I just read a story on draglist.com written by Chuck Johnson about
"Burndown Wars" and playing games with the Snake on the fire up
road at OCIR. It reminded me of another weird push start story.
Pomona Winternationals, 1969 or 1970, with the California Charger when it
was owned by Keeling, Johnson, and Van Luven and driven by Norm Wilcox. In
those days we flipped for lane choice and in qualifying we had to run
against Don "The Beachcomber" Johnson. I think Hank Westmoreland
was driving for him at the time. That year (most years) there was one good
lane, if you didn't get it you just wasted a run. Anyway, we went over to
Don Johnson to flip for lane choice and he refused to flip. He said
something to the effect that "whoever gets to the line first gets lane
Nobody knows what Don Johnson was thinking. He had a Datsun pickup for a
push truck. Our push truck, on the other hand, was Chuck Johnson's brand
new SS 396 El Camino. Chuck was never shy about going fast on the fire-up
road, especially with this hot new El Camino. When the word went out to fire
the next pair, Chuck floored the El Camino and ran top speed of the meet on
the fire-up road. Don Johnson's Datsun coughed, sputtered, and crawled
behind us. We got to the line first, took the good lane, and qualified on
that pass. The Beachcomber got the bad lane and didn't qualify.
We never understood why Don Johnson refused to flip for lane choice. At
least he would have had a 50-50 chance. Even Helen Keller could see that our
push truck was a lot badder than his was and in a race for the starting
line, he couldn't win, even if he had used nitrous oxide.
Unfortunately, I think that was the only race we won at Pomona that year.
Bob Van Luven