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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Vanishing Point

By Ralph "Gonzo" Crosby

Vanishing Point Rocket Funny Car Flying High. Photo art by Ralph Crosby

Sammy Miller used to run at old Miami and West Palm Beach (now Moroso) quite often. His Vanishing Point Rocket Car would sit on an open trailer at the Mobil Oil station at the exit of I-95 and Oakland Park Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale. TJ and I would look at it from the traffic and think it was ok but nothing special... We were wrong!

After seeing it kill the mph and et records by a ton every time it ran we knew it was gonna get axed. It was a real thrill to see Sammy upstage all the big names with that little car. He showed up with a rocket dragster named Oxygen but it didnít have the same sexiness as the coupe. Here is a short story of a typical Saturday night here when Sammy would show up unannounced to test and tune. I whipped up a little picture to try to convey the feeling...

The Story - Being hard core race car freaks, exhibition cars and the guys who owned them seldom excited old Tommy or me... until Saturday night.

We were out at the West Palm Beach Drag Way getting my bike ready for another run.

We would stop what we were doiní if a blown Anglia was careening down the track with its front wheels lifting at every shift. Maybe cast an eye out to the lights if Shirley or Don Gay or Jungle Jim was in town.

We would be too busy trying to fix whatever had just fallen off the bike, or what had broken last round, to run up through the staging lanes to watch a wheelie car or jet take off.

We slowly inched our way through the staging lanes during the eliminations. We were around two or three passes back when the speakers began blaring out that every man woman and child in south Florida had better roll up his windows, batten the hatches and get up on the top row of the bleachers pronto!

Out of the darkness to our left came a couple of guys pushing a tiny silver and orange funny car. They rolled quietly up past the lines of Willys, Camaros, Mustangs, and bikes waiting to run.

They had the air of a couple guys walking down a fairway.

The crowd was anticipating a long smoky burnout or maybe a scantily clad girl in daisy dukes directing them up to the line.

Nothing.

I looked at Tommy and he looked at me. No one else out there that night knew what we were about to see. Every single one of us would remember it the rest of our lives.

This genuine crazy man with silver hair and a giant smile was stuffed behind a hydrogen peroxide rocket pointed toward Jacksonville.

The starting line crew told everyone directly behind the little race car to get the hell out of there.

This gave Tommy and me a straight shot up to the ass end of the innocent looking racer.

I mean it wasnít crackling, popping, or farting, or even making our eyes sting.

We had seen plenty of nitro funny cars and top fuelers shoot out into the darkness with the flames lighting up the faces of the people in the stands as they thundered by.

We had seen guys going as fast as 260 mph at around six and a half seconds for cripes sake!

So, we leaned real far forward to get a good look at ol' Slammin' Sam as he lit off.

The crowd got real quiet and it seemed like Vanishing Point sat in the starting beams for about a minute or two.

Then there was a Pop! Like someone pulled the cork out of a bottle of champagne and the silver and orange rocket was a blur! You could see the crowd of people in the stands actually blow backwards from the shock wave as Sam shot by. He got about a eighth of a mile out and shut off, he coasted the rest of the way through the traps.

There has never been a group of people gathered together at a sporting event that were that quiet for that long.

Then we looked up at the finish line and saw the 300 mph.

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