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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

    That is a name I haven't seen mentioned is ages. The Thumper was a '35 or '36 CHEVY coupe gasser owned and raced in the late fifties and early sixties by Dan Allison of Charlotte. It was almost unbeatable in its class. It had a 283 Chevy engine that was actually 368 cubic inches according to a conversation I had with Dan after he quit racing it in about 1963. 368 cubic inches was huge for a small block Chevy engine 50 years ago. Some guy in Columbia S.C. provided the stroker crank and other parts for the engine build.

    Joe McCullough had the same guy build a 352 cubic inch 283 for his '57 Chevy Bel Air hardtop he drove on the street. It was another badass car on the streets of Charlotte in the early to mid sixties.
     
  2. uvebenfaulked
    Joined: Jun 10, 2012
    Posts: 17

    uvebenfaulked
    Member

    Thanks for replying - Pop said Thumper was so fast that sometimes the deck lid would fly open... I wasn't there of course but he said Thumper was really fast. Pop raced mostly in B-gas Supercharged but must have gone up against that car before installing the supercharger. Thanks again - you can't imagine how cool it is to read this post after hearing about this stuff as a kid.
     
  3. ffr1222k
    Joined: Nov 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,162

    ffr1222k
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Didn't he race at Concord too? It seems like I remeber it, and it would have had to have been Concord because that was the only strip I could walk to.
     
  4. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    He was at the first drag race I entered at Starlight Drag Strip in Monroe N.C. in 1961. I was still in high school. I also saw him run it at Shuffletown and Concord. He was tough to beat and retired that way. I don't know who he sold it to or if it stayed in the Carolinas but I don't remember it being a dominate gasser after he retired. Dan Allison was a mechanic at Don Allen Chevrolet in Charlotte if my memory is correct.

    I remember the little rabbit figure with the "Thumper" name. I don't know if that name came before or after he starting "thumping" his rivals.
     
  5. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Entries.jpg The first Chester Drag Strip Nationals was truly a National event. These are names I am familiar with:

    1) Walt and Art Arfons from Akron, Ohio--Allison powered dragsters
    2) Serop Postoian from Detroit--Chrysler Hemi powered dragster-- helped Don Garlits with his tune-up in his early days.
    3) Joe Bush from Tucson, AZ--the "Speed Sport Roadster"--A Chrysler Hemi powered rear engine roadster that was competitive in AA/FD and sounded like no other with it's 8 long loud pipes spitting nitro.
    4) Dick Behling from Charlotte--long time performance garage owner and racer.
    5) Bill Garland--originally from Chester but would run Concord Drag Strip from it's beginning to the end I believe...maybe not the last years ...but all the years I raced there.
    6) Allen Weddle from Burlington N.C.--built one of North Carolina's first slingshot dragsters
    7) Joe "Hosea"Wilson from Lenoir N.C.--drove Super Stock 409s.

    Any other names familiar to you.

    One name absent from the entire list is Ronnie Sox. I presume 1957 was before he got serious about drag racing
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  6. re post #68, sprint car #5.
    owner was Bud Sherk from Lebanon, Pa. driver in this pic could be al keller.
    prev. had driver by name of harry king. car was driven in Midwest & East.
    Sherk sold cars in Leb. & later moved to Fla.
    mlight9
     
  7. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Entries.jpg Entries2.jpg Entries3.jpg Entries4.jpg entries5.jpg entries6.jpg Here is the entire entry list of the 1957 Chester Drag Strip International Drag Races. You will see several names listed multiple times indicating they were entering multiple cars or multiple classes with the same car.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  8. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Entries3.jpg This entry list has a special twist for me. Some of you know I had a 20 plus year career drag racing motorcycles. It all started in 1963 with a '57 Triumph I bought. It was highly modified by Bobby England, it's original owner. That was 51 years ago when I started racing it and until this entry list I had never seen anything to connect it to Bobby.

    There was at least one class for motorcycles at the 1957 International Drag Races at Chester and Bobby England entered his and eventually my Triumph. And it appears he entered it in two classes.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  9. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    Just 2 months ago I posted information about Horace Hart and his legendary 409-425 powered '56 Chevy that ruled the streets of Charlotte in the mid '60s and some of you who knew or knew of him posted too.

    I just got word from one of his relatives he passed away a few days ago. This is sad news for me.
     
  10. uvebenfaulked
    Joined: Jun 10, 2012
    Posts: 17

    uvebenfaulked
    Member

    My sincere apologies. Even if you don't see a friend for years, it sure makes a difference when you find out they are no longer with us.
     
  11. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Jimmy Kaperonis.jpg I accidentally found out more information about Jimmy Kaperonis' mystery sports car and it was really rewarding. I was looking at some classic car belonging to Jim Nesbit of Clover S.C. During our conversation he mentioned buying a new Corvette in 1956 with the twin fours. But with only 1000 miles on it his wife totaled it. He settled with his insurance company and retained the wrecked Corvette. He was friends with Jimmy Kaperonis and sold him the car. Jim Nesbit said Kaperonis hired Bud Mustin and Bud's son Joe to build a complete new one-off body made out of aluminum. If you have followed the Bob Osiecki and Mad Dog IV thread you may remember the Mustins did a lot of work on MDIV.

    This is the only photo that has surfaced of the custom sports car they built for Kaperonis. It was taken at Chester Drag Strip in 1957.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  12. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Points.jpg This was the top 16 in the points standings in the International Timing Association prior to the 1st International Drag Races at Chester Drag Strip in 1957. There are many names I recognize. There were over 1600 drivers in the I.T.A.

    I believe this was the only drag racing organization other tha NHRA. If I am wrong please correct me.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  13. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Dick Behling.jpg Dick Behling,.jpg Dick Behling is a well known former Charlotte race car builder and NASCAR team owner. He teamed up with Country Music legend Marty Robbins for the '68 National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Robbins started 32nd in Behling's '67 Dodge and finished 12th.

    Here are photos of Dick at Chester in the '50. He is driving the white Pontiac powered T-coupe. Photos courtesy of Burwell Kendrick
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  14. JT Apperson
    Joined: Jul 12, 2010
    Posts: 215

    JT Apperson
    Member
    from va

    Hi Frank...Enjoyed the history on Chester Drag Strip. I have a book called Lost Drag Strips. Very interesting covers the entire USA. Like many in our area Old Dominion and Aquasco, their closed. I understand that 75-80 is finally closed. I don't know that to be a fact. Those were some great times.

    Do you ever hear anything about Buddy Martin? I saw Mouise Brown 4 times last year. No one here in Va. knew his whereabouts until I told them. The mouser is alive and well. Give me an update on your book would love to read it. Thanks for keeping us old guy's posted...JT
     
  15. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
    Member

    I have "Lost Drag Strips" too. Chester was not one of the tracks in it probably because the author didn't know about it since it closed in 1960.

    I talk to Buddy Martin occasionally when I see him at shows. He was at the Barrett-Jackson Auction recently. He has given me some great information for my book. I am thankful I did an interview with Ronnie before he passed. I will be finished with it for the 50th anniversary of that amazing drag race in 2015.
     
  16. Frank : On that ITA top 16 standing list ,in first place was Robert Freeland... Wasn't he in a wheel chair ?? Seems I remember him & his Olds at Shuffletown also..
     
  17. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Yes Stan, he lost the use of his legs when he was accidentally shot in the spine at age 23. After 2 years of recovery he equipped his '54 Olds with hand controls so he could continue driving. And then Chester Drag Strip opened. In 1957 Robert went on a winning spree and won D-Stock 7 weeks in a row and also the season ending BIG trophy for points champ. That has to be one of the most inspirational stories in drag racing.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  18. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
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  19. Frank : You Da Man!!!!!!!!
    I'm votin you for the Hot Rod Historian of the year...
     
  20. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Bob Freeland.jpg Thanks Stan. Here is a better photo of his Olds. Check out the exhaust dump cutout at the bottom of the front fender. Looks like he had painted it a dark color by the time he had won his 88th trophy.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  21. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Vaughns.jpg For over 50 years Vaughn's Auto Upholstery of Greer S.C. has been one of the best known antique car interior restoration shops in the Carolinas. They specialize in '20s-'40s Fords but are known as the place to call for any need because of the large inventory of NOS material they stock. I was going to get an update from them but when I looked for their website nothing is listed and their phone # has been disconnected. I am really saddened to see another long time restoration shop closed. Anyone know about the closing?

    Here is a photo of their Chevy powered Deuce grilled Model-A roadster taken in 1957 at Chester. That car was a real sleeper to be Chevy V-8 powered only 2 years after the 265 cubic inch small block was introduced.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  22. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    My dad took everything to Vaughn's. I sat in the waiting room one time and they did the bottom seat on the front seat of a 57 Chevy we had, still had the material for it. Before reproduction days. They were the best around. I had been wondering if they were still in business.
     
  23. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Garlits Chester '57.jpg It is well known Don Garlits nearly lost his life in a blower explosion at Chester Drag Strip in 1959. When the track opened in 1957 Don was competing in this dragster with 8 Stromberg carbs. (Burwell Kendrick photo)
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  24. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Smoker.jpg This is what most fans came to Chester to see when it opened in 1957. It was probably the first time they had seen a race car with that much horsepower.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  25. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Kendrick Chester.jpg Here is another photo that surfaced of the Chrysler powered '34 Ford that started this thread. The car was street legal at that time in about 1957.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  26. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Speed Sport Chester.jpg Speed Sport Rdster.jpg Joe Bush towed the Chrysler powered "Speed Sport Roadster" all the way from Tuson, Arizona to race at Chester. If you are not familiar with this car it was one of the fastest dragsters in the '50s...and one of the loudest with 8 straight pipes spewing supercharged nitro out the back of the car. (Burwell Kendrick photos.)
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  27. edweird
    Joined: Jan 4, 2009
    Posts: 3,187

    edweird
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    one more pic
     

    Attached Files:

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

    frank spittle
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    ,Behling, Dick.jpg Here is a close-up of Dick Behling's T-coupe. The Jeep wagon beside it belonged to "Doodle" Kendrick who also owned the Chrysler powered '34 Ford coupe I bought from him in 1962. The Jeep was powered by a Studebaker V-8 and raced at Chester. This photo was taken in the late '50s.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  29. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle
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    Windmill.jpg This is the Arfons brothers "Baloney Slicer" Ranger V-12 powered prop driven dragster. I did research on this car, which was built in about 1956, and there has been much debate as to whether it was also wheel driven but none of the pictures on the internet shows a close-up of the rear of the car and that has helped keep the debate alive. This picture shows what I believe is a trans-axle type rearend so the car could have been wheel driven too.

    It is believed this was the Arfons dragster that was destroyed at Chester, the only serious crash in the 4 years the track was open. Arfons was not injured.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  30. jroberts
    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,638

    jroberts
    Member

    I just bumped into this thread for the first time today and boy am I glad I did. I am not familiar with the names and places, but the history the thread brings back to life is incredible. I remember sneaking into the old drag strip on U.S. 301 in Fayetteville, NC when I was a kid. Those were the days. Thanks.
     

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