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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

How I Got My Start

By Jon Asher

The time was 1966, and I was newly married and selling dictation equipment (do they still use that stuff?) for a company called Stenocord in Chicago when I stopped by Mr. Norm's Dodge for the first time.

Working in the back on the race car were Gary Dyer, John Hogan, who would go on to become crew chief for Schumacher in the late 60s early 70s) and Ron "Snag" O'Donnell.

I shot some photos and hung out a few times, and finally asked Dyer if he thought Norm would buy photos.

"No, he's too cheap," he told me, "but here's the name of the guy who will."

Dyer turned me on to the late (oh, man, the guy's name escapes me at the moment) who worked at BBDO advertising in Detroit. I invested my last three or four bucks in a pay phone call to the guy who, amazingly enough, hired me to go to two races with Dyer to shoot for Dodge -- a match race at Martin, Michigan, and another the following day in Ubly, Michigan.

Now, Ron O'Donnell has said he talked them into letting me go in the truck, but as I recall it, when I had the job with Dodge, Gary Dyer was fine with my going, but who remembers?

Anyway, the show at Martin was four cars, I think, including the Ramchargers, Dyer, and I was going to say Maynard Rupp's "Chevoom," but I'm honestly not positive about that. The next day at Ubly I think it was the Ramchargers again, just the two cars.

I knew NOTHING about photography (like, I know it now?) and in talking with the guy from BBDO (first name John) he told me he wanted "color pictures." Even then, I knew he meant color slides, or transparencies. That's what I said to him, and he said no, "color pictures."

I ended up sending the guy 73 wallet sized prints (please don't laugh, and no, I had no idea what a "proof sheet" was at that point), and when I called him he said, "What am I gonna do with these? I can't use this stuff!"

"I told you the other day you wanted slides, but you insisted on color prints, so that's what I shot. What are you going to do about payment?"

At that point, I thought if he paid me $150 for the weekend, I'd be rich.

He said, "Well, since I can't use these, how does $500 sound?"

I maintained long enough to reply, "That's okay for this time around, but next time we need to figure out the price in advance."

I ended up going to several races with the gang that summer, including the first all supercharged F/C show that took place on the East Coast later in August.

That's where I met "Diamond Jim" Kelly, and if anyone could really be credited for helping me really get started, it was him.

Jon Asher


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