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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

John's Once in a Lifetime Event

By John Hutchinson

Nov 9 - The temperature in California in November is approximately in the mid 60s, but this year it was in the high 70s and low 80s. The second of three qualifying days at the NHRA Finals. At the NHRA Museum, this evening after the day's racing the NHRA had invited all the Top 50 Drivers voted by a select panel. Relatives of deceased drivers were invited along. Dave McClelland was the announcer calling out the Top 50, from 50 to 3. Numbers 2 and 1 wouldn't be announced until Sunday at Pomona Raceway, but everyone knew that the LA Times had leaked the story that John Force was No. 2 and Don Garlits was Numero Uno. 

Before the announcing began everyone went outside where in total darkness they fired up the "Magicar" TF Dragster and another dragster, which name I've forgotten. With two foot flames leaping from the header pipes, the beautiful cackling sound and the smell of nitro, it was fantastic. I met James Ibusuki, the Drag Racing Artist and friend I've known for quite a few years. It was great to meet him. I have ten of his incredible lithographic prints. The latest one, "Milestones and Mementos," which salutes the NHRA's 50th Anniversary, is the best one yet. 

I took photos of the following Drag Racing Legends:

TV Tommy Ivo - This guy drove everything, single-engined, twin-engined and four-engined dragsters, and jet cars. A really nice guy, when I said I was on holiday from England he mentioned about 1964 when Garlits and him and other racers came to tour England with the U.S. Drag Racing Team racing on old airfields. The Buick twin-engined dragster and the four-engined dragster "Showboat" were on display in the museum.
"Mousie" Marcellus - The crewchief of the famed Marcellus and Borsch "Winged Express" Fuel Altered. A new version of the Express sat outside, now driven by Mike Boyd.
"Dyno" Don Nicholson - Driver of possibly the first "flip-top" A/FXers or Funny Cars, later became a Pro-Stock driver.
"Big Daddy" Don Garlits - Everything has been said about this man, an innovator, his first rear-engined dragster on display in the museum. At Pomona, Swamp Rat 6, the car he brought to England in '64 was on display.
Shirley Muldowney - Three time Winston TF Champion, back in NHRA competition, sponsored by Goosehead.Com, Richard Dreyfuss' company. A very nice woman.
Doug Thorley - Driver of the "Chevy II Much" Funny Car.
Bob Glidden - Pro-Stock driver whose record of 85 wins when he retired everyone thought was insurmountable, until Warren Johnson exceeded it in the Pro-Stock ranks, then John Force in his Funny Car is now on his 97th win and counting.
Joe Amato - The only man to win Five Winston Top Fuel Championships, has retired to run his vast TRW Automotive business and help Darrell Russell, his new driver.
Alex Xydias - Co-owner along with Pete Chapouris of the SoCal Speed Shop.

On my NHRA 2002 Calendar, I got the following autographs:

Tom McEwen
Don Nicholson
Steve Gibbs - Curator, NHRA Museum
"Mousie" Marcellus
C.J. Pappy Hart - Founder of the 1st dragstrip, Santa Ana
Shirley Muldowney
Bob Muravez AKA Floyd Lippencott Jr - Driver of the "Freight Train," twin-engined gas dragster, his parents are from Kent, England. Dragster on museum display
Richard Tharp - driver of the "Candies & Hughes" TF Dragster
Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins - James Ibusuki was getting him to sign more of the prints "Best Of The Doors" featuring Jenkins racing Sox & Martin
TV Tommy Ivo
Don Garlits
James Ibusuki - All of his original paintings are on display in the museum
Carl Olson - Driver of the Kuhl & Olson TF Dragster
Dale Pulde - Now campaigns the "Ground Zero" front-engined TF dragster at Goodguys Nostalgia Drag Racing Events, used to drive the "War Eagle" Funny Car
Gary Beck - Canadian TF driver
Wally and Barbara Parks - Wally founded the NHRA and "Hot Rod Magazine" in 1951, helping along with the Drag Safari touring the USA and many volunteers to get illegal street racing onto old airfields. Parks Tower at Indianapolis Raceway Park is named after Barbara and him; a statue of him is outside the museum
Dale Armstrong - Former $300,00 per year crewchief on Kenny Bernstein's Funny Car & TF Dragster, now crewchief on the World Wrestling Federation Funny Car
Doug Thorley
Ray Brock - Contributor of articles for various magazines
Joe Amato
Bob Glidden

This was a very special "ONCE IN A LIFETIME EVENT" that won't be repeated in my lifetime.

John Hutchinson
58 Wordsworth Street
Gateshead, England
dragracingman@hotmail.com

 

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