Don Schumacher and driver Spencer Massey addressed Massey’s departure from Don Schumacher Racing and Massey’s return to drive the Battery Extender Powered by Schumacher Top Fuel dragster.
The following is a question/answer news release with Schumacher and Massey that will be followed up with a 30-minute news conference with them at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, in the NHRA Media Center in the tower behind the starting line on the opening day of the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries and the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Q: Why did you decide on Nov. 23 to part ways with Spencer?
Schumacher: I could not tolerate his actions at the [NHRA] banquet [on Nov. 12]. The same thing would have happened to any of my employees if they took a cooler with beer into a black-tie affair while representing DSR.
I wasn’t at the banquet because I was in Chicago tending to my mom’s funeral, so I don’t know what else happened, and I don’t go on rumors or gossip.
I decided Spencer deserved a second chance.
Q: Why did you decide to rehire Spencer?
Schumacher: I never wanted to break up the team.
I have spent a lot of time talking to Spencer, and he knows now how wrong it was for him do what he did. I believe people sometimes deserve a second chance, and this is one of them. I’m impressed that Spencer made the decision to seek counseling for his temper.
Spencer is the best driver for that team.
Q: Why was the future of your third dragster not decided until Feb. 1?
Schumacher: Keep in mind that when I said last summer that we would run that team regardless of having a major sponsor or not, it was before I knew that two other major sponsors (Aaron’s and Service Central) would decide not to return to NHRA Drag Racing in 2013. That would have left me with three teams to fund.
Toward the end of last year, I wasn’t sure I could live by the commitment I made in the summer that I would fund that team myself after FRAM told us they would not return to motorsports in 2013. I never wanted to break up the team.
Fortunately, Johnny Gray and his sister, Terry Chandler, decided to sponsor his Dodge Funny Car, Rocky Boots came on to join Mopar on Matt’s [Hagan] car, and Rodger and Karen Comstock decided to be the primary on Jack’s [Beckman] car for seven events to promote their wonderful Mail for Wounded Warriors and Hire a Hero programs.
Those commitments allowed me to keep my word to fund the No. 3 Top Fuel team through Schumacher Electric Corp. and our Battery Extender chargers.
Let me make it very, very clear: Schumacher Electric is funding this team and no one else.
We still are talking with companies about coming onboard with that team.
Q: Why did you take a soft, six-pack cooler into the NHRA Awards Banquet on Nov. 12 last year?
Massey: Well, it really doesn’t matter because it was a dumb thing to do.
When Don heard about it, he was pretty mad that I took in the cooler with beer into our banquet, and he’s right, that was not the way DSR should be represented.
Q: Did you leave the banquet while Antron [Brown] was speaking, and did you throw a beer?
Massey: First, I like and respect Antron a lot and consider him a friend. I think he feels the same about me.
Looking back, I shouldn’t have disrespected him by getting up to go to the bathroom while he was speaking. I was happy that he won, but, honestly, I was angry all day because my team didn’t win it.
I was sitting in the back of the [banquet] room, and as I got close to the doors to leave, a couple crew guys from another team – I won’t say which team, but they know the truth – made a comment to me that I didn’t appreciate, and I used language I shouldn’t have, but it was directed at them and had nothing to do with race.
That was the boiling point for me, and I threw my plastic bottle of Coors Light to the ground. It only had a few gulps left when I slammed it down, and some of the beer flew up and got on someone. I went right up to this man and kept apologizing.
Q: Do you have a temper that sometime has been out of control?
Massey: I’ve had a lot of time these past couple months to look back at how I’ve acted at times. There were a few times this year after a disappointing run that I walked away from my guys [team] at the end of the track and at Reading left the track before talking to my team. I stomped off like a spoiled kid.
My temper had gotten out of control, especially after we didn’t win the championship, and that’s why I’ve started to see a counselor to help me with some anger issues I have.
Q: Where do you go from here?
Massey: I’m going to become a better person, that’s for sure. I’ll continue with counseling.
I’m so thankful Don is giving me another chance, and I promise not to let Don or my teammates down again. I came close to losing the biggest dream of my life.
I can’t change things I’ve said or done in the past, but I will not repeat those mistakes.