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History A bad day at the drags in the 1960s.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by James Maxwell, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. 55FORDWGN
    Joined: Feb 16, 2009
    Posts: 210


    Downer story; Yes Kill it; No 3 weeks ago saw a 10 sec. Camaro hit the rail at the 1/8 mile, no one hurt, not much damage done, fixed the guard rail...........more racing, guard rails good idea. Race on
  2. Fenders
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 3,922


    I didn't know about this and found it interesting... I'm amazed at how many would prefer to ignore the past and forget about history.
    OK lets ignore this incident and continue to build dragstrips with no safety rails or fences to protect the spectators...
    Do you teach your children history? Do you tell them how rods were built back in the day? Or do you prefer them to remain ignorant?
    Do you ever watch the History Channel?
    Many died in WWII, should we forget that too and not remember our Veterans every November 11 ?

  3. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,792


    It's not ignoring, it's moving on. A part of the healing process.
  4. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,676


    Can you elaborate a little more on what "track" you're speaking of? Thanks. Butch/56sedandelivery.
  5. Idlzruf
    Joined: Oct 24, 2009
    Posts: 93


    Awful yet it happend again in tenn when that dragster lost control in a burnout killing 4.

  6. Theres only one track in Spokane, and although narrow, has guard rails and fencing all the way down...
  7. I would pray that their deaths would not be in vain and for the children that never had a chance to decide.
  8. Jay Tyrrell
    Joined: Dec 9, 2007
    Posts: 1,631

    Jay Tyrrell

    Fuck I wonder how many guys roar down that street for old time sake. Look close at the speed bumps it looks like this has definately been a problem in the past. People stompping it past the mobile homes! lololol
    I love it! (Not the accident!)
  9. Wildcat Garage
    Joined: Jul 3, 2007
    Posts: 59

    Wildcat Garage
    from Marion,NC

    The Dixie twister.....Houston Platt's.....Vega Funny Car was at the Moonshiners Festival a couple of weeks ago.

    I thought about my friend Glenn Ray Loftis.
    His father was Edgar Loftis and was killed in this terrible accident.
    His father had never been to a drag race. As Glenn Ray and his brother were leaving,his father asked him them if it was ok for him to go_Of course they said yes.

    Edgar Loftis walked off into the crowd to get a better view. Glenn Ray was not with has father when the accident occurred.He never saw his father alive again.

    That was a sad March Day in Marion,NC
  10. ratrodder34
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 2,219

    from Irvine,ky.

    Whats a
  11. bowtie1015000
    Joined: Nov 27, 2009
    Posts: 1

    from Austin,TX

    For one man ,that was there that day,the tragedy of motorsports hasn't ended for him yet.He lost his father that day.I am in the process of writing an article that should be published within the next two months.I am still in research and verification of facts.Anybody that has direct knowledge of the events that day are wecomed to contact me at .
  12. captmullette
    Joined: Oct 15, 2009
    Posts: 1,929


    i was there that day with my buddy .we normally parked on the fence at the finish line but walked down to the stating line to watch the start. it was awful, it took a long time to go to a nother drag race......
  13. Thts the drag strip? Even without the houses there now and a fence it scares the shit out of me.
    I suddenly hold my manhood in low reguard!
  14. fordflashback
    Joined: Mar 9, 2008
    Posts: 48


    It seems a little creepy to put a trailer park in there.

    I think it's an interesting story, thanks for posting it. There's not much info out there on this tragedy, much like Richard Petty's similar accident in 1965. Here's a story about Platt...............

    Restoring race car helps Platt put tragic day behind

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Published on: 05/25/08
    It was a scene Rocky Platt once thought he would never see.
    His father, the old drag racer Huston Platt, and his one-time crew member, Randall Davis, were standing beside Platt's old Camaro Funny Car, the Dixie Twister, which Davis recently restored. They laughed and smiled as they reminisced about their glory years in the 1960s, when Platt's drag cars were considered among the fastest Chevrolets in America and he was in such demand that a Chicago-based agent handled his bookings.
    <!--endtext--><!--endclickprintinclude--><TABLE border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=175 align=left><TBODY><TR><TD>[​IMG]
    Kimberly Smith / AJC

    </TD></TR><TR><TD class=caption>Huston Platt (front, with son Rocky, left) of Buford had lost interest in racing for decades until former crew member Randall Davis (right) found his old dragster, nicknamed the Dixie Twister, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and restored it. Good memories came back, helping deal with a painful memory.



    </TD></TR><TR><TD class=caption>Headlines for Covington drag race accident in 1969.


    Kimberly Smith / AJC

    </TD></TR><TR><TD class=caption>The 'Dixie Twister' at the Platt family home.



    </TD></TR><TR><TD class=caption>Randall Davis tracked down the old Dixie Twister and restored it, engine and all.

    On the other side of the car, 14-year-old Jordon Platt tried on his grandfather's old helmet and seemed to be soaking in every inch of the car he had just steered as it was unloaded off a trailer onto the driveway of their home in Buford. It was a happy time as the Platts and Davis talked about racing against — and beating — the big-name drag racers of the day and winning match races against NASCAR stars such as Richard Petty, even though the Platt cars usually lacked the factory backing others had. "I beat 'em all," Platt said.
    They also talked about life on the road — about traveling all the way from Atlanta to Maine only to have a race rained out and making it back to Columbia for another race, then on to a track in Virginia. And they recalled the night they ran out of gas on the way to a track in Canada and siphoned enough from a farm tractor to make it to the next town.
    Nearby, Rocky Platt perused a scrapbook filled with yellowing newspaper accounts of his father's many triumphs.
    The smiles and the laughs were made possible because in restoring the Dixie Twister, Davis also restored its driver. Seeing his old car in its former glory has brought Huston Platt back to the sport he once loved. It's helping him and his family move past their family nightmare, past one of auto racing's darkest days.

    Unsafe track conditions
    On March 2, 1969, at Yellow River Dragstrip in Covington, Huston Platt was in the Twister racing Frank Oglesby on a narrow, sandy track. Fans crowded to within a few feet of the track to get a better view of the cars.
    Witnesses said one of those fans reached onto the track to retrieve a beer can just as Platt deployed his parachute to slow his car. The opened parachute swept up the man, killing him instantly.
    The weight of the victim against the parachute yanked Platt's car into the spectator area. Twelve people died, and more than 40 more were injured. It remains the worst racing disaster on U.S. soil.
    Investigators determined that unsafe track conditions were to blame. Racing, as it has done throughout history, had outrun the safety measures of the day. But the incident led to sweeping safety reforms in all types of motorsports.
    "It was going to happen," Platt said. "It was just a matter of when and where. There wasn't a track in 10 states that was qualified to run those cars back then.
    "It was a bad thing, but it led to safe racing, if you can say it's safe."
    Other than the damage to the fiberglass body, Platt's car, which he was racing for the first time, wasn't seriously damaged. Investigators looked at every part and determined that there was no fault with the vehicle.
    Still, the incident weighed heavily on Platt.
    "I've got feelings just like everybody else," he said.
    Platt raced on for a couple of years but grew tired of trying to outrun the powerful Chrysler hemi engines of that era. He sold his car and tried to forget about racing.
    "When I gave it up, I didn't want to talk about it," he said. "The only time racing ever came up, it was always about Yellow River. I just shut it out completely. ...
    "I got my mind on other things, worked, played golf. I didn't even think about racing or watch it on TV until a few years ago."
    He and Davis drifted apart and eventually lost track of each other, but Davis often thought of Platt.
    "He was like a daddy to me," Davis said.

    Found in Nova Scotia
    A few years back, Davis began searching for the old Dixie Twister, but every lead turned cold. Frustrated, he abandoned the search. Then a call came. A friend of a friend knew somebody who knew something.
    Following up on the lead, Davis drove to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where under a tarp, covered with junk, was Platt's old car. He brought it home and painstakingly restored it. Once it was done, but before he put Platt's name over the door, he called him to seek his approval.
    A date was agreed upon, and Davis took the car to Platt's home. Only afterward did the Platts realize that the date was 39 years to the day after the Yellow River crash.
    Rocky Platt was worried about his father's reaction, but only for a moment.
    "He stood straight up and smiled," Rocky said. "It was amazing. Even my kids noticed the look on his face."
    The man who once tried so hard to avoid racing, now wanted to be a part of it again.
    "It was a pretty good feeling," Huston said. "I wanted to get back in the car."
    After Davis left, Platt's grandsons began searching the Internet for information about his career. They were stunned at the amount of information posted.
    Bob Frey, the longtime traveling announcer for the National Hot Rod Association, said Platt, along with his brother, Hubert, were key players in the formative years of the sport of drag racing.
    "He was as much a part of the fabric of the sport in the beginning as anybody," Frey said. "He and his brother were colorful characters with good operations."
    Last month, for the first time since 1975, Huston Platt went back to the races. He attended the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, where he spent an afternoon joking with old friends, shaking hands with fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Only one person mentioned the crash.
    "The car has changed that," Rocky Platt said. "I can't thank Randall enough. Now the good stuff can come up, and we can get past the Yellow River thing."
    Davis has spent untold thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of labor on the car. But he says it's an investment that's already paid off.
    "To see Huston smile when we cranked it up was enough for me," he said. "As long as it brings back any good memories for him, that's all I care about. It's not for me. It's for Huston."
  15. c-10 simplex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2009
    Posts: 1,330

    c-10 simplex

    OK, not to further aggravate such a sensitive subject (but i'm selfish like that), but if the accident occured in march 69 and car in question is the "new" 2nd generation camaro, how is this possible?
  16. il Revrunde
    Joined: Jun 22, 2005
    Posts: 224

    il Revrunde

    What a morbid thread. I mean really. Obviously long overdue condolences to all involved. But thanks for that Buzz Killington. I hope to never have a drink with you.
  17. Raging64
    Joined: Apr 23, 2009
    Posts: 3

    from Canton GA

    After doing alot of research on the Yellow River incident, I have become friends with Frank Oglesby, the driver of Dyno Don's Cougar which was racing Huston Platt in his Dixie Twister on March 2, 1969. Alot of folks asked how something like this happens, the Blown Nitro Funny Cars of those days before 1969 were not factory backed and the NHRA didn't have a class for them. The Nitro Funny Cars were very much crowd pleasers and track promoter would book as many as they could afford for match races. That allowed the bypass of a sanctioning body like the NHRA which may have required some safety precautions to prevent what happened at YR. The tracks that didn't have NHRA races were known as outlaw tracks, like YR.

    For those of you that are interested in the early days of Funny Car, check out this article written by Frank:
  18. Topper
    Joined: Feb 2, 2010
    Posts: 90


    I still have a trophy from Yellow River for running my 64 chevy. I keep it as a reminder of how fast things can go bad and to encourage me to drive safely. Others fail to mention that fans would jump the fence between races to get to the other side. I can't remember how many times I heard the announcer tell the crowd," We are not going to turn these cars loose until you stop crossing the track". Regardless, no wire fence could have stopped that horrible wreck.

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