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on Dean LaPole's passing

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by GASSERGUY, Jul 27, 2005.

    Joined: Oct 23, 2004
    Posts: 165


    Out of the loop here in Tucson.

    Just heard that "Dean LaPole, 70, of Rancho Santa Margarita, owner of LaPole Headers, died June 9, 2005, of lung cancer."

    When I knew him, Dean was the driver of the early 70's King Camaro 16-spark plug-BBChevy-powered funny car....the loudest funny car....ever.

    As Keith Black said when he heard it fire up far down the pits at Orange County, "What the hell is that!" Keith instantly stopped talking and started running towards the sound of cannons firing. [Dan had 1" or so alum. plates between the block and head to accomodate the extra plug, which resulted in a humongeous combustion chamber and a booming sound unlike any other in drag racing.]

    Dean was a nice guy. I have good memories of him and his partner and the car's engine builder/wrench--Dan Geare, a genius if there ever was one. I was the then-young guy working at Valley Speed Center in Phoenix who named the car and got them the first motel sponsorship in drag racing (Best Western). Free rooms and they still stole the towels, Ha!

    Geare is still at it. He's wrenching John Powers' nostalgia funnies.

    Dean, you're missed.


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    Joined: Apr 17, 2001
    Posts: 6,177


    The Chevy-powered King Camaro of Dan Geare, Dean LaPole, and Fred Totten was rumored to be the loudest funny car of the era. Mike Burkhart use to tell the story about being at the Mfg.'s meet at Orange County, I think 1970. Different cars were in the process of warming up.

    At one point the "Big John Mazmanian" car and Don Schumacher's "Stardust" Cuda both started their motors at about the same time. Both cars, being high dollar, late model stroker engines from KB or Pink, were very loud, especially when both were running. A minute later the King Camaro started on the next row over. It was so loud you couldn't hear the other two!

    Photo by Bob Plumer

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  3. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,250


    Sorry to hear of your friends passing.
    Sounds like he was quite a guy...
    Joined: Oct 23, 2004
    Posts: 165


    Hi Bob,

    I was there at OCIR that day in 1970. Anyone who didn't hear the car fire can't appreciate just how loud it really was. Literally sounded like 8 cannons firing instead of 8 cylinders. I asked Dan at Pomona last year if he still had the 16 spark plug setup. Sadly, he said he'd sold it.

    Just received a couple of emails from Fred. Told me more about Dean's illness and sent me photos of the Totten/LaPole '63. Geare is still hanging in there. Hope to see him at the CHRR in Oct.

    I miss the days of 64 car funny car shows! Must be getting nostalgic in my old age.


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