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Folks Of Interest When did you first go to the drags, who do you remember from "the day"??

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Gary Reynolds, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. I've only gone as a spectator once in my life some where around 1995 and I was already past 50 by that time. So OT date and OT driver/cars I can't seem to remember.

    My first trip to a drag strip was when a couple of guys that I worked with invited me to go with them. They had scraped together enough of their spare change to buy a clapped out, striped Henry J with a Mopar 413cid. It was just a chassis and a shell and not much else. It was not tuned or sorted out by any measure but it was sort of fast because it was so light. They let me take a turn behind the wheel and I was all over my lane like squirrel leaving a cold trail. The next time at the line, the track crew gave it the fish eye and an additional, complimentary inspection. :p

    A couple years later I was my own owner/driver/mechanic. That was the mid '60s and I have vivid memories of being a weekend warrior myself . For 3 years almost every weekend during the season I could be found at one of 3 drag strips within a 100 miles of me.
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  2. mark schanfeldt
    Joined: Jun 28, 2007
    Posts: 204

    mark schanfeldt

    Spring 1958 at Cordova Il. Local favorite was Arnie Beswick, wasn't long he was
    nationally known. He and his '58 Pontiac put lots of folks on the trailer. I never
    heard an engine like that and shifts were flawless. I've been hooked since then.
    els and rhtfo like this.
  3. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 4,094


    No drag strips where I grew in the U.P. of Michigan , but we lived on the end of a 5 mile stretch of road
    and on the weekends all the guys waiting until the state cops made their daily ride to the end of the county and then it was on.
    My first trip an real drag strip was in 67 when I moved to Miami ,Florida and went to Miami-Hollywood with my older brother how had a B/SP 66 427 Corvette.
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  4. rooman
    Joined: Sep 20, 2006
    Posts: 4,052


    Brooksfield Dragway, Two Wells. South Australia in 1965. Went to the very first race there. Two lanes of tar seal, 1/8 mile. Prior to that I had my dad take me to the "sprints" (single lane timed action) but by then I had my driver's licence and was at every race at that track until it closed in 1969. Raced my Triumph Herald in stock eliminator in 1966 and by 1967 was crewing on the first of a series of dragsters.

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  5. My first time at the drags was the 1963 US Nationals at Indy. The car I remember most was the "Flintstone Flyer" Packard. It just blew me away seeing this big fat tub racing down the strip. I now see it every year at the Thompson Gasser Reunion and think about when I first saw it at eighteen years old.
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  6. 296ardun
    Joined: Feb 11, 2009
    Posts: 4,264


    Santa Ana, summer of 1957, first car I saw was Willie Borsch driving the Harrell Engines '29 roadster, Gene Adams was there with his '50 Olds gasser, as were the Sandoval Brothers in their radically chopped Bantam competition coupe. I was hooked for life:


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  7. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,141


    56 or 57 our local dragstrip brought cars from Omaha. I remember Howdy Williams in a 50 Olds with headers collected in round Zerex cans, yes it was loud. My avatar photo with my 33 Chevy was taken that year and I was 13.
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  8. My first time was at union grove my home town track for a labor day show. My brother won some tickets from the local radio station wrkr. This was about 1979. All the crazyness you would expect was going on in a way only broadway bob could deliver. I can still hear the radio ads on the cars am radio. Jets; pro stocks; wheelstanders; funny cars. Benny the bomb along with the kite cycle. My dad told me once that he was going to take me out there a few years before that on a big weekend. The day he was going to take me he read the morning paper. On the front page was the story about a dragster that had a clutch explosion killing a few spectators. He said it wasnt a good idea to go out there. Too dangerous. It would be a few years before i got to go. Unfortunately i missed some great early- mid 70s action. I had to wait until i was 18 to race my 66 chevelle. That was 1984. I still have and race the 66. Still going to the grove. With bob gone its just not the same.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  9. Remember it like it was yesterday, Easter Sunday, 1959. Dad took me to old San Gabe. We drove my then old beater '29 RPU. The two stand out cars for me were Jim Nelson in the Dragmaster, and Tommy Ivo in his single engine injected Buick. Jim had Tom covered on ET, but at the flag Tom jumped out to a two car lead. They stayed that way until Tom shifted the LaSalle two speed into high. Jim caught him, but it was too late. Tom won by a wheel. I was hooked. I said "dad, I want to do that". Two years later, I was doing that.

    My first drag race.png
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  10. sweetdick2
    Joined: Jul 15, 2011
    Posts: 170

    from new jersey

    My father worked construction with this guy who use to drag race a corvette, he was telling him about this guy who raced"dragsters" and would smoke the tires the entire length of the 1/4 mile.My father thought this would be something I might enjoy as I was sort of a little motor head, so he took me one Sunday to Island Dragway to see a guy called "Big Daddy" that was the day Big Daddy broke 200 mph.. the rest is history, I was hooked forever.. Still am Damn it!!
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  11. HarryT
    Joined: Nov 7, 2006
    Posts: 557


    One of the first was the 1955 World Series of Drag Racing in Lawrenceville Il. Went with my older brother Bob and I remember seeing Arfon's Green Monster and the Bustle Bomb.
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  12. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,008


    Cousins took me to Madera drags in 1958. Started running there in summer of 59 with my 57 Pontiac. Ran there til 65 with various cars and did pretty well--also ran Raisin City. Saw all the big names-SWC, Grist Bros/Reath Willys, Garlits and all the Super Stockers of the time. Great times!!! Earlier it was hardtop races at Madera speedway (about 1951-53) Blackie from Fresno (yes that Blackie) was the one to beat.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2017
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  13. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,259


    First went to NY's Westhampton Raceway in 1960 and was hooked. Attached is a picture of the 36 Ford drag car we built as teenagers in my Grandpa's garage. It was originally flathead powered and later swapped out for a 327 SBC. I will never forget my Grandpa saying "you kids are crazy, you spend hundreds of dollars to win a 59 cent trophy". I'm the skinny guy in the middle.
    Gary IMG_0928.JPG
  14. Mark Jenny
    Joined: Oct 23, 2014
    Posts: 821

    Mark Jenny

    Irwindale Drag Strip..1965ish..Stone Woods n Cook...Don Montgomery...loved the gasser wars....also remember the Lil Red Wagon!!
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  15. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,726


    My first trip to the Drags was a bummer, New Years Day...musta been around 1979 or so, to Fremont, we got over the Altamont and it started to drizzle, track was wet when we got there, and Drags cancelled.

    Think it was called The Nitro Bowl?
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  16. Boss 302 Mustang
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 42

    Boss 302 Mustang
    from Duxbury MA

    I think it was dad took me to Island Dragway in Great Meadows NJ....Don Garlits vs the Frantic 4 ....Garlits' chute failed on I think the second round of their match race and he drove of the end of the strip, mangling the chassis on a car he had just sold.
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  17. First time for me was the spring of '67... three of us took off from Blaine in a buddy's '53 Merc, heading for the drags at Arlington Wa. Couldn't find the airport at Arlington (hey, we were dumb-ass teenagers) but the other guys in the car kind of knew where SIR was down in Kent... so down the freeway we headed. I can't remember who was racing that day, but we had a great time and never told our parents we had wandered so far from home. Still remember seeing the Kalakala tied up in the Montlake cut as we went over the bridge... damn, that was 50 years ago.
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  18. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 4,110

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    I was taken to the races as a kid in 48 an many times after,but it was not drags,but oval dirt track, then some blacktop,,,love it. And the sportscar racing also. Not tell the mid 50s did I see any officil drags.just some street outlaw stuff before that. Later our car club did things at the NHRA drags Master's Feild n Ameila Airhart Feild,got to hand off time slips too Don Garlits,both there an Sabastion strip up the cost from Miami.
    I did do a little drag racing along with my oval tracken n sports car stuff. I stopped doing drags,there was not enough driving time for the work I did to make winning cars=drags was too EZ an not as much fun for me. 14sec. 1/4 mile run dosen't hold a candel too driving a 30 lap main,trill wise for me! I won nearly every drag I was in,matched the F-Stock over all record with my Studebaker Lark Daytona GT supercharged{was my last drag car I built. I did help out on a few frenids drag cars after,but won more oval races then I can keep count of.
    postcard made by Ronnie.jpg
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  19. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,170

    dan c

    mine was at mid-america raceway in wentzville, mo. Scan0038.jpg i think this was in'63. the arfons jet dragster did about 250, and i threw in a show pic of wayne arteaga's willys coupe that appeared in the area a lot.
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  20. 50bowtie
    Joined: Nov 24, 2013
    Posts: 4


    SIR in Seattle, or Kent, WA to be precise. Circa 1978, 64 Funny cars! Awesome!

    Sent from my iPad using H.A.M.B.
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  21. Chrome Moly Steel
    Joined: Aug 21, 2015
    Posts: 49

    Chrome Moly Steel
    from Miami, fl

    First drag race I went to was when I was 12 years old at Amelia Earhart Field in Miami early 1965. Seems they were just running street legal cars at that time ( Dana maybe you can verify this ). The car I remember most was one of the spectator cars parked along the edge of the strip,it was about a 1960 English Ford with a big block Ford engine all the way through the firewall and driven from the back seat. Went there several times until racing started at Miami-Hollywood Speedway and always made it to the big events and raced after I got my drivers license. Also went to the stock car races at Hialeah, old Hollywood and Florida City. Also would get my Dad to take me around to different speed shops, garages or gas stations, anywhere I could look at race cars.
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  22. jim815
    Joined: Dec 20, 2007
    Posts: 17

    from Dallas, TX

    Green Valley Raceway 1961. My Dad was friends with Bill McClure, he invited us out to his house which was at the top of the hill just southwest of the track by the barn. We would enter the track from the house many times, Bill didn't think it was necessary for us to pay toget!
    Later that year my older sister, Judy, was Miss Green Valley, also she was Miss Rod and Custom from the Rod and Custom Auto Show at Will Rogers Collisium.
    Dad took my younger brother, Joe, and me many times to The Valley after that initial visit.
    I remember the Avanti was shown there at the track before it was for sale to the general public.
    A few years later bought my first car, a 55 Chevy and started racing at The Valley, won my first race there in 1965 the rest is history...still have some of my trophies from there. They gave you a choice of $15.00, a fender cover or the trophy for the class win.
    (2DHR) Formula 2 D Hot Rod.

    Sent from my SM-T217S using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
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  23. I remember going to "Rockford Dragway" as it was called back then, in 1963. I was only in third grade and my Dad and 2 uncles went in to look at the new construction. Now it's know as "Byron Dragway". It didn't open until 1964 and was 4 wide and flag start.

    They got into drag racing in the early 60's and raced at Lake Geneva, Union Grove, and Oswego. My Dad's brother had a '60 Ponch Bonnie, 389 Tri-Power, automatic and cheater slicks and shared driving. My other uncle had a '62 409.

    The one that impressed me though, was a a local guy named Larry Paye (who worked with Dad at the machine shop), he had a little injected 327 in a Candy Apple Red, front engined dragster and I got to ride in the push truck! WOW!

    Others were, "GO-GO Goat" GTO - a street car, Arnie "the Farmer" Beswick, Art Arfons' "Green Monster", "Little Screamer" '34Ford, TV Tommy Ivo and the 4 engine car. Those were the days! :) They made a pretty big impression on a little kid like me.

    Oh, Yeah! E.J. Potter - The Mad Man from Michigan on a 327 powered bike.
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  24. bondolero
    Joined: Dec 10, 2008
    Posts: 558


    1962, Hobbs NM, Dick Harrell 409.
    My neighbor, Glenn Powell, raced his AHRA Winternationals Champ 406 Marauder against him on weekends in Hobbs and later worked for Harrell up until the weeks before he was killed in his funny car. He later worked for Yenko and now drives a Nostalgia dragster.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
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  25. 1963 Winter Nationals for me. A buddy and me drove straight through from Eugene, Or. in my '52 Ford. We stood down at the end for awhile and watched them come at us.
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  26. vetteguy402
    Joined: Oct 27, 2009
    Posts: 146

    from omaha, ne

    I was born in the wrong era. Cars that I've idolized since I was a kid. Relegated to seeing them in videos.

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  27. Poh
    Joined: Apr 17, 2007
    Posts: 266

    from Quincy,Ca.

    Atmore Alabama, 1982, dunno if I seen anyone famous, but ever since my Aunt and her boyfriend took me there , at 12 years old I was hooked.. yup, I'm just a pup.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
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  28. pnevells
    Joined: Sep 5, 2008
    Posts: 434


    I was very fortunate and grew up next to a drag strip, Vargo Dragway in Perkasie PA. I used to sneak in as a kid from age 11 or 12, saw Garlits, Kalitta , Bill Jenkins , KS Pittman, Bruce Larson and many others . They closed the track the year I turned 16 and never had a chance to run there, but the hook was set and I have been a drag racer ever since
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  29. rooman
    Joined: Sep 20, 2006
    Posts: 4,052


    That English Ford with the big block was most likely funny car legend Paul Smith's street/race car. He went on the much faster things in later years.

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  30. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 5,060


    Hey Nomo,
    63 Winternationals? I just picked up this photograph a couple of weeks ago at the Lions Dragstrip Museum. Mike Cook, the son of Doug Cook, was in the booth with the Stone, Woods, & Cook, Swindler 2. It was the centerpiece of the museum display. We exchanged photos, ideas and information. It was fun talking to him. The display was pretty cool.

    The original nose of the Willys coupe was there as a reminder of the changes to this race car.
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