Massey Explains His Actions At NHRA Banquet
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Shortly after last year’s season-ending NHRA awards banquet, Don Schumacher Racing announced that it was cutting Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey from the team.
Initially, no reason was given for the decision to cut Massey, who had finished third in points in 2012 – 50 behind teammate Antron Brown.
In a short press release announcing the dismissal, team-owner Don Schumacher said, “I appreciate what Spencer did for us the past two years, but I have decided to go in a different direction. I wish Spencer all the luck in the world and hope he returns to driving next season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.”
However, rumors circulated that native-Texan Massey had been drinking heavily and had mis-behaved at the banquet. Several calls placed to Massey’s cell phone by RacinToday.com senior writer John Sturbin after the rumors made the rounds went unreturned.
Last week, the team announced that Massey was returning to the team for the 2013 season. That news hit just hours after Brown, the first black driver to win an NHRA championship, said in a media teleconference that he really had had no problems with Massey in the past.
This afternoon, DSR released a question/answer news release with Schumacher and Massey.
The following is a copy of that Q and A:
QUESTION: Why did you decide on Nov. 23 to part ways with Spencer?
DON 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?
DS: 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?
DS: 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 car and Rodger and Karen Comstock decided to be the primary on Jack’s 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 on board with that team.
QUESTION: Why did you take a soft, six-pack cooler into the NHRA Awards Banquet on Nov. 12 last year?
SPENCER 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 was speaking, and did you throw a beer?
SM: 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?
SM: 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?
DS: 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.3 Comments