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Hemi Hunter's Top Fuel Tales

Parking in the Neighbor's Driveway

By Gary Peters

Now that I have some time and reflective moments to spare, when I think of all the things associated with drag racing, the things I remember with repugnance are the hours of towing. All you folks who are still at this game know what I mean. Dog tired, smelly, and sticky from the day's racing labors, and you can get a pretty good picture of this part of racing, and why it flat out stinks.

On top of that, it always was and still is the most dangerous part of racing. No matter what you tow with, if you're the crew, it's not nice. I'm sure many cars and crews have many tales to tell of late night thrills, and not the kind that just popped into you mind either -- it never involved the ladies. BP has already posted one story about the fire on Route 95. So, here is another little story just to assure you of that famous saying: Are we having fun yet?

It's late one balmy early morning and we are driving home from a match race in Maryland. The time is about three o'clock in the morning. We're driving up Route 100 in Pennsylvania. Actually, it's a pretty road to drive on; it weaves through many small and picturesque villages. Well, it did back in 1975. It's a two-lane road from West Chester all the way to our home base in Bethlehem, Pa. We were using Roger's tow truck, as we had sold our well-loved Chevy carry all to build the new car.

I hung in there as long as I could, but I needed to get some sleep. Roger was driving and I told him I was going into the back of his pick-up bed that had a cap on it. Jim was left in the front with Roger to help keep him awake. Roger's girl friend and another crewmember, Bobby, were already asleep in the back of the truck. I crawl through the sliding window and settle down for a long summer's nap. Along with the other two folks in the back was a large toolbox full of tools.

I must have been asleep for a little while when I hear Roger yell, "Hang on, were going in." I wake up instantly; knowing this is not good. We start to spin and I hear the tires screeching on the road. Everyone is awake and screaming at the top of his or her lungs. I can remember this very clearly to this day. All three of us in the back were in suspended animation, hanging in mid air. It seems the truck is doing loops down the road. We are all in the air along with the toolbox, just circling in the cap of the truck. I hear a loud crack and the back doors of the truck spring open.

Bobby starts to slide out of the opening were the doors used to be. I grab him by his belt and get my hand on the handle of the toolbox. I pull with all my might, and he flips back into the truck. Seconds later, the trailer slams into the back of the truck, as the tow hitch was torn off the under side of the truck. And the truck and trailer were doing a ballet down this narrow two-lane road.

I'm waiting for the big crash, but nothing happens. We come to a sudden stop. We all get out of the truck; it was easy, there was no back left on the bed or cap. I look down the road and see the skid marks from the truck and trailer. I also see the tow hitch and bumper from the truck lying in the road. There are no other vehicles to be seen. I look around and can't believe what we have just been through.

Wait a minute, something is missing. Were the heck is the trailer? Were running around picking up the pieces of the truck on the road. It was misty that early morning. Thank goodness, nobody was hurt, just some minor cuts and bruises. The toolbox had some of its drawers pulled open and tools were scattered about on the road. I'm walking down the road looking for the trailer. What a way for the poor Hemi Hunter to come to its end. It wouldn't be the first time for a car to end up this way.

Pictures enter my mind of the trailer being torn to pieces with the car wrapped around a tree. I keep looking through the mist, and the whole thing has disappeared. Am I dreaming this whole thing? I walk some more and then I see what looks to be the trailer. But that can't be it; it's parked in this fellow's driveway. I walk some more and sure enough, I see the familiar name on the side of the trailer.

I see the marks on the road, and see that the trailer had spun along the road, and went right down the driveway. The driveway had a telephone pole on one side and a mailbox on the other side. The trailer had spun on an arc, entered the driveway between the pole and mailbox, and stopped inches short of the fellow's garage doors. The electric brakes had been applied by the breakaway switch. The trailer was perfectly lined up in the driveway. Simply amazing. Neither the pole nor the mailbox were touched. I thought I had better check for damage. I walked from side to side looking for damage. There was none. The hitch just had the ball from the trailer hitch sticking in the coupler, and the wires were torn off.

We all gather around the trailer and cannot believe what we see. I've talked about the racing Gods in some of the other stories. Well, there also must be a towing God, ‘cause he was with us that morning. We open the trailer's side door to see how badly the car is damaged. All that happened was a front axle weight had torn off the rack on the wall and dented the nosepiece.

To this day, I still feel that something mysterious took place that night. It just couldn't have happened that way. We went back for the trailer next day with a friend's truck. In the light, I looked at the distance we traveled down that road spinning in the truck with the trailer following. You couldn't have backed that long trailer into that driveway if you tried. No one ever came out of the house. Not that night, nor the following day. The people living in that house must have been away on vacation.

Now that we've bought a new trailer for the new Hemi Hunter, I just want to remind the trailer Gods that we still love and respect them. Boy, all of a sudden that song "On the road again" springs into my brain, along with an image of Willie Nelson. If you live on the right coast and see us tooling down the road in the near future, give us a wave, and say a little prayer for us. I really don't want to write anymore trailer and towing stories.

Gary Peters


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