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Feb 20, 2011

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A Few Photos from New England Dragway, 1978 - 1981  Part 1

by David Hapgood

Once upon a time there was a track in rural New Hampshire that was considered to be one of the top drag strips on earth. I offer this meager pictorial tribute to Epping, a place once known as ‘The Funny Car Capital of the World.’

I first showed up at Epping for their notorious ‘Funny Car Nationals’ in 1978 -- a little late in the game, but better late than never.  It was quite an event, featuring twenty-three nitro FCs in five rounds of competition. Pete Williams endured to win it in the ‘Chi Town’ Mustang II over Roy Harris in the ‘Brutus.’ My only regret is that I only had only a Kodak Instamatic to document the event, and just one roll of film. Here is a sampling of photos.

The legendary 'Boston Strangler' BB/FC driven by Arnie Karp. The team was so popular at Epping that they had their own cheering sections in the grandstands.

Finalist Roy Harris in the 'Brutus' AA/FC ran top speed of the meet.

Kosty Ivanof always made the scene at Epping.

Dick Rosberg.

Rodalyn Knox in Bill Leavitt's former lowrider Monza.

The Gary Richards Dart, Harlan Thompson at the wheel.

The New Jersey based 'Cassidy Bros.' AA/FC.

Charlie Bauer's 'Night Fever' AA/DA.

Round one, Jimmy King beats my hero, Tommy Ivo, 6.43 to 6.44.

Epping quickly became a regular feature on my drag racing calendar. Here are a few photos from the 1979 WCS series event.
Larry Minor's top fueler, Larry Dixon Sr. driving.

The Etchells brothers in their first year of FC racing.

Jerry Caminito in white primer, in between wrecks.

The awe-inspiring view from the top of Epping's spectator side hill. The cars pictured here are just entering the timing traps.

Joe Petro's 'Kamikaze' BB/FC out of Revere, Massachusetts. And yes, he spoke with a Boston accent!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from the September 1979 Funny Car Nationals because my Instamatic camera was stolen late that night (a note to the person(s) on the spectator side hill who made off with a Converse duffel bag with a LEE Eliminators patch on the side and a Kodak camera inside: if you’re reading this and you have suffered from a guilty conscience for 30 plus years, now’s your chance to make things right. If you still have my film, I’d like it back. My e-mail address appears at the bottom of the article).

Losing the crappy Instamatic camera turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I was forced to upgrade to a 35mm SLR the following year, which was a pretty big deal back then for a kid who had just turned 16. Even though at first I was limited to 50mm lens, the quality of my photographs improved quite a bit overnight.

John Speelman's AA/FC at Epping's WCS race in August 1980, the weekend he clinched the Divisional championship.

Tommy Ivo and Roger Gustin, May 1980.

Ric Deschner's 427 Chevy powered AA/FC, aptly named 'Underdog.'

Maryland's finest, Seifert & Moyers AA/FC at the last-ever open competition nitro WCS in Division 1, August 1980.

--  David Hapgood

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