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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Turn Your Face to the Wind

By James Morgan

The last time 32 funny cars fired at once in New England. Photo montage by James Morgan
The last time 32 funny cars fired at once in New England. Photo montage by James Morgan

This series of pictures is from 1976, but the story to be told happened one year later. Just before the start of the 1977 New England funny Car Nationals, all 32 cars were lined up as in this picture. It was at this point that the track announcer, Jan Landers, broke the news. One week before, on a highway in Pennsylvania, "Jungle" Jim Liberman succumbed to injuries he received after a crash in his Corvette on the streets. The entire place went silent. 

"Jungle" ruled the New England Funny Car Nats. Three wins and a runner-up in the race's 10-year history spoke of a racer who not only knew how to run quick, but also how to win rounds. Fifteen in a row at one point. Then in a delivery that only Jan Landers could have pulled off he informed those in attendance that the management had discussed asking for a moment of silence in remembrance of our fallen hero, but someone in the tower brought up the point that was probably the last thing "Jungle" would have wanted. 

So, they asked us, as all 32 Nitro burners were brought to life, to remember all those great races that "Jungle" had provided us. Jan also told the gathered crowd, as a tribute to "Jungle," this would be the last time 32 cars would be started at the same time. With a warm NH late summer breeze sifting through the air, 32 ground pounders lit off and cackled, as the stunned race fans stood in respect. Since that day, every whiff of nitro carrying on a warm breeze brings me back to that moment. "Jungle," those of us lucky enough to have seen your act will never forget.

James Morgan
jdmmfr@gsinet.net
http://www.Motorsportunderground.com

 

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