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History Chester Drag Strip

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

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

    frank spittle
    Member

    View attachment 2024420 View attachment 2024420 Here is Bondy Long being pushed in his dragster by a new Pontiac convertible in 1959 at Chester. Long was only 19 years old but had been drag racing since he turned 16. According to a story written by Mike Hembree, that is when he moved back to Camden SC from Delaware. His mother was Mary DuPont. She had married into the DuPont family after her husband's death in WW11. Maynard Bond "Bondy" Long II left his mother at the DuPont mansion when he turned 16 in '56 and got into hot rodding in Camden. His mother had begged him not to move but he was determined to move back to where his friends lived after moving away when he was 10. He was admired for his hard work in racing but his friends knew where the money was coming from. He was an avid drag racer at Chester all the years it was open.

    In Feb. 1963 his mother set up a secret meeting with Bill France Sr. They say it was unusual for France to meet anyone at the Daytona airport but he made an exception for Mrs. DuPont. Bondy was at the Winter Daytona Drags near Daytona Speedway in Bunnell Fla and was invited by a friend to visit Daytona Speedway. This was 1963 and Bondy had never been to an oval track race. He called his mother and told her "these guys are paid lots of money when they win" -- "well, I might have to check on that" she told him.....and she did.

    Soon, Bondy was looking for a Stock Car and settled on a '63 Petty Plymouth. At 23 he was suddenly a NASCAR team owner. He had no experience as a stock car driver and hired Bobby Issac to drive and they had some success in their rookie year and Bondy wanted to stay with NASCAR.

    Late in the year Long and some of the DuPont family members got involved in discussions with Ford factory execs. and John Holman at Holman & Moody. When the talks were over Bondy had a factory sponsorship to run Fords and he hired Ned Jarrett, the 1961 NASCAR Champion. Jarrett won 15 races in '64, sat on the pole 7 times and finished second in the points to Richard Petty. It was an outstanding season for a two year old team.

    In 1965 the team won 13 races, sat on the pole 9 times and won the Nascar Championship, giving Jarrett his second and Ford their first in NASCAR'S top level. Bondy also got back to his first love -drag racing- with the "BOWANI" '65 Mustang 427 Ultra Stocker. Life was good!

    But the 1966 season started out a little shakey. Ned Jarrett was getting tired of racing and when Ford pulled out of Nascar mid season he retired. There were no NASCAR wins for Bondy Long in '66. But he had some success in the 2400 lb Funny Car class with the "BOWANI" altered wheelbase long nose Mustang with Carson Hyman driving.

    After the '68 season Bondy Long got out of racing. He was only 28 but had accomplished so much in his 12 years of racing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  2. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Cecil Curry VS Bondy Long.jpg Cecil Curry and Bondy Long in the Top Eliminator final at Chester June 20th, 1959. Curry got the win
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  3. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Gene Sim's '34 ford.jpg Gene Sims won B/G with his '34 Ford at one of the Chester races in '59. His opponent in the '39 Ford is unidentified.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  4. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Don Garlits.jpg Here is a story on Don Garlits' engine explosion at Chester by the local paper.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  5. marco427
    Joined: Oct 30, 2013
    Posts: 3

    marco427
    Member
    from Jasper, GA

    Finding this thread was like visiting a really interesting episode of my past life. My wife (then GF) and I lived in Chester from January to September 1971. During that short stay, we became friends with two of the people mentioned in earlier posts, Ray Beatty and Butch Church. I arrived in Chester as manager of one of the town's larger industrial enterprises, the Sun Chemical textile chemical plant. As such, I was introduced to Chester's mover and shakers, but quickly found my comfort zone with the town's bikers and hot rodders.

    At the time, I owned an original 427 Cobra which I deemed to be in serious need of some southern horsepower. This came in the form of a medium riser engine with heads blueprinted in Ray's shop in downtown Chester. My woman and I spent evenings watching Ray work his magic while the three of us shared the six pack we brought to the party. Once the engine was buttoned up and re- installed in the car (also by Ray), it felt like it had grown four additional cylinders. In spite of being a diehard Chevy guy, Ray admitted it "hit a good lick".

    At the time, Butch Church had a Harley Sportster and a yellow '67 427 Corvette convertible. For some reason, we never tried the Cobra against his 'Vette, but after he bent the Harley against a car, we owned it for just long enough to swap a few of its chrome goodies for the plain stuff on our own Sportster.

    I find it hard to believe that all that happened over 40 years ago. I wish that I had the suds to play that hard today.
     
  6. sinclairmafia1
    Joined: Oct 17, 2013
    Posts: 14

    sinclairmafia1
    Member

    Frank ......if you could please give me a call .....I have had an idea that's been tarrying on my mind for a LONGGGGGGG time......Todd Sinclair 1-803-209-6524....P.S. I LIVE IN CHESTER!!!!!!!
     
  7. enfieldjoe
    Joined: Jun 5, 2009
    Posts: 839

    enfieldjoe
    Member
    from Eustis, FL

    Very interesting thread. Thanks for taking the time to share knowledge about drag racing back in the day. I'm subscribed!
     
  8. mreitz
    Joined: Nov 5, 2013
    Posts: 2

    mreitz
    Member

    Yes Frank. That is the same Dave Reitz from back in 1958 in the pick-up. I know because I'm his son. FYI...He turns 75 this Saturday, November 9. He will be racing at Capitol Raceway this Saturday in a Nostalgia SS race 50 years after he won the first ever SS race at Capitol in 1963.
     
  9. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Tell you dad I missed him at Henderson this year.
     
  10. mreitz
    Joined: Nov 5, 2013
    Posts: 2

    mreitz
    Member

    I will tell him you said hey. He missed Henderson because he was racing in the 422 Allstars race at Atco.
     
  11. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Horace Hart.jpg This This story is personal for me and will take some time to type but I hope you find it worthy of your time. Please go to the bottom and read the newspaper clipping. The heading is again about Cecil Curry running top speed at Chester but the write-up starts with Horace Hart and his B/S '56 Chevy with the factory twin four barrel 225 horse engine. He ran 95 mph at Chester with his '56 in 1959!!!

    Horace is an old friend I have not talked to in over 25 years. In the early '60s he had replaced the 225 horse engine with a 425 horse 409. He also had a 4-speed and a 4.88 gear. Anyone from the Charlotte area who was into fast cars back then will tell you that car was unbeatable on the street. Not only did he have the most powerful Chevy engine at the time but he also had several years experience of setting up the chassis for drag racing. And it looked totally stock with original black paint, etc. Ocassionally I would ride around with Horace hoping someone would pull up beside him at a red light and miraculosly not know about his '56. It didn't happen often but occasionally someone would get their clock cleaned. It was absolutely thrilling for me to feel the acceleration and watch him handle that horsepower. In about '65 Horace sold the 409 engine and didn't come around the drive-ins much. He had a family and started spending more time at home.

    When I was going over Cecil's clippings and ran across this clipping it made me want to contact him again and show it to him. Sadly, I found him through an upcoming auction of his living estate.....scheduled just two days away. I could hardly wait to see him again and talk about that '56 Chevy.

    When I got to his home I looked around but didn't see anyone who looked like him so I asked if he was there yet and was told no.....he was in a rest home but his daughter would be there soon. It really took the wind out of my sail. Since I would not get to see him I would find out more about his condition from his daughter, who I do not know. In the mean time I would look around and see if anything to do with the '56 was going to be auctioned off. THERE WAS !!!!!!!!!!!!...not much but something very important to me. I'll finish in the next post.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  12. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    concord drag strip 024.jpg concord drag strip 026.jpg concord drag strip 031.jpg concord drag strip 027.jpg concord drag strip 032.jpg I looked over all the auction items and was disappointed not to find something from that '56 Chevy. Then almost buried was two very old trophies. The cars on top of the trophies were definitely Fifties looking and when I picked them up......THERE IT WAS....THE ITA LOGO....THE INTERNATIONAL TIMING ASSOCIATION....THE TROPHIES GIVEN TO CHESTER DRAG STRIP WINNERS!!!!! It would be silly to describe how excited I was. Now I had a chance to end up with a couple Chester Drag Strip momentos....won by a special old friend.

    I had no idea how much they were worth but I knew I was going to keep raising my hand until the last bid. There were several bidders that had the same idea but there was no chance they were going home with them. I am thankful his family offered them.

    They are both in mint condition. There is no doubt with the care he gave them they were special to him. But in his present condition... no more. Now, they will be a part of my estate sale some day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  13. Fedman
    Joined: Dec 17, 2005
    Posts: 1,163

    Fedman
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    Very cool, I am very happy you were able to get the trophies. Great story!
     
  14. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Thanks Fedman
     
  15. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Van Hatley.jpg If you were going to drag races around Charlotte in the '50s and '60s you will remember Van Hatley. Van was one of the most successful racers this area has produced. His career spanned from 1957-69.

    Like so many others Van got his start in drag racing in 1957 at Chester driving the '55 Chevy 2-door sedan he bought in '55. He would win an astounding percentage of the races he entered. I heard more than once all the others in his class would be running for second place and it was true. His car was ALWAYS prepared to win and the reason he won so much was because he NEVER broke.

    This is a picture of that '55 Chevy when he drove it out to one of the Shuffletown Dragway Reunions I organized almost 30 years ago. It was the first time he had driven it in years.

    Van passed away November 25th at age 82. As usual I got to see many old friends at his funeral. And I also got to see that '55 for the first time since the reunion. It looks just like the picture. His son Mickey drove it out as a tribute to his father.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  16. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    Me and my dad knew Van Hatley from car shows, my dad was into 55-57's. He knew him from the old days at Shuffletown etc. I hadn't seen him for a long time! Remember the 55. His personal liscence was 55 Chev and my dads was Chev 55 becauce he had tried to get the one Van had but was too late, thats how they got back together at the shows, showing their 55's
     
  17. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    And Frank, my dad would get trophies at Shuffletown or Concord or Chester, I don't know what for, I would find them and break the cars off and play with them, I can't remember doing it I must have really been little! Also , just talked to my dad, He said Van was the first to do 100 at Concord in a 55, and was the first in the area to use a 4 speed in one. John also said he kept his maroon and white 55 clean as a pin, and you couldn't beat him, he remembered Horace's 56, but didn't know his name.Thanks Frank!
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  18. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Your dad must be about my age. The first time I saw Van Hatley race his '55 and Horace Hart race his 409 powered '56 Chevy in a 1/4 was at Concord Drag Strip. The first time I remember going there was sometime after I graduated from high school in 1962. Chester had been closed a couple years. Van was already racing his '55. He also teched in cars there.

    I didn't know Horace the first time I remember him racing his 409 '56 there but I do remember his times. He was racing it with cheater slicks and exhaust system still hooked up and ran low 13s at 105 mph....in 1963!! That is about the same as the way he raced it on the streets of Charlotte when I was occasionally riding around with him a year or two later. That may not sound very fast for a street car today but it was almost unbeatable in the mid sixties. He was the only guy that had an almost new 409 engine in a tri-five Chevy on the street at the time. It was bad-ass.
     
  19. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Entries.jpg This is a portion of the entry list for the first Chester Drag Strip Nationals in 1957. Van Hatley and his '55 Chevy was one of several hundred. You will probably recognize some of the entries.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  20. dmc3113
    Joined: Jul 28, 2007
    Posts: 235

    dmc3113
    Member

    I see Ronnie Hopkins from Greenville listed as entering a '32 Ford Roadster. Wonder if it belonged to Cecil Curry?
     
  21. Frank : Hows about posting the rest of that list ???? It's quite a list of names outta the past ...

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

    frank spittle
    Member

    Entries2.jpg
    Here is the rest of the page Stan. There are two more pages and I will scan about 25 entries at a time so they are large enough to read.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  23. 59 brook
    Joined: Jun 12, 2005
    Posts: 1,017

    59 brook
    Member

    Really cool reading about the old drag racing history. I have seen on tv and in the newspapers that Miami international airport was closed recently for some high speed auto driving and I believe collier county airport has also done this recently. If this reunion is something you want to Persue you may want to check into this again with a mention of these 2 south Florida events
     
  24. jwitt
    Joined: Jun 21, 2009
    Posts: 1

    jwitt
    Member
    from Florida

    I came across this thread while doing a little research on an old trophy I picked up at a Flea Market this weekend. It's Bakelite and brass, 15" tall. Kind of crusty. The brass plate reads "Best Engineered I.T.A. Chester, SC Nov. 29 1957.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Jim
     
  25. Frank : That second part of the entry list shook some old names out of the brain-attic!!!
    Jim Barbee...Jimmy Thompson and his Olds,... Jimmy & Parks Quinn from Gastonia,... Rudy Sherrill..Robert Freeland..( Wasn't he in a wheelchair??)...Can't wait to see more of the list..
    Anything in the works for some type of Chester Dragstrip reunion ,etc...??? Wishful thinking ,I guess..
    Thanks again Frank...
    Stan
     
  26. uvebenfaulked
    Joined: Jun 10, 2012
    Posts: 17

    uvebenfaulked
    Member

    Does anyone on this thread remember a midnight blue '40 Deluxe Coupe that raced at Shuffle Town and Chester? It would have had Yosemite Sam painted on the trunk and "The Bandit" as well. That was my dad - his big nemesis was a '34 Ford called "Thumper" but I don't remember who drove it.

    Just curious.
     
  27. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Jim,

    I believe you are going to like what I found. November 29th 1957 was a Friday, the day I believe the special awards were given out at the First Annual International Drag Races at Chester. The car that won Best Engineered received the trophy you have. If I come across the results of that race hopefully I can determine who and what kind of car was the original owner of your trophy.
     

    Attached Files:

  28. ffr1222k
    Joined: Nov 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,162

    ffr1222k
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Frank

    I just read this post. I knew Horace because I lived in Harrisburg for 20 years, and attended Harrisburg School. Horace and his '56 were a legend.

    Van Hatley's 55 always ran at the Concord Dragstrip on Saturday nights. The car was always immaculate and I don't recall him ever losing.

    Thanks for the memories.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2013
  29. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    Frank, my dad, John Vaughn , said he use to sell you NOS parts, station wagon stuff , at the flea markets, I think you guys might be the same age, he might be a little older. He also talked about a black 54 Chevy , 6 cylinder, that did pretty good back then.I heard a bunch of stories growing up about these dragstrips!:D
     
  30. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Yes, I have known you dad forever. He is known for coming up with rare NOS parts. Small world.
     

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