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Turbo Magazine's Racer Of The Year - Lisa Kubo Interview

Staff Report
Apr 9, 2007 SHARE
0102_turp_01_z+racer_of_the_year_lisa_kubo+axe Photo 1/1   |   Turbo Magazine's Racer Of The Year - Lisa Kubo Interview

Editor's NoteLisa won our overall title of Racer Of The Year and the title in Quick Class. However, we elected to honor racers in each class of import drag racing and look forward to doing more for the 2001 season.

Lisa Kubo 2000 Racer Of The YearTurbo: Trace back your roots in racing for us. What were your influences?Lisa: My roots in racing can be traced back to members of my family who have been drag racing since before I was born. Just about every person I came in contact with "family friends"-you know the ones you call aunt or uncle-were racers. Then at about 7 years old, I went to my first Winternationals and met The Lady of Drag Racing, Shirley Muldowney. I just couldn't leave her pit until I got her autograph, which I still have to this day.

T: When did your journey really begin?LK: My journey started off right out of high school in 1992 at the street races with my NOS-equipped VW Fox. I used to go out to Terminal Island and mess around. Then I attended my first Battle in 1994 and missed only maybe a handful of Battles since.

T: What do you remember of your first pass in the Civic? When, where was that? How quick? LK: My first experience in a turbo Honda was a 300-hp street car which I was the first female to run 11's in. This was September of 1997 at a PIRA event in Pomona. My race car on the other hand was a disaster. It wasn't as easy to handle 545hp as 300hp. I was all over the track; I mis-shifted because I had never experienced tire shake and wheel spinning before! What a great 13-second pass that was!

T: When did you decide to race full time?LK: I still had a part time job until the middle of 1999; that's when I realized I couldn't work and race. I had to make a decision. It was a big risk, but with the help and support of everyone it has worked out for the best.

T: Has being a woman had any impact on your effort? Describe the effects.LK: It has been a bit tough as far as being the new person in the Quick Class. There is also a lot more pressure because I am running against the best of the best. Yes, to a good degree I had to prove that females can be just as competitive in a male-dominated sport. It is made out to be a big deal, but when it comes down to it, I'm just another competitor.

T: Run down how you approach a pass. What kind of mindset do you have and what do you do? What's your ritual?LK: Truthfully, I do not remember anything: just the burnout, lights and when it's time to stop. Everything in between is pure intense concentration.

T: What's the difference between a 9.70-second pass and a 9.21-second pass?LK: A 9.90 pass and the 9.70 pass feel the same; only the speeds get faster and it's a lot harder to stop. The 9.21 pass on the other hand, felt a lot more powerful because the car was running a 2.0-liter motor and the torque was insane. I remember I felt my head get pressed against the seat, it was even harder to stop the car and I even smelled the brakes once the car stopped. After I pulled off to weigh-in, I was taking off my equipment and noticed my neck brace was no longer around my neck; it was on the passenger-side floor! When everyone rushed me I had a clue something big had gone down.

T: How much in purse money have you collected in 2000?LK: Roughly $13,000 very taxable dollars.

T: What do sponsors expect from Kubo Racing?LK: My sponsors expect the continual progress of Lisa Kubo Racing. The professional image we portray on and off the track is as important as how we perform. They trust my judgement and leave everything up to me.

T: Where do you see the import race scene going in 2001?LK: I see this new generation of racing going in the same direction as it has been for years-straight uphill! There's a lot more high-quality cars in every class and more opportunities for everyone involved.

T: Where do you see the sport going long-term?LK: The scene is moving toward the NHRA level a lot faster than we all think. Soon there's going to be big rigs as tow vehicles, 40,000 plus in the stands and, 100 or more cars trying to qualify for the pro fields. As long as we all help each other and stick together, we will all reap the benefits. These next years are our proving years. It has taken NHRA over 50 years to get where they are, it has taken our generation of racing less than 10 years and look at the progress.

T: How do you figure into the scene in 2001?LK: For the 2001 season, I plan on looking back at the mistakes made in the 2000 season and correcting them. Along with a lot more traveling and meeting more new faces, I expect to remain competitive on the track. My fans are my number-one motivation and I really value the people I have met, took pictures with, signed autographs for, and even hung out with. They are the primary reason Lisa Kubo Racing progresses at such a pace.

T: What about long term?LK: I plan on racing until I am physically buried in my car! I also hope that this racing blood is passed on through the Kubo generations forever.

T: That's about as long term as it can get.LK: Yeah.

T: Have you considered building another car? If so what? Are you going to build another car?LK: Oh, most definitely. I need another car. I don't want to say what type of car yet because we're still looking for the body. I plan on staying with a fwd car but haven't decided what class it's going to compete in.

T: With all your experience, the travel, the passes, winning , losing what is Lisa Kubo's philosophy of racing?LK: My philosophy in racing is no matter who you are, what you have achieved, just never forget where you came from.

T: Describe some of your outrageous experiences on the road, on the track, in the garage.LK: These past two seasons have been the greatest. I have grown extremely close to a lot of the guys. From the late-night Walmart shopping sprees, the rental van bumper cars, to helping everyone choose that correct shade of blonde, the funky airplane music, to hitting air pockets that sent our plane plunging for 500 feet toward the ground, there have been a lot of memories made. The serious days when all of us bonded together to help each other get our cars running. The "Oh, no. We're on the wrong side of the Holland Tunnel. Hey, watch out! Those taxis aren't slowing down! We're gonna die!"

The late-night meetings with the Jotech crew at Denny's for coffee. I've been through tornado watches, insane thunderstorms in Indiana where the lightining is practically striking the trailer and visibility is zero. Toll roads are horrible, NJ must hate left turns and, by the way, don't get caught trying to fuel your own car there! Colorado's mountains are too high. Drivers in Chicago play Frogger with the pedestrians. If you can make it across the street, consider yourself lucky! Playing "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" with all the questions pertaining to the NHRA rulebook answered via walkie talkies.

We're all professionals in this industry, but we still make time to have fun together and that's what makes this new generation of drag racers so different; we're all one big family until the green light flashes.

Stephan Papadakis Outlaw ClassT: How many races did you compete in during 2000?Steph: 15

T: Run down your top finishes.S: 3 Wins, 6 Runner-ups

T: What's your best pass (e.t. & mph) of the season to date?S: 8.71 @ 168 MPH

T: What do you consider the highlight of the 2000 season? Why?S: Me, breaking into the 8-second range and the large amount of money to win for points champions.

T: What changes are you considering for 2001?See the SEMA article for more on Steph's new car.

T: Looking back, sum up the season as a whole.LK: Lots of traveling, Lots of broken records, Lots of racing, and shows and lots of friendships.

Craig Paisley Outlaw ClassT: What's your best pass (e.t. & mph) of the season to date?CP: 8.29 @ 162 MPH

T: What do you consider the highlight of the 2000 season? Why?CP: Racing against Steph. He was a fierce competitor and I respect what he is able to do with that car. We put on a good show every time we lined up but we still won every time. It's nice to drive a Honda, but it's nicer to drive a Toyota.

T: What changes are you considering for 2001?CP: We are thinking about campaigning two cars in 2001. Paisley Racing will still run the Supra and we are adding a Tacoma pickup truck to our program.

T: Looking back, sum up the season as a whole.CP: It was a season where we could not find greater success, yet it was still a disappointment because politics kept us from winning a championship.

Ari Yallon Street ClassT: How many races did you compete in during 2000?AY: This season we raced in 10 import events, including IDRC, ID Drag wars and NIRA. We were rained out of eight events this season, some as close as Texas and Okla. and some as far as Colo. and N.J..

T: Rundown your top finishes.AY: We were able to qualify in the number 1 position at every event this season except Englishtown (July 2) when our engine got hurt. We won every event except for the two where we had mechanical problems (broken axle at Motorplex and wreck at Moroso).

T: What's your best pass (ET and MPH) of the season to date?AY: 9.587@147.66 Mph on DOT tires.

T: What do you consider the highlights of the 2000 season? Why?AY: This season has been very, very exciting for us, full of new experiences with several highlights coming to mind.

At the beginning of the season we broke into the 9s, breaking all the records, with a 9.62 at the IDRC event in Houston on March 12.

On July 2nd at the IDRC "Summer Slam" in N.J., our engine was broken during our first qualifying pass, but we were able to replace the entire engine in under 3 hours, just in time for the eliminations. We went on to win our class, and received tons of respect from fellow racers and disappointed competitors. That event really tested our commitment, motivation and drive, and after all the hard work that the team put in, we felt like we really earned our first place trophy.

On August 20th in Maple Grove, Pa. we went on to raise the bar and bring the IDRC "Street 8" world record into the 9s with our 9.58 pass on DOT-rated tires. That event still holds as the only one where a "Street 8" racer ran a 9-second pass during competition.

T: What changes are you considering for 2001?AY: We are looking at converting the car for competition in the Quick 16 or Outlaw 8. We're not certain what rule changes will be announced for the next season so we're not sure what direction we'll be going. We intend to bring on a full-time crew chief and are seeking more sponsors to help us have another winning season. We would like to attend 20-25 races next year, and need to have a car that would be legal and competitive to race under the rules of several sanctioning bodies. We will decide what direction to go in when the 2001 rules come out, and after meeting with our sponsors. Whichever direction we go in, you can count on us being noticed and setting new standards in the 2001 race season.

T: How many races did you compete in during 2000?TS: Five.

T: Run down your top finishes.TS: We qualified number one in four racers and won each. In the other race, we qualified second and finished second.

T: What's your best pass (e.t. & mph) of the season to date?TS: 10.91 @ 123 MPH

Abel Ibarra Pro ClassT: How many races did you compete in during 2000?AI: Eight (with two remaining as of press time).

T: Run down your top finishes.AI: I won a total of eight races.

T: What's your best pass (e.t. & mph) of the season to date?AI: 7.58 @ 175.4 MPHI was on a 7.30 run when I broke racing Rafealito. My 7.58 was made with a 4.83 1/8-mile and I ran a 4.74 at 134 mph against Rafealito before the problems.

T: What about the Summit Racing 200-mph Club and its $25,000 payout for the first import door-slammer to blast a 200-mph quarter mile? Can Flaco Racing collect the cash?AI: My 7.58 was at 31 psi. Against Rafealito we were running 34 psi. The car's maximum boost is 43 psi and I have a NOS system I have yet to pull the trigger on. The biggest challenge is track consistency. The NHRA runs on great tracks that are immaculately prepared at every venue. I have yet to run on a surface that could handle 43 psi, never mind the nitrous. So I have not had the opportunity to make the passes needed to set up the car for 200 mph. Beyond the track surface, I will need to play with gearing, make some weight adjustments and if needed build a special motor with lightweight rotors. To answer the question...maybe. On the right surface it's definitely reachable. What a ride it will be.

ARI YALLON
Feb 27 ID Drag-Wars Houston Raceway Park, TX 1st
Mar 12 IDRC Houston raceway Park, TX 1st
May 14 IDRC Maple Grove Raceway, PA 1st
Jul 2 IDRC Englishtown Raceway, NJ 1st
Aug 20 IDRC Maple Grove Raceway, PA 1st
Oct 2 Lower Level Thunder Valley Raceway, OK 1st
Oct 15 TX Import Rage River City Raceway, TX 1st
Oct 21 IDRC Bandimere Speedway, CO 1st
Aug 12 ID Drag-Wars Texas Motorplex, TX 2nd (Broken Axle)
Apr 9 NIRA Moroso Raceway, FL Quarter-Final (Wreck)
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