The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Royalshifter, Dec 12, 2007.
I can only imagine what that was like to live back then and be 16 or so. MAN, that would be so cool!
Yes, yes it was
Do you think the plates on the frame are for stiffing or aro
Sure was, wasn't it Doug!
Pretty sure that SBC car in foreground is Bob Pavioni driving Lyle Dill "Go Go Kart" car from ABQ.
You Guys were truly blessed to be there at the "Pinnacle" of Drag Racing History. (IMHO)
I am only 57 but the late 60's for Top Fuel, and the innovation allowed in most catagories make it the time period that I would most like to be able to have been at. Thanks again to all the great contributors to this thread that keep it keepin on!
This is the car that followed the "Blown Hearse" from D&E Automotive
I am forever grateful for the memories and the experiences.....you could build a competitive race car for less than $1000, and you could do the work yourself with even limited mechanical skills....and there were guys with more experience who could help you....for me, Hippo Brammer, Jim Ward, John Bradley, Les Hawkins, and so many others to learn from.....6-8 drag strips in Southern California alone, you could choose where to run....we also got to watch the era slowly die, more expensive parts, drag strips closed because of land values or noise complaints (or both).....too many fatalities that led to rules that led to more cost (clutch blast shields had to be hydroformed, which WAS A GOOD THING, but it priced many of us out of drag racing).............but no complaints, we got to live it in the day!
Bob Sullivan's 'Cuda at Fontana
Sullivan started to do exhibition runs just after Jack Chrisman ran his Sach & Sons Comet fuel Comet.
Sometimes he'd "match race" it but many times it just made passes for the crowd.
I took this photo when I was about 14 or 15.
Notice that Bob was wearing his t-shirt, no goggles while running nitro. Probably no gloves either.
Just like he's going for groceries! FAST trip to the market!
Fontana was a crazy place back in the mid-60's.
Wind, Cold, Hot, and the strip was lit with lights that ran off of DC generators, the same searchlight generators that were used for movie premiers and new car dealerships. The only difference was the 10K lights were mounted on wood utility poles.
On Route 66 in Fontana (Foothill Blvd.) just east of Etiwanda Ave.
Now it's all a housing subdivision and the only thing left are the long line of high tension lines that run south from the San Gabriel Mountains. Only us old veterans could find the spot today.
It's as if it just disappeared.
On cold nights we'd all stand next to the generators between rounds. I probably stood next to Dean many times and just didn't know him until 40 years later.
The bleachers were full of splinters and the food was as basic as i could get.
That, my friends, is how a drag strip SHOULD be.
No fancy-ass food, no "suites" and standard wooden port-a-potties.
It kept away the posers and the only people that would venture out there were folks that went for the RACES. Period.
Nothing more....nothing less.
Just nitro and the darkness of an undeveloped area as far as the eye could see.
In the distance was the ghostly silhouette of the Kaiser Steel Plant.
Everything today is so sanitized and it all is just too civilized for my tastes.
If you missed it, you'll never understand.
It was "The Wild West" and times were good.
I haven't ventured south for the Winternats for some time, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't have big screen tv's in the concession area so you don't miss the action while getting your big $$$ beer.
Fontana had a personality all it's own. Hard core racing, really scary at times and much better than Disneyland. We all loved the place.
I was a coupla years too young to be driving yet, so I was dependent on my dad to get me there, so I only went a few times.
Yea, out there in the "sticks". The first time was with the guy my dad sold his bright red 62, 409 to. That car slowly made the transition from street car to street/race to race only. It was the street/race version that was my first trip to Fontana.
The main memory I took from that trip...was seeing Willie and gang in his red roadster, both with and without the big wing in the same night, (as mentioned in an earlier note).
Has anyone got more details of this car please ?
A side view photo or other photos ?
What chassis is it ?
I got to see the Greeks Twin run at Union Grove - first race the 1959 Cordova World Series - thinking that makes my age just about right.
Between Fontana and San Gabe you had to be dedicated to drags and just nuts but we loved it all. Minimal, if any, lighting on pit side, rocks the size of your rail down there also. The memories just keep rolling here
Walt Merkert, from Massachusetts, Desoto powered. Won his class at the US Nationals in '59 and '60, also held the Drag News 1320 record for C/gas dragsters., later went circle track racing, and was a well known engine builder in the region. Like most cars of that era, Walt built his own chassis.
Sorry to be extremely late on this one. That's Roy Cipray in the Blue Mist car from Tampa, FL. A Top Gas car with a small block Chevy in it (Roy changed to a big block in the late 1960's), should date that picture as 1966-1968. Roy was a good racer, but as far as checking his cell phone back then, I really don't believe that he was that far ahead of his time. Regards, Chase
Here is another picture of Walt's car, which I posted on this site around a year ago: the original is from George Klass:
Separate names with a comma.