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History Chester Drag Strip

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by frank spittle, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. dmc3113
    Joined: Jul 28, 2007
    Posts: 235

    dmc3113
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    I have heard that one of the Arfons cars crashed at Chester.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  2. Frank : There you go shaking more dusty memories outta the brain-rafters...I may be totally wrong ,(which my 71 y/o brain often is..) but I believe Jim K. also had a V-8 MG TD... I remember seeing it around Charlotte
    And , think his family owned a bowling-alley/pool hall on E. Morehead St near Cedar St
     
  3. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Arfons did crash at Chester and walked away. I will have more on it later.


    Jimmy Kaperonis did have probably the fastest car on the streets of Charlotte with that Chevy powered MG-TD back in the late '50s or early '60s. Kaperonis was totally into sports cars. He raced in the USAC races at Daytona in 1959 in his Corvette. I believe that is a modified '56 or '57 Corvette he was driving at Chester a few posts back
     
  4. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    thanks.jpg This is a thank you note from the '57 souvenir program acknowledging the individuals and groups who had helped make Bob Osiecki's Chester Drag Strip become one of the premier drag strips in the Nation.

    Osiecki mentioned the "Road Rebels" car club from Greenville S.C. Were any of you members or does anyone remember that club?
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  5. dmc3113
    Joined: Jul 28, 2007
    Posts: 235

    dmc3113
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    Cecil Curry was a member of the Road Rebels. I have a 1958 Rods Illustrated that has a story on Cecil's '32 roadster. I think the club ran the timing equipment.
     
  6. Race Artist
    Joined: Feb 9, 2008
    Posts: 954

    Race Artist
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    The Bondy Long car looks like it might be one of the NASCAR Speedway division cars that ran ovals ... they were mostly outdated sprint and Championship cars with stock block motors. The Kareonis car has to be some sort of sportscar special Curious car ... I always liked the one-of oddball built sports cars of that era.
    Joel
    [​IMG]

     
  7. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    You know your stuff Joel. Not many know about the NASCAR Speedway Division. Long's car could very have been one of those cars. I have researched those cars and have written a history of the '52 season that Buck Baker won. I am told by a magazine it will be published this year to coincide with Baker's induction into the NASCAR HOF. It is a story I know you will enjoy.
     
  8. Race Artist
    Joined: Feb 9, 2008
    Posts: 954

    Race Artist
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    Let me know when and what magazine the Speedway Division story will appear in Frank. I'm eager to read it. Baker ran a number of different powerplants in his car as I recall. Here's an unkown photo from what looks like Darlington ... along with a NSSN plug in there with the guy selling papers. The other one is Buck Baker.
    Also to bring it back to Chester Dragstrip ... I'm real curious about Kaperonis' sportscar there. Have you tracked down an more history on him and his cars?
    Joel
     

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  9. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Buck Baker1.jpg I have not been able to find out anymore about Kaperonis. His obit was in the Charlotte Observer a few years ago. Like with so many others I wish I had took the time to talk to him about his racing days. He was of Greek decent I was told and his family owned restaurants. His Chevy powered MG-TD had everything on the streets of Charlotte covered for awhile. This was after the unidentified car.

    I have not seen those Speedway Division cars before and I spent a lot of time on this story. Thanks for posting. One appears to be Jimmy powered and the other Olds powered. Neither is Bakers car. His was Cadillac powered. I will let you know more about the feature when I find out. The mag had planned to run my story this summer but is backed up because of so many death tributes to do (Shelby for one) and on top of that it is bi-monthly. It may be early next year but like I said you will enjoy it very much. Why did I do a story on Baker and the Speedway Division cars you ask. Because I was later involved in a small way. Remember, Buck Baker ran that car out of Mint Hill, N.C.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  10. BobRob
    Joined: Jun 13, 2013
    Posts: 1

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    After finding this picture in my Dad's collection, I began researching the history of racing at the Chester Airport. I came across this thread and wanted to share it with you all. So far it's the only picture I have found, but I recall my dad talking about the races that were featured there. Enjoy.
     

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  11. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Thanks for your input BobRob. In my research I found out there was Sports Car racing at Chester by using multiple runways but your picture is the first one I have seen. You have brought "only a vision" to life. I look forward to seeing posts of other stuff you dig up. I hope this thread continues to bring out what an incredible promoter Bob Ociecki was and what an amazing place Chester was in the '50s. My biggest regret is it closed before I was old enough to drive there and have the memories of it so many others have.
     
  12. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Cecil Curry..jpg It has been extremely hard to get information on this early mecca of drag racing but thanks to a new lead from HAMB member dmc3113 I have got in touch with one of the first participants at Chester Drag Strip. His name is Cecil Curry and he was president of the Road Rebels Car Club in Greenville, South Carolina. When I called tonight he was on his way out the door but we talked briefly about his Olds powered '32 Ford roadster. He said I could call back tomorrow and I am thrilled to have a chance to talk to another person that can help me with the history of Chester.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  13. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Cecil Curry Roadster.jpg I had a long conversation with Cecil Curry today which was not only helpful with Chester Drag Strip history but also with the early days of drag racing and hot rodding in general in the Carolinas. He is one of our greatest but not well known since he quit drag racing after getting married in 1963.

    Cecil came home from Korea in 1953 and immediately got into hot rodding. His first build was so nice it made the cover of Rods Illustrated in the mid '50s. It was a car he drove and raced on the street and at the few drag strips that were available at that time. It will take many posts to do justice for this guy. At 83 he and his grandson are building a 500 c.i. Cadillac powered '23 T roadster.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  14. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
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    Cecil Curry.jpg After returning from Korea in 1953 Cecil went to work for the town of Greenville S.C. He also started work on his roadster and finished it in '54. The Road Rebels Car Club was formed about this time and Cecil was elected president. Like in so many cities hot rodders were staging illegal late night drag races out on the main drag but Cecil and the Road Rebels worked with the police to organize legal drag races, first on a blocked highway and later at the Greenville military air base. The Road Rebels furnished personel and the timing equipment. Cecil was also racing his Olds powered roadster. These were some of the earliest organized drag races in the nation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  15. the fletch
    Joined: Dec 23, 2012
    Posts: 20

    the fletch
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  16. the fletch
    Joined: Dec 23, 2012
    Posts: 20

    the fletch
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    dave reitz and dick burgess
     
  17. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 11,407

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    Great history, stories and pictures Frank.
     
  18. the fletch
    Joined: Dec 23, 2012
    Posts: 20

    the fletch
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    here are more
     

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  19. the fletch
    Joined: Dec 23, 2012
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    the fletch
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    here are a few more
     
  20. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
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    from SW Wyoming

    That red, white & blue car in post #68 looks a lot like The Sherk Used Cars Spl. that was run on the IMCA circuit around 1950. It was a winner at The Minnesota State Fair around that time. I can't recall the driver, or where it was from, but I think it was from the SE. There was a picture of it in an Open Wheel from the '80's.
     
  21. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Thanks for your contribution fletch. Do you know if Dave Reitz is the same who was crew chief for driver Tom Sneden in the Bob Banning Funny Cars? I see him at the Henderson N.C. show each year. He and Sneden and Banning attended several of the Super Stock Reunions I organized in the '90s.
     
  22. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Thanks AHotRod. This needs to be documented while there are still those who remember.
     
  23. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Cecil Curry,.jpg In my conversation with Cecil Curry he told me that Bob Osiecki came to him as president of the Road Rebels in 1956 when he was putting together Chester Drag Strip. He was aware of how successful the Greenville Drag Races were in the mid '50s and so the Road Rebels were assigned the timing duties at Chester.

    Here is Cecil's tow car. He said he was an Oldsmobile man and chose an Olds engine to power his '32 roadster.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  24. the fletch
    Joined: Dec 23, 2012
    Posts: 20

    the fletch
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    hubert holden chester s.c. 1958.jpg

    jerri barron  big  bob osiecki  edderd  chester 1958.jpg

    serop setto postoian chester s.c. 1958.jpg

    marvin temple  1958 chester,s.c.jpg dave reitz is one and the same as snedens guy.
     
  25. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Setto Postoian is not well known partly because he did not race Fuel Dragsters very long but I have heard Don Garlits say he was one of the first to learn how to run nitro successfully. He has mentioned him numerious times at nostalgia events. You could tell he was impressed with his racing. I have not seen any pictures of him at Chester until now and that picture says it is from 1958.
     
  26. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Curry-Hopkins..jpg Curry-Hopkins.jpg In my conversation with Cecil Curry he said after racing his '32 Roadster for several seasons he wanted to go faster. He read about Scotty Fenn's dragster kits and ordered one of the first in late '58 he believes. He pulled the Olds engine out of '32 and sold the rest of it for enough to build the dragster. Ronnie Hopkins came aboard as his partner. They used the Olds engine until it blew and switched to Chevy power. Cecil said he tested it at Chester in '59 just before the track closed for good.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  27. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

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    Curry-Hopkins,.jpg Curry & Hopkins won Top Eliminator at the NHRA Divisional race at Pellion S.C. in 1960 which allowed them to compete at the NHRA US Nationals in Detroit that year. This picture is from Detroit
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  28. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
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  29. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Curry-Hopkins..jpg I finally took time to drive to Greenville and meet Cecil Curry. He is a very nice guy who relishes his days of hot rodding. He let me look through his racing scrapbook and also bring some of it back with me to copy. Now, I will be able to add more info on this thread. One thing I found out. Chester did not close in 1959 as I had come to believe. Some of his scrapbook contained coverage from 1960.

    Another thing I found out. The race in June 1959 when Don Garlits got burned. I have wondered who won Top Eliminator that day. It was Cecil.

    Here he is being presented the trophy by Bob Osiecki. Check out those 6 carbs on the Olds engine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  30. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

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    Bill Stanley.jpg Bill Stanley won A/G at one of the 1959 races with this '32 Ford.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014

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