GOP & College Interviews NHRA Driver Max Naylor
After the 4th round of qualifying at the O'Reilly Midsouth Nationals, I got to sit down with NHRA Pro Stock Driver Max Naylor, who drives the Jagermeister Dodge. If you don't know a little history of Max, he worked at UPS for 34 years and was the owner/operator of Numidia Dragway south of Bloomsburg, PA.
I asked Max after being in the working world so long, what happened to make him want to get in and drive a race car. He told me that one of the local guys one a championship and was invited to Pomona Dragway. Max said he and his wife went along and when they got there they looked at the crowd and said, "We have got to figure out a way to do this." Then he set out to find a sponsor and here he is.
I then asked him if there were any words that could describe the feeling of not only setting the Track E.T. record for O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indy, but to follow up the next event and set the E.T. record for Memphis. He told me that didn't know if there were any words to describe it, but that he feels Memphis validates the fact that Indy wasn't just a one-time deal.
I then mentioned that some people in the drag racing community are starting to see him as the dark horse in the Pro Stock division, and what he had to say about possibly becoming the next Giant-killer. He said that it's a very tough division with many great competitors, and that his success could be fleeting. He emphasized that missing the set-up by just the slightest bit will send you packing.
I asked Max about his recent switch from Goodyear tires to Hoosier, and if the car felt any different (Max switched because the Goodyear supplier would frequently run out of good tires, leaving him with lower quality tires). He said that Hoosier makes a good tire...But it's not as fast as a GOOD Goodyear, and if they could get good quality Goodyear's the potential to go faster is there. However Hoosier is working to make their tires better. He said that they are a great group of people, and the ability to run well on Hoosier tires is good for the class because it eliminates the borderline monopoly Goodyear has on rubber.
I also asked Max what the hardest part of racing in the Pro Stock class was . He gave a simple answer. Money and Logistics. I asked out of curiosity how much a season costs in the Pro Stock class. He said "If you don't have the better part of $2 million, you might as well stay home."
Back in May, a foul up in the repair of Bristol Dragway forced a one month delay of the Thunder Valley Nationals that put a lot of fans in a bind. I asked him as a racer what he felt about the rescheduling. He said that as a racer, it wouldn't matter and he felt it was the right thing to do. He said that drag racing is all about entertainment and if you don't have the track in good condition, then you won't have an entertaining event. He said, as a racer, "For us, it just has to fit in somewhere."
Being a guy who would golf 7 days a week myself, I asked Max about the fact that he plays, and if he followed the PGA Tour. He laughed and said he didn't really have time to play anymore, and that ever since the Lee Travino's and Arnold Palmer's of the golf era left, he felt there wasn't really much personality in the PGA. I had to ask him after that if he had heard of Woody Austin. He hadn't and if you are unaware, he is a type A personality who wears his emotion on his sleeve.
Last I told him I know he's sponsored by Jager, and might be inclined to say it's his favorite drink is Jagermeister, but in all honesty what is his favorite drink. He said a Black Eyed Jane. At that point I let out a bit of a laugh at the fact his wife's name is Jane. The drink is 2 parts Jagermeister, 1 1/2 part purple grape juice and a dash of Sprite/7up. Needless to say, I'm anxious to try one myself.
To Max, Jane, and the rest of the Jager crew, thanks for the interview and keep kickin' some ass! And be sure to check out the Naylor Blog over at NHRA.com, and the official webpage at NaylorRacing.com