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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Charleston R.I. Reunion, Day Two

©2000 Bill Ott

Sunday, June 11, 2000.  

While waiting in the motel parking lot for Jack Brady, couldn't help but notice the change in the weather from yesterday, downright cool this morning. And a local FM station is playing an oldie by Dinah Washington… "What a difference a day makes." Sometimes there's a lot of harmony in the Universe.

Jack pulls into the lot 7:30 sharp with the Topolino in tow on an open trailer (just like the old days) looking bitchin' with its new Sweet Red/Orange coat, with matching SB Chevy with SIX jugs on top, and spoked Mag wheels in front. No way this day ain't gonna be cool!

Time to go pick up Wheels (aka Harrison Inglis), but on the way we'll drop by Larry Stauff's house and meet a few others. Larry opens his garage door and out rolls a red all steel '49 Anglia Street Rod that I was told was a GASSER in a former life. About then Ted Johnson pulls up out front in his all original silver '65 Chevy. After a short bench race session we're off again.

Arriving at the motel our "parade" parked on the lot, while I went in to get Wheels. At the door I was greeted with "Hey man, did you see all of the cool cars in the parking lot?" When I informed him that was our escort to the Reunion, he beat me to the lobby!

Upon arriving at the Reunion grounds, we again were given the VIP treatment by Bob George and his entire staff. Found us a shady spot front and center under the pavilion and now the bench racing was about to begin in earnest! I'd brought my old photos and handouts from Atco and was looking forward to sharing them with these folks from "up North."

About then a roar was heard that turned everyone's head towards to center of the show field. It seems that Jack had rolled the Fiat off the trailer and couldn't wait to fire it up! Sounded crisp and got a lot of comments. BTW, Jack was ably assisted by his teenage son Pat… who seems like he's caught "The Disease," too! Man, we gotta pass this stuff off to the kids, before it's gone forever! Pat also plays a mean set of drums.

When things settled back down again we were joined by Mark Hovsepian, lookin' all business-like in a red 1320 T-Shirt with a camera strapped to his neck. Mark and I had met before at last years' CHRR… hell, we even "borrowed" Wheel's golf cart from Ewald and cruised the Famoso grounds!

Hey, speaking of Wheels, he came all the way from Santa Fe, N.M., to attend this thing and they speak a whole ‘nuther version of the English language here in the Boston area. He coulda done with an interpreter, but there wasn't one to be found! Seems he spent a whole lotta time saying, "Huh?" Another term heard a number of times was, "He's not from around here, is he?"

Got to visit with two gentlemen who had campaigned a Cad powered roadster in the early ‘50s and eventually moved up to the famous Lloyd bodied competition coupe "Lil' Patriot" that recently was featured in a "name the car" contest held by a car magazine. I believe one of the gentlemen's names was Jim O'Brien. They brought some great old snapshots of cars and racing action with them that I pored over while they checked out my Atco stuff.

While on the subject of old snapshots, got a chance to meet Arnie and Bernie Shuman and grab a copy of their book "Cool Cars Square Roll Bars." Got ‘em both to sign it, too. Now I've got something to look forward to every time I head for the "library!"

Time for lunch. Talk about good conversation over broiled steak… Steve Gibbs, Wheels, Mark Hovsepian, Don Roberts, and Jeff Howe (and maybe one or two others I've forgotten). Oh yeah, the caterer advised us they WOULD be counting the Silverware after lunch! Our reputations remain intact!!

After lunch, it was time for the awards presentations and to meet the gentleman for whom all of this is about… Ed Sarkisian, one of Hot Rodding (and all of Motorsports) premier writers, now severely handicapped by MS and living in a Veteran's Home. This is the third Charleston Dragway Reunion and all three have been a benefit to help with caring for Ed. It's heartwarming to see all of these folks come out and show so much love and concern for one of their own who's been less fortunate. ‘Nuff said.

Had trouble hearing all that was said during the Awards Presentation so I missed the names of many of the recipients. But the 1320 Group was well represented with Mr. Gibbs, Mr. Inglis, and the absent in body but not in spirit "island dweller" himself, Mr. Bruce Wheeler (of Wheeler Dealer fame), all receiving Awards and applause from those in attendance. Good job, guys! Again I apologize for missing the names of the other recipients but from where I was standing it was impossible to hear what was being said.

Back to the bench racing, but one couldn't help but notice the blackening skies off in the horizon, soon followed by the sound of thunder, and everyone started to get a little antsy. BTW, I have forgotten to mention the HUGE turnout of Street Rods. Some without tops. This would explain the exodus for the gate at the first sound of thunder.

Helped Jack and Pat get the Topolino back on the trailer and said farewell just before the rains came. And rain it did, but hey, ya know what, a good bench race was never canceled due to rain. We all stayed dry in the pavilion. Got to meet a few more of the local characters while it was pouring, but once the rain stopped it was getting obvious that this event was winding down.

The "Shark" Corvette Funny Car was there and the crew made an attempt to fire it up before putting it in the trailer, but no luck. Maybe all the rain got something wet. Was looking forward to maybe a little whiff of NITRO (it's been since January, you know), but guess I'll have to wait until next weekend at Maple Grove.

Well, then seemed about as good a time as any to head south for Harrisburg. It was a long drive and the weather took a major turn for the worse. Time to put that Stevie Ray tape back on, but… changing the words around to say, "It's floodin' in Connecticut … and all the telephone lines are down" true or not, just doesn't have the same feel to it. More old B.S. later.

Badco

 

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