By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
TCSR: What inspired you to get into racing?
SJ: “I saw that gas was really expensive in Southern California, and it was not so much about the expenses, but it was about the freedom. At 15-and-a-half, you can get a learner’s permit in California, so you could drive a car with your mom or dad, so when I was done with school, I rigged up my dirt bike to ride on the street, and then I moved up in the pay scale. At that time, while working at a pizza place, I discovered drag racing. Once being there, I figured that’s what I wanted to do.”
TCSR: Why did you pick Pro Stock Motorcycle over the other NHRA categories?
SJ: “They were so inexpensive at the time, plus you can go faster in a motorcycle than in a car.”
TCSR: Were you racing dirt bikes before motorcycles?
SJ: “It was a dirt bike that had been modified for the street than I started hot rodding it. It was a street bike that I took to drag strips.”
TCSR: What do you think about the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle category?
SJ: “I love the entertainment side of our sport. I love going to and winning the US Nationals (in Indianapolis). There is nothing better than the camaraderie of the team’s out here. There is nothing cooler than winning the Wally. You can’t win every race that you enter. It doesn’t happen that often when a driver puts a win streak together. The fans are so cool, especially NHRA fans, because they remember you and your story every time they come back to see you. Englishtown is where I started and it has the most memories of my career.”
TCSR: Why is Englishtown so special?
SJ: “It is because that’s where I started. I may be from Los Angeles, California, but in my racing career, I was born in New Jersey. It is a very, very special place, so special that I consider it home.”
TCSR: What is it like for you to race against the other Pro Stock Motorcycle drivers?
SJ: “Every single driver, including the girls, race different. We all have different personalities. I wouldn’t admit to them, but they don’t truly know how much I value their relationships with Pro Stock Motorcycle and myself. They have provided myself with a lifetime of memories. If you love something enough, eventually you are going to be good at it. I can’t do that without my competitors.”
TCSR: Do you have to do anything different when you race against the girls such as Angie Smith, Karen Stoffer, etc, when you race against the girls?
SJ: “Before the race, the girls usually come up to me and hug me, then tell me to have a good race. I’m usually like, ‘Oh, great! I’m going to get my butt beat by a girl and she just wished me good luck.’ Karen Stoffer, Angie Smith, Angelle Sampey – they’re all girls out here chasing their dream. It looks like they are having a blast at it.”
TCSR: L.E. Tonglet took the sport by storm last year when he came out of no where to win the championship as a rookie in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. What does that say or tell you veteran drivers?
SJ: “I raced against his dad and his older brother, so I’ve raced the family. L.E. was a rookie to the rule book, but he was far from a rookie in racing a drag bike. He was raised right. L.E. lived this sport much like Tiger Woods did with golf.”
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