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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. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 11,624

    Atwater Mike

    First time was at age 12, 1954. 'Little Bonneville', out on King Road, San Jose, CA. (an old airport, with SHORT shutoff space)
    I knew all the members of the Igniters, and their 'club within a club', the famous 'Hernando's Racing Team'.
    Wide-eyed in the pits, saw all kinds of stuff:
    LeBlanc Engineering had a chopped '34 Coupe, Olds engine with 4 carbs...working 'bugs' out, ran it at 80+ MPH, lots of backfiring. (I suspected valves open, just from hanging out at Les Joseph's Garage...kept my eyes and ears open!) Later ran to 120 MPH+, as I recall...months later.) Back on the trailer...
    Johnny Perreira, a real character...'32 sedan, stock bodied, faded green/black fenders, and a BIG 4 banger...
    First time I rode in it, I asked something about the 'Merc' under the hood...Johnny said, "It's a 4 cylinder, Michael. Really 'suped'-up, bored, big valves, Crager," Some other terms, but I didn't believe him. He pulled over and lifted the hood...I was very 12 year old 'surprised'...That was prior to my first trip to the drags.
    That day, Johnny beat out every flathead he raced. Some were faster than he was, (speed) but he always got there first. I would learn about Elapsed Time later..o_O
    Fast cars were:
    The 'Hangover' a chopped, channeled and long-nosed '31 Austin Bantom coupe, with a 'giant' 304" flathead, running on Alky. Owners/Hernando's Racing Team members Al & Louie Soto broke a record, grasped the title briefly of 'World's Fastest Coupe! Ran 138 MPH that day... I would get to 'know' that car intimately...
    Thanks to the 'guidance' of

    Switch's '32 sedan, a full fendered yellow chopped 5" and gutted, Chrysler Hemi, LaSalle box, 2nd & high gears.
    Nasty Deuce, I remember 112 MPH...Switch said it was 'surging' at top end, had serious trouble stopping in short end, had back brakes only!
    Later on, at a club meeting, someone suggested a 'parachute', (we all laughed, as we'd seen Stroker McGurk fit one in the HRM Medley comic strip!) Can't remember when, but later on Switch was the first local to actually use a 'chute! He said it was a 'surplus Cargo Chute'.
    'The Bread Truck', a gutted & chopped orange '32 panel, entered under the VIC HUBBARD Speed shop ran over 120 MPH!
    As I mentioned, this was '54, and our little strip was mostly 'locals', and the faaaast L.A. boys hadn't come up North yet, but they would... This was previous to the opening of FREMONT, (later 'Baylands')
    els, jnaki, Pufff and 1 other person like this.
  2. unklgriz
    Joined: Sep 12, 2005
    Posts: 291


    Early '70's, Seattle International Raceway, 64 Funny Cars! What a blast! Got completely hooked and have loved the drags ever since.
    els and Gary Reynolds like this.
  3. deucendude
    Joined: Oct 31, 2008
    Posts: 680

    from norcal

    I don't remember the first time. I do remember quite clearly when I rode my bicycle to the Pomona drags. We lived 6 blocks away in La Verne Ca. It was in 1956 and my cousin had his new 56 ford there to see what it would do. I was quite impressed as a 13 year old. I actually knew somebody that had a car at the drag strip! I was hooked on cars for life from that day on. Jim
    els and Gary Reynolds like this.
  4. jcmarz
    Joined: Jan 10, 2010
    Posts: 4,631

    from Chino, Ca

    1977, OCIR. I was 14 and I never forget this: I had to use the restroom and the area was jam packed with people. So, I had to work my way through the crowd and when I reach the restrooms, the line for the women's restroom was a mile long and alot of the girls were dancing around, because they had to pee so bad.. The Men's room was no problem and I walked right in. Well., while I'm in there, girls just start to walk into the Men's room and most of the stalls were open. So, the girls are using the Men's stalls, and the guys start climbing up the stalls, or looking under the stalls. and everyone was just joking around, laughing. And it was really trip for me, because I was only 14 years old at the time, and overall it was a great time.
    czuch, els and Gary Reynolds like this.
  5. Islip Speedway had drags for years, I caught it towards the end, possibly in 1971. The strip was an 1/8 mile and ran through the pits and behind the main grandstand. Talk about insane... I recall nothing but a snow fence between the cars and the fans and the place was PACKED.

    Later on when I had a street car to drive I'd go out to National Speedway with my girlfriend. One night in 1976 I think it was a funny car shoot out, $4 to get in and another $2 for pit passes.
    els, Gman0046 and vetteguy402 like this.
  6. PA Flash
    Joined: Jun 29, 2016
    Posts: 11

    PA Flash

    My cousin was married to a professional racer by the name of Dave Strickler. In 1965 he was racing an altered wheelbase Dodge. I was 14 and got to go to a race at York US 30 with him. He broke a 4 speed trans. during time trials. They changed transmissions and he said get in there I'm going to try out this new trans. I sat in the back where the seat would have been and hung on the roll bar. We went down near the airplane hangers and he jumped on it and started rowing through gears, all I could see was sky.
    From then on all I wanted to do was Drag Race. I got to do it later in life.
    pmdguy, els, dwollam and 3 others like this.
  7. Retro Jim
    Joined: May 27, 2007
    Posts: 3,854

    Retro Jim

    My first was early 60's when I was 7 or 8 . Can't remember the track name but was living in NJ at that time . Fell in love with the FED then and they are still my favorite !

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    els likes this.
  8. Retro Jim
    Joined: May 27, 2007
    Posts: 3,854

    Retro Jim

    Roland was always one of my favorites !

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    els likes this.
  9. Kan Kustom
    Joined: Jul 20, 2009
    Posts: 2,741

    Kan Kustom

    I am kinda amazed that I don't remember anything about my first time. I have loved drag racing since my first Hotrod magazines when I was a little kid but at some time right after I got my first car I worked it over and went to Wichita drags. It's weird I don't remember the first time. I only remember the details of the times I won and remember it always being a blast every time I was there , win or not.
    els likes this.
  10. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 6,871

    from Berry, AL

    1976, Columbus Ms, 1/8th mile track. Went with a school buddy who's brother in law was running a 66 Mustang, got to stand on the line and help him burnout and line up. I was 17, and hooked! Didn't make it to a national event until after I was married, around 1980 or 81 wife and I went to Memphis TN for a NHRA race, drove up on Sunday morning, had to leave about 6 PM because I had to work the next day. That was the first and only NHRA event I have attended, did go to a IHRA event at Steele, AL, on a Fathers day in about 1990, didn't get to stay for the finish of it, either.
    We went to a few races at Winston County Dragstrip in Lynn, AL until the kids got about 10 or 11, and haven't been back since. Hard to stay at a race with two sleepy kids after about 10 PM, so we quit going. A new track, I22 in Eldridge, opened up a few years ago about 25 miles from me that took all of Winston County's business and they closed down, and I have never been to the the newer track. Now I'm the one that's ready for bed about 10 PM, lol. A friend of mine was at I22 last weekend, said they ran the last race at 6:30 AM Sunday morning, after starting at 8PM Saturday night. Too much for this old boy anymore!

    I'd love to go racing again myself, but it's just too damn expensive now. Never did like bracket racing, heads up was so much better. Cost a small fortune to be a competitive heads up racer now.
    els and Montana1 like this.
  11. Martin 131 while going to college in Kalamazoo, MI- 1964-68-
    els likes this.
  12. greg37
    Joined: Sep 9, 2013
    Posts: 263

    from mi.

    US 131 Martin Mi. Seen all the greats , Went first around 62 or 63 S/S was really big then. Dick Brannan, Ramchargers, etc. It's still going strong , a really nice track
    els likes this.
  13. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 9,565


    Hey Mike,

    In 1965, I had plenty of time in San Jose one weekend, riding around on my roommate's 65 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. I had the notion to find the Little Bonneville Drag Strip area. It was the first time in Northern California. I wanted to see a local dragstrip for the first time since our last escapade in 1960 at Lions in So Cal.

    I had just finished installing the TT downpipes on this Triumph and wanted to test it out. So, the Little Bonneville area was within a mile of our apartment in San Jose, near the college. The area was fairly empty and was good for a speed run, but the Little Bonneville strip was officially gone by that time.


    Since I did not actually ride on the "official strip," I decided to go up to the rest of the bay area for almost, a 400 mile ride on a Saturday. (Berkeley, college and hilltop views, Fremont GM plant and drags, Vic Hubbard's Shop, Ocean Beach, etc.)

    But, it all started with the speed run on the empty roads near King Road and Storey in San Jose. What is a college kid supposed to do, study all of the time?
    els likes this.
  14. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,256


    bobss396, we used to race at the East Islip 1/8 mile and Westhamptons 1/4 mile tracks back in the day. This is our 36 Ford drag car we built in my Grandpa's garage. I'm the skinny guy in the middle. IMG_0928.JPG
    els likes this.
    Joined: Feb 27, 2017
    Posts: 84


    Dad took me to Shuffletown Dragway in Charlotte, NC I am guessing it was about 1964-along in there
    We stood right beside the starting line just yards away from the cars--all I remember was a boatload of 55-56-57 Chevys--one Ford Starliner with Webbers--all the cars were four speeds--lay it on the wood and side step the clutch--all was going great until one EXPLODED--the engine turned into a baby rattle and it shelled the teeth of the flywheel like .38 bullets How anyone was not killed I will never know--I got hit in the foot with a rod cap--I bent down to pick it up and remember my Dad yelling NO! But it was too late I did pick it up --just did not take me long to look at it--guess it was about 300 degrees! I was hooked--been going ever since
    I never will forget they had a pie shaped piece of a flywheel stuck in the pavement at the line--took them 10 minutes to get it out and continue racing
    els likes this.
  16. dennyartist
    Joined: Jun 30, 2012
    Posts: 5


    York US 30. In York PA. Early in its existence don't remember the yr... But the air port was still in use and interrupted the races. The shut down area still ran on to use 30 now and then.

    Sent from my CT9223W97 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    els likes this.
  17. SUSQ
    Joined: Nov 5, 2012
    Posts: 98


    York US 30 was a great place indeed. Recently took my 19-year old son there to show him what used to be. Went down the road to the adjacent quarry to show him the just barely visible turn off to what was the pit entrance. He's pissed he missed out on it!
    els likes this.
  18. HiHelix
    Joined: Dec 20, 2015
    Posts: 381


    1968 Detroit Dragway and Columbiaville - Heros I seen were Walt Knoch Jr, Willie Borsche, Dudely Proctor, Pete Gates,among several others...Columbiaville - Frank Dade and a whole host of charactars....
    els likes this.
  19. czuch
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 2,688

    from vail az

    I was at the first race at Orange County International Race way, and at the very last event.
    The last one stands out because I had struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me.
    He was taking his kid to the drags for the first time.
    After several beers, I asked him if I could take his son, I was gonna try to get into the "Champion Tower".
    He laughed and said go ahead. We did.
    Over the velvet rope and up the stairs.
    We were in the announcer box with all the big wigs for about 15 minutes before someone noticed we didn't have a badge. No biggie, ya just gotta leave.
    His Dad asked if we made it.
    He gave his dad a huge roast beef sandwich he had pinched from the buffet on the way out.
    He couldn't have been 12.
    Fordors and els like this.
  20. Rockerhead
    Joined: Nov 16, 2006
    Posts: 321

    Member Emeritus

    After I stopped drag racing in 1972, I jumped into street rodding. It was interesting that back then almost all the guys in street rods had been involved in the drags. Most had run their cars; some only a few times and many had raced seriously. But as time went along the number of ex-drag racers in street rodding seemed to fade away. Now, when we go to the various breakfasts, or etc., it seem as if only a very small percentage of the guys used to drag race (I am not talking about street racing).
    Naturally much of the cause is the cost of competing.. Drag racing has become a professional sport with the prices to match. When drag racing started we could all afford to be a racer at various levels. Another possible reason is that the guys years ago all worked and built their hot rods. Today it seems that many young guys are more into their Iphones than cars. Smog laws and the complexity of the newer cars are also reasons for the reduction in drag race participation. I assume that everyone had an opinion on this subject. In Southern California, where we had as many a 10 drag strips running during the 1950s and 1960s, the ex-drag racers now involved in street rodding seem to be few and/or have passed on.
    As for me I raced at Santa Ana when it opened in July of 1950. 7071 (1024x645).jpg .This photo is of my Hudson sedan (Buick straight 8 powered) on a single run at the Goleta drags (Santa Barbara) in 1950. The drag strip was on a narrow access road on the Santa Barbara airport. The Santa Barbara Acceleratiom Assn. put on the first organized and scheduled drag racing events at the airport there. I put this picture merely to show that I was there when organized drag racing started.
    pitman, das858, elgringo71 and 3 others like this.
  21. HiHelix
    Joined: Dec 20, 2015
    Posts: 381


    Martin is a great track! Agreed,
    els likes this.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 10,307


    Proud late bloomer here. Detroit Dragway, 1971, Pro Stock match race. Dyno Don, Grumpy, Ramchargers, and more. Mom n Dad took all of us (5 kids) and she loved the Don Carlton Motown Missile. It would be 6 more years before I went back and saw nitro F/Cs for the 1st time. The "Snake" was running his Arrow back then. We walked in from King Rd to the south, about a 1 mile trek through a mosquito infested field to avoid the $10 tickets (!) and it was worth every bite. We lived in Allen park back then, about 10mi away, and I could hear the nitro cars from our house through my bedroom window.
    els and Fordors like this.
  23. earlymopar
    Joined: Feb 26, 2007
    Posts: 1,611


    The first race that I attended was at the McMinnville Oregon Airport in 1961. I was 9 years old and went with my 3 brothers and my dad. We continued going to "Mac" until it closed but we all attended the very first race at Woodburn (and still continue to go regularly today) as well as many races at PIR when it was still 1/4 mile. What an upbringing!

    - EM
    Gary Reynolds and els like this.
  24. hemiboy
    Joined: Apr 21, 2005
    Posts: 249


    1968. Deer Park, up north of Spokane. Jerry the King Ruth won top fuel, Ed McCoullach won funny car. Car I loved best was a ‘37 Chev coupe gasser. Went home covered in tire dust- you could stand right behind the cars as they did burnouts! That’s where I learned that slicks actually catch on fire during burnouts. Whataday!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    badgascoupe likes this.
  25. earlymopar
    Joined: Feb 26, 2007
    Posts: 1,611


    McMinnville, Oregon 1961 and then on to Woodburn in 1962. Woodburn was and still is a regular spot for me!

    - EM
  26. Kurt
    Joined: Nov 18, 2003
    Posts: 698


    Summer of 84 at Cordova.The big race of the night was the Lava Machine jet car against the Chi Town Hustler. Blew my friggin' mind.
  27. Sometime around 1957 at Lions drag strip. Local favorites included Herbert Cams, Howard's Cams, Albertson Olds and I was fortunate enough to see Cook and Bedwell blow the record sky high at 166.97 which was about 7 mph faster than the previous record. Super big day for me.
    jnaki likes this.
  28. warren49
    Joined: Feb 10, 2011
    Posts: 1


    I was just poking around and found this message. The date was actually June, 1965. The driver was Lou Cangelose from Kansas City, driving his car known as the Missouri Missile. Another driver, Tex Randall, lost his life at Aquasco, Maryland on the same day because of a chute failure too.
  29. Jokester
    Joined: Jan 29, 2005
    Posts: 695


    It must have been 1960-62. My soon to be brother-in-law took me to Atco raceway in NJ. Feature of the day....Garlits vs Kalitta. WOW
    The rest is geography!
  30. First time was Lion’s in the later 60’s. Match race between the altered wheelbase Brutus GTO vs. Gas Rhonda. Brutus 3/3

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