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Cool article George, I love hearing about the early days. I think my all time favorite team I have ever read about was The Surfers with Mike Sorokin at the wheel. Compared to then, drag racing today kind of sucks in my opinon. Nothing like it was when it started but then I guess nothing is...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
For you, Shelton.


Unless stated otherwise, Photos and captions are from Don Ewald.

"Here's one I shot at good old Julesburg, CO on the 4th of July 1959. Chassis Research with one of those screaming Packards on fuel. The Julesburg strip opened in 1958 and was the only paved track in Colorado before Continental Divide Raceway opened in 1959. The engine was one of two gifts from Packard. A lawyer in the car club I belonged to wrote to Packard (don't know what he said) and they sent two complete engines. One went into the lawyer's Hudson and this one went into a club member's digger. Those were fun days. Oh, yeah, Julesburg is still in operation as an NHRA drag strip and it hasn't changed much since it was built."


Jack Chrisman - "Howard Cam Twin Bear" - Denver, 1959
Photo by Pete Garramone


Bob Brissette's twin flathead - Smokers Meet, 1955


Ground Zero - Bean Bandits - 1951
Kids, this is square 'A' - Genesis - Where it ALL started.
Whatever you want to call it. If anyone has an older pic of a front engine dragster - send it.
Picture courtesy of "Two To GO"

"Cook & Bedwell" - A/D - 1958
The frame rails are Buick drive shafts, the nose was made of steel in
a sheet metal brake and the body tail section started life as a pair
of '40 ford rear fenders. Can you make out the stock dipstick?

Lloyd Scott - "Bustle Bomb" - Santa Ana, 1955.
This car ran 151 MPH at the 1955 World Series, that world record speed might have held up throughout 1956.
One of the first dual engine cars. (from Doug King)

T.V. Tommy Ivo - A/FD - 1958
"This car held both ends of the B/GD Standard 1320 Record from 1958 until the "Tinker Toy" broke it. 152 MPH - 9.41 ET It won 1959 Bakersfield with Ivo. It was Ivo's 1st dragster, it was Don Prudhomme's 1st dragster Prudhomme (won Bakersfield with it in 1960 with Dave Zueshel's 392). Don sold it to Heth & Thompson in Denver." - Lee Schelin
Photo from Alan Crowl

Belly tank bodied gas dragster. Cadillac engine(?). Shot in the pits at Famoso in '58 or '59.
Think the roll bar, seat, and steering wheel would get by tech inspectors today?
Photo by John Moore


"Herbert Cam Special" - A/D - Bakersfield, 1959.
This "Herbert Cam Spl." was owned and driven by "Doc" Todd Rawleigh.
It was probably Bernie Mather who dubbed it the "The Hot Beef Special".
Photo by John Moore

No ID on this twin flathead digger from 1957.
Believe me when I tell you, this was probably a killer car back then.
Photo by John Moore


Vincent-Govia-Santos - "Top Banana Two" - Haward, CA, 1958.
"This is when the car was brand new. The entire car was built in our old shop ( in Hayward) except for
the Jack Hageman body. The frame was made of angle aluminum boxed and welded together.
I think you will agree the car was ahead of its time as its performance proved."
Photo and Commentary from Skip Govia.

Tommy Ivo - "Ivo & Zeuschel" - AA/FD - Bakersfield, 1964
There are many photos of Tommy (now Tom) Ivo on this site. The reason is simple... he has probably owned more dragsters and made more runs down a quarter mile than any man in history. As a humble peer, I believe he deserves all the recognition and credit possible. This shot shows his first wheel stand with a fueler (after switching from several gas dragsters). The late Dave Zeuschel (background) saying, "What the hell are you doing now?"


The late Don Maynard - Chris Karamesines' "ChiZler" - AA/FD - 1962
The "Greeks" one and only twice motored fueler. Couldn't afford all the tires.
"Dragphotography by SLATTS"

These next few are from the excellent pages showing the story of "The Surfers".

2/20/66 Pomona, Winternationals.

"Here's a nice shot of us doing our standard maintenance on the car after a run. Let me run you through our normal deal so you can see how simple drag racing could be in those days if you did your homework well and your luck was good. We would stop somewhere and pull the '55 Chevy alongside the dragster, open the trunk and go to work. First we would take off the valve covers and study the sparkplugs for clues of any problems. Then we would go through the valves, not so much to check the valve clearance as to find any little problems such as broken rollers, pushrods, evidence of too much heat in a cylinder, or other things. One of us would turn the motor over and the other would adjust the valves, this time I'm doing the adjusting on the far side and Skinner is coming towards you in the blue and white shirt. You can see a bar with a bicycle handle bar grip sticking off of the top blower pulley, that is what we used to turn the motor over with. If there were no problems we would put it back together and fill it up with some more 98% nitro. We changed the oil every two or three runs only because the nitro that got into the oil would cause the bearings to fail if you went too many rounds without changing it. If we hurried this would all take five minutes and sometimes we would do it down in the turn out area at the end of the drag strip while Mike and Robyn would pack the parachute. Then we would push it into line for the next round and wander off to visit or see what we could learn from the competitors. We always tried to not get dirty but sometimes that didn't work out."
Tom Jobe
 

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I wonder if I am related to the guys who had the "Albertson Olds" ??????
 

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Question from a guy who's too young to know: why did the motors point down in so many of those sweet old FEDs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Originally they didn't. If you look at photos of the earliest diggers, the engines were pretty much level. But then as the tires got better, they tried to lower the engine (and the center of gravity) so as to keep the front wheels on the ground. The drag sliicks in those days were about 30" OD which would put the pinion in the rear end about 15" off the ground, way more than the distance between the centerline of the crank and the bottom of the oil pan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was looking at the photos of the T/F cars that were running this weekend. Other than the paint jobs, every car looks like every other car. I bet that if they were all painted flat black, even the driver's couldn't tell them apart. Now go look at the cars in the photos above.
 

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I was looking at the photos of the T/F cars that were running this weekend. Other than the paint jobs, every car looks like every other car. I bet that if they were all painted flat black, even the driver's couldn't tell them apart. Now go look at the cars in the photos above.
I agree George. Same thing in Nascar, without the decals you cant tell them apart. The only reason I watch NHRA at all is to see Pro Stock, specifically to see WJ and KJ. WJ is the last of my "original drivers" that is still racing, the rest are dead or retired. Once he retires I will probably still keep up with KJ, just like I do with Jr. But its not the same. For some reason I just cant really get into the new drivers that much in NHRA. At least NASCAR still has a few "characters" left but they are a disappearing breed over there too. For the most part the drivers in all the series are just as much cookie cutter as the cars they drive....
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
We still have drag racing today but in many respects, it's no longer the same sport as it was. On the professional side, it's all professional, with only three classes and with all the cars looking the same. Without the airbrushed grills, all the F/C's look the same. All the P/S cars look almost the same too. All the cars have the same engines or at least, the exact same specs as each other. On the sportsman side, what can I say? At least it's more interesting because of the different combinations but the racers today are too busy pissing and moaning about what the other car weighs or whatever. Too concerned about "the money", the purse, the contingencies. That gets very old very quickly. Race cars have always been expensive relative to income. They have always been too expensive to race. Nothing has changed on that front................accept the attitudes.
 

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When I was in Ocala Florida for a WKA race (engine teching) we were given free passes to veiw the Don Garlits museum.Pretty much had the time of my life, what a great experience.

We where fortunate for Don to be in the area and he came and shook our hands and spent some time chatting.

He told us a story of in the early days he blew up his race motor and put the hemi out of the tow vehicle in the race car. He said them were the days you could win a race by simply knowing the old hemi's wanted a bunch of lead.
 

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George, between the stuff ya' been postin lately and the "Drag Cars in motion" thread on the H.A.M.B. gotta be some of the best stuff on the internet, Thanks and keep it comin'
x2. well done, man
btw, if garlits ain't the greatest, he certainly has to get props for cheating death more than any other driver, moreso than even force or eddie hill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Don Garlits was the innovator's innovator. Plus, he built the cars, built the engines, drove the cars, towed them to the races, everything. Show me a single dragster driver today that can say that.
 
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