Berserko Bob - Jet Car Flag Starter
By "Berserko Bob" Doerrer
You saw it here -- Berserko Bob Doerrer flag starts two jet cars. Photo by Norman Blake
[I take great pride in welcoming the inimitable
"Berserko Bob" Doerrer to the family of draglist.com contributors.
For funny car racers and fans of the 1970s, the name Berserko Bob was
synonymous with drag racing FUN on the East Coast. Welcome, BB! bp]
It was April 1979 and I was working at Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ. as the track's announcer, asst. manager and a dozen other titles. During competition eliminator's 2nd round, an errant A/Altered got out of shape and took down the Xmas tree. While repairs were being made, Al Eierdam's "Emergency One" (left) and Les Shockley's "Shockwave" were in the staging lanes ready to run. Al and Les both wanted to make their last of three passes so they could get on the road and put on a show for the fans.
I got the zany idea to flag start them off and everyone thought I was crazy. I figured if I stood about 40' past the starting line I shouldn't have a problem with jet blast. Photographer "Stormin'" Norman Blake asked if he could stand behind me in the center of the track and record it for posterity. People now thought we were both wacked but "the show must go on." Norman decided to go another 20' down track to shoot the photo.
The stage is set; we're ready to go. The jets fire up, do their usual pre-race show of smoke and burner pops and start creeping their way to the line. They stage; I point to both drivers and they nod that they're ready. Doing my best Bob Beazer imitation, I whip the flag (actually a rag) into the air and jump as high as I can. The jets took off...
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Having a pair of jet dragsters shoot by you on both sides is unlike any thing else on earth. The heat, noise, fire, and vibrations were surreal.
After they passed by me I crouched down until the run was over. I turned around and looked at Norman. He looked at me and we both went nuts. We were jazzed. Norman was screaming, "I got it, I got it!" He took off right away to the Raceway Park darkroom to develop his film. What you see here is the result of an unusual set of circumstances that turned into a thrill of a lifetime for both of us.