The Little Red Fueler
Makes a Pass
© Bill Ott 2000
Badco's Truck & the Strokers Dragster. Photo by Betty Ott
Please indulge me on the date and
location. Feel free to fill in your own...
It's Saturday July 28, 1963. The people
lining both sides of the Atco Dragway nod approvingly as a red pickup
pushes an unknown dragster down track. At about three quarter track the
pickup slows to a stop as the dragster attempts a U-turn. The
crewmembers jump out of the pickup and push the racecar back and forth a
few times until it negotiates its U-turn on the narrow confines of the
The buzz from the crowd falls off to a
hushed whisper as the pickup slowly moves up behind the poised dragster
until its front bumper makes contact with the push bar on the rear of
the race car. The crowd falls silent and one can hear a few last minute
shouts between the crew and the driver just before the engine in the
pickup roars to life and the two vehicles move as one.
After this procession has sped down track
a few hundred feet, the front of the pickup noses downward as the brakes
are applied. The dragster continues on silently as the quiet is broken
by the sound of the pickup's horn followed immediately by the sound of
the 392 cubic inch Chrysler engine coming to life. A sputter at first,
followed by a roar as the Hemi clears its throat and falls into that
wonderful loping sound only one of these engines can make.
All eyes focus on the starting line
area as the crew frantically repeats the U-turn ritual completed just
moments before. By now, all in both the staging area and the stands are
craning their necks to get a better view of this magnificent racecar as
it approaches the starting line. As one crewman makes a last minute
check of the engine, two others frantically wipe unseen dirt and dust
off the huge slicks, as the driver lowers his visor and stares down track.
As the dragster approaches the starting
line, the driver now focuses his attention at the flagman half-standing,
half-kneeling about fifty feet down track. The flagman points a red flag
held in his left hand at the driver while the green flag in his right
hand is pointed towards the ground. The driverís eyes move as he makes
one last glance at the engine temperature and oil pressure gauges. Then
the driver nods his head at the flagman.
Within a second or two the flagman
drops the red flag towards the ground, while at the same time he raises
the green flag over his head and leaps into the air arching his back
while jumping a few feet in the air and waving the green flag madly.
Simultaneously the dragster roars to
life as all eight cylinders growl, smoke starts to billow of the slicks
and the front wheels are now dangling a few inches above the racetrack
while the dragster charges forward in an act of pure mechanical poetry.
As the race car travels down track one can hear the driver make that
shift to high gear, but that is the only time the sound from the
screaming Hemi varies. By mid-track the smoke billowing off the tires
has subsided, the front wheels are back on the ground, and the dragster
can be seen leaving two distinct tire tracks as it speeds towards the
As it clears the traps, the roar of the
engine is replaced by an almost deafening silence except for a quiet
echo coming from the trees. The huge ribbon type parachute has opened by
now and the racecar is safely rolling to a stop. Now everyone's
attention is aimed at the track announcer, while we all wait for the
numbers on that beautiful pass.
Once again, the crowd roars to life as
the announcer screams, "8.62 seconds at 177.12 miles per hour... a
NEW track record!" By now, all the crewmembers have climbed back
into the pickup and as it roars down the track to retrieve the proud
racecar. All aboard wave and scream while the horn is blaring! Good job
More old B.S. later.