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Discussion in 'Historical' started by Beentherebefore, Oct 19, 2013.
Wonder if the flagman ever got taken out!
I never saw it happen (although I did see some come very close to being taken out) but I heard about some incidents. Early drag tires weren't very wide (7 inches was considered wide!) and traction wasn't great anyway at the old converted airstrips and other early hastily attempted efforts at dragstrips. A car getting loose enough to turn 60 degrees or more at the hit of the throttle and/or the dumping of the clutch could easily take out a flagman. Any such incidents would usually make the local papers (and add to the already shady reputation of drag racers back in those days) and that was what inspired NHRA to develop the "Christmas Tree" starting system which they still use today. Ironically, I did see a few of them get taken out, including one intentionally when a Fuel Dragster driver thought that the tree had somehow favored his opponent.
I guess the good thing is that the cars weren't going that fast right off the line...
They wouldn't have to be going very fast to injure a flagman severely. My first year drag racing (legally) they ran us 4-wide at Half Moon Bay one time to speed up the program - a pair on each side of the flagman! As we approached the finish line, spectators were only about 10 feet back from the edge of the track with nothing between them & us but a chest-high wooden slat fence. Before safety became a big issue with NHRA due to lawsuits and insurance requirements, things were what you might want to call pretty lax. They were just glad to get and provide a place for drag racers to get them off the streets.
You wouldn't think that considering how much of a pain that Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins became for Mopar NHRA racers that Chrysler would feature him in their ads, but here he is.............
Looks like somebody showed up at the Half Moon Bay dragstrip on the same day as me in 1963 to shoot a photo of the Hayden Proffitt Plymouth with a better camera setup than my old Brownie box camera was (photo shared from Pinterest). Proffitt was there to match race with the "Melrose Missile" Plymouth. More on post #28 of this thread.
The same photographer must have followed me out to Kingdon dragstrip in Lodi, CA to shoot better photos of the same two top level Plymouth drivers in a big Top Stock shootout in 1964.
The Petty-blue Plymouth in the background looks like it might be the Milne Brothers SS car , probably driven by Bill Hanyon.
(photo shared from the HAMB board)
The Half Moon Bay race was featured in HRM later in the year.
(HRM page shared from the HAMB board)
Page from "Super Stock" magazine (shared from Pinterest) featuring Dick Landy's Charger being prepared for AHRA racing. AHRA (which no longer exists) was a rival of NHRA and had more liberal rules for SSers. For a few years, the crowds at AHRA's big races (like their Winternationals held in Phoenix) rivaled those at NHRA races. Once NHRA landed a TV contract with "Wide World of Sports", they pulled away in attendance and prestige.
Series of photos (shared from Pinterest) shot @ one of the biggest dealerships supporting Dodge in NHRA and other drag racing sanctioning organizations - Grand Spaulding Dodge.
From lightweight Super Stocker in 1964...........
To early AWB Funny Car in 1965 - 66.................
To next generation Funny Cars..................
I can't make out for sure but it looks like the Charger might be an early iteration of the lift up type body common to all Funny Cars today.
Photo of the Jack Werst team hauler (shared from Pinterest). More on Jack Werst on page #19 of this thread.
Nice photo of the Rod Shop Dodge Coronet wagon just popped up on Pinterest. It was driven by Dave & Judi Boertman to several wins in Stock Elim in 1971.
I posted quite a bit about the Boertmans and the Rod Shop team back on P17 of this thread.
Just found these photos on Pinterest of a car we used to see regularly in the major NHRA races on the West Coast in the 80's - the Chrysler "Direct Connection" backed SS/FA 440 6-Pack Challenger of Paul Rossi.
Although Rossi never won a major NHRA Natl event with this Challenger, another of his team cars - this Dodge Aspen driven by Larry Harrell - won Stock Eliminator @ the 1985 Fallnationals.
In 1986 Rossi got some backing from Chrysler to go road racing in the IMCA series with FWD Shelby Omni Chargers and won some races in that series. IIRC, he also wrote a manual with Chrysler engineers about setting up FWD racers for IMCA racing.
Photo of Gary Ostrich's SS/GA '67 Belvedere wagon @ the '67 US Nationals shared from the Peterson photo archive on Facebook.
Gary Ostrich had this nice looking SS/BA Hemi 'Cuda at Pomona a few years later. I saw it at the Winternationals but I can't remember exactly what year that was.
Photo (shared from Pinterest) of a SS Mopar of some renown with an interesting history - the "Iron Butterfly" lightweight Hemi '64 Dodge, here being driven by Dick Oldfield. The car was built by Mopar guru Ted Spehar and, before Oldfield, was also driven by Wally Booth, who went on to fame driving one of the AMC Hornet Pro Stock cars.
The "Iron Butterfly" was later sold to the Rod Shop team where it was driven by Larry Morgan (among others) who also went on to become a Pro Stock racer. The car had Super Shops as a sponsor for awhile, then was eventually sold to the Jim DeFrank team in Calif. After that, the car was sold to Rick Johnson in Minn. who has owned and raced it ever since. In 2010, Johnson won Super Stock @ the Brainerd Nationals with the car, beating DeFrank's son in the final. More history of the car is detailed in this page from the 2010 article in "National Dragster" covering that race.
It's a little hard to read but Johnson states that it is the only original '64 Hemi lightweight Dodge that was still actively racing (back in 2010). The motor was built by Ray Barton.
Arlen Vanke died
For all his drag racing victories, most behind the wheel of a Pontiac or a Plymouth in the Stock, Super Stock and later, Pro Stock classes, “Akron” Arlen Vanke should have been a better-known driver. His talent as a mechanic was equally noteworthy, and his improvements to the dual-quad intake on Chrysler’s 426 Hemi engine gave rise to the term “Vanked,” or tuned to extract maximum power at a specific RPM range. Following a life that revolved around racing and building cars, Arlen Vanke died last Thursday at a care facility in Deming, New Mexico.
I was saddened to read this when it was reported on the web. We have lost so many of the greats. You know you are getting older when your heros start to pass away.
Some "Akron Arlen" images shared from Pinterest...................