'm home.  All this time I'm still messing with my Musclecars.  

At the end of the '93 racing season, Jim Head lands the Smokin' Joe's Racing sponsorship, so he needs more full time guys on the road, which leaves me without a racing job (which doesn't hurt my feelings). The very first race of '94 is at Pomona and I get a phone call.... It's Dave Leahy again and this time he's got me a fly-in job lined up with the Smokin' Joe's Racing funny car owned by Leonard Hughes and Paul Candies and driven by Gordie Bonnin.  Jim Head was pitted right across from Leonard and they were short one crew guy, so Dave tells them that he knows a guy in Oklahoma that could fill in until they found a full time guy to replace me.  I ended up working for Leonard for two years as a fly-in until he retired. (That's me in the foreground with my back to the camera while testing in Seattle. From the left, that's Kelly Pryor, me, Shannon King, John Covington, and Leonard)


We even made the cover of National Dragster and won two races in '94


From the left, that's Paul Candies, Gordie Bonin, Leanord Hughes, me, Steve Sanchez of Total Flow Products, Larry Frazier, Shannon King, Robert Hughes (Leonard's son), and Brad Dusterhoff.


While I was working for Leonard, I'd bought an upholstery machine to be able to do my own seat covers for my cars.  Dave Leahy knew this so he gets me to make some covers for the team.  Stuff like pit mats to lay on, covers for the paper towel dispensers, covers to go over the ends of the Top Fuel wing so when you set it on the ground, the paint doesn't get scratched up.  The next thing I know, I've got people every weekend wanting me to make covers for their team.  I did vinyl cover work for just about every Top Fuel team out there. I was making more money doing vinyl covers than I was actually racing....When I'd go to a race, I'd bring a carry-on for my clothes and I'd bring two large suit cases full of covers I'd made...... (This pic was taken when I was working for Del Worsham in '97)


Here are a couple of shots my wife took while working on the car at Topeka. The other guy in the pics is Mark Denner. He's the current crew chief of Del's #2 car


Imagine all this..........I work for my Dad all week.........I leave Thursday evening, fly all night to a race, then I work on the race car all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, then I measure typically two or three different teams miscellaneous vinyl cover needs, and then fly home Sunday evening or Monday morning to be back at work at my Dad's shop.  After I work all day, I sew covers from 6 until about 10 typically three or four nights a week, plus now I'm also doing some side work on people's Musclecars.  I was working at least 80 hours per week and I did that for eight years.......

It was crazy.....I'd go to roughly 23 NHRA races per year (plus testing), when I was home I'd go to Tulsa Raceway Park in between those races and race at the Friday night Test and Tune, race on Saturday, and then sometimes I'd even race at the Saturday night Midnight Drags......so, there'd be years where I'd be at a racetrack 150 to 200 days a year!!!...........and get this, there'd be people at Tulsa Raceway Park that I knew real well from just being out there that had no clue that I was going to all of the NHRA races......There are people that I know real well that still don't know.....I just never told anyone unless I thought they needed to know......

In that time, I also worked for Tom Hoover/Cory Lee, Don Lampus, Cruz Pedgregon, Bruce Sarver, Don Prudhomme (man, there's not a lot of good I can say about him.........), and Del Worsham. Here's pic of Don Lampus's car at Gainesville in 2001 when I worked on it.


I got married in '95, had my first son in '98, and quit racing at the end of 2002.  My son would get so sad whenever I'd go out of town that I just decided that I needed to be home more for him, plus I was covered up in Musclecar work.  In 02, I told my Dad that I wanted to take a few weeks off so I could knock out all this Musclecar work I had lined up.  After two weeks, I had another two weeks worth of work lined up.  Now, eight years later, I still haven't gone back to work for my Dad.......

  So, in a nutshell, you now know how I got to where I'm at and what I'm about.