THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MIKE KLOEBER

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In the immortal words of Don Prudhomme, you should let the painter paint and the welder weld. I don’t think the sanctioning body has a place to mandate exactly how you should build your race car. I think race cars should be built like airplanes. When you build an airplane you take your plans to the FAA and prove to them this works. Then they allow you to keep doing what you say you are going to do. They keep an eye on you and watch you that way. I think that would be a better format.

Actually, to get to the underlying current of this whole chassis heat-treating thing, I think in a short period of time we’ll have a very comprehensive study done on the chassis and the load that it’s actually seeing going down the track. Then we can build race cars that withstand the loads we create and we’ll learn how to make them go down the race track even if we make a car that makes us want to stick our tongue out now. We’ll learn how to make them go down the track and they’ll run quick and they’ll run fast. It will be the same for everybody. 

 
The drag racing world through the eyes of Top Fuel crewchief Mike Kloeber

By Bobby Bennett, Jr.

L
ife is great for me. I’ve been married for 17 years and I have a 12-year old daughter named Kayla who loves the races. I love to bring Kayla with me when I can get her away from my wife Deanna. Everyone is healthy and in good shape at our house.

 



The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to
DON “THE SNAKE” PRUDHOMME

The Vipe…intense…he’s an innovator as much as he wouldn’t consider himself to be one.  He’s innovative on many levels. We owe modern sponsorship to him. Even when Don Garlits told him that it wasn’t going to work, the last time I checked he was doing quite well. Drag racing has been good to Don.

 

The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to MULTI-CAR TEAMS

I wish I had one. The handwritting seems to be on the wall and the people who can put together a couple or three cars can gather more data. If you talk to Connie Kalitta, he doesn’t just get four runs during qualifying at an event. He makes 12 runs. Obviously the teams that have more cars are getting more information. Ultimately that leads to better performances which makes it harder for the one-car teams. One-car teams are always going to be around, but it’s the two-car and mulit-car teams that are going to be most dominant on a day-to-day bases.

 


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The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to ATHLETES BEING ROLE MODELS

I don’t think being a role model has anything to do with being an athlete. I think what you are leading up to are some poor role models who are athletes and people would love for them to be role models and not get into some of the stuff they’ve gotten into. I think the most important thing is to do what is right and if you become a role model to someone that’s fine.

 

The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to SANCTIONING BODY INVESTIGATIONS OF CRASHES

Unfortunately as much as we would love to have those nifty NASA/FAA investigations over accidents, especially fatal ones, the NHRA is not capable of doing that. There are only a handful of groups that are capable of that. It has nothing to do with NHRA. It has to do with having NASA and FAA capabilities in order to accurately investigate a crash. We lack the black box technology that can record things we can’t see happen. To sum this up, we’d like to have a nice crash report. Right now, we are not spending the kind of money and manpower that it takes to get it done.

 


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The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to THE MONOSTRUT DRAGSTER

The monostrut car is clearly superior from the standpoint that it is more stable. Our interest in developing a car like this was based on that belief. We wanted a car like that. We wanted a car with better vehicle stability and a car that would offer a driver a better opportunity to have a tire failure, wing failure or some kind of catastrophic failure and not get the car turned around careening from wall to wall in the shut-down area. The driver would be able to keep his car right-side up and in his lane. That’s our goal. Garlits proved that it works and we all should have been running them a long time ago.

 

The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to HEAT TREATING DRAGSTER FRAMES

In the immortal words of Don Prudhomme, you should let the painter paint and the welder weld. I don’t think the sanctioning body has a place to mandate exactly how you should build your race car. I think race cars should be built like airplanes. When you build an airplane you take your plans to the FAA and prove to them this works. Then they allow you to keep doing what you say you are going to do. They keep an eye on you and watch you that way. I think that would be a better format.

Actually, to get to the underlying current of this whole chassis heat-treating thing, I think in a short period of time we’ll have a very comprehensive study done on the chassis and the load that it’s actually seeing going down the track. Then we can build race cars that withstand the loads we create and we’ll learn how to make them go down the race track even if we make a car that makes us want to stick our tongue out now. We’ll learn how to make them go down the track and they’ll run quick and they’ll run fast. It will be the same for everybody. 

 


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The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to BEING LUCKY OR GOOD…

I see people on television and they say they’d rather be lucky than good. I kind of have the opposite opinion. I’d rather be good than lucky.

 

The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to 25 RACES IN A SEASON

We’ll do 25 races this year and that doesn’t include testing…so the time requirement on our core group…myself and the crew that has to travel up and down the road with the equipment…it is awfully tough on them. They do a lot of work for the amount of people we have. We are approaching a NASCAR-type schedule with only half of the infrastructure they use. 25 races is a lot, but if we could do 50 and still have a good balance with family life, I’d do 50. It’s not that I don’t like racing, I just know it’s hard on the guys and the budgets we have to work with.

 


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The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to THE LEFT LANE

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out there have been more wins in the left lane than in the right. Prudhomme was really into the left lane and I picked that up from him.

A long time ago a conversation took place between Jerry Ruth and Prudhomme. They were talking about the general state of affairs in drag racing at the time. The story can be traced back to Jerry and it goes like this, "Everyone was in the staging lanes at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and the first two cars were about to run when Wally Parks came out of the fancy tower and said, “Guys, I’m really sorry there’s no money to race for…just a trophy. If you want to park your stuff, I am fine with that. We have a trophy and we’ll still race.”

The story goes that the guy told Wally, “Get out of the way, I want the LEFT LANE.”

 


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The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to NERDS IN HIGH SCHOOL

I was one of those that picked on a few nerds in high school along the way. I wish that I hadn’t.

 

The world according to Mike Kloeber when it comes to CLAY MILLICAN…

Within the first 30 minutes, I knew Clay wanted to drive and be good at it. He asked all the right questions and I knew immediately that he was going to be good at it and I hadn’t even saw him get in the car. I did remember that he was the guy who did a reverse burnout in the Chicago White Sox-sponsored car in Chicago. The little bit of time I spent with him I knew he would be a good driver. It would just take time and money. Did he have the time and the money? The rest is history.


 

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