The sport of Drag Racing has come a long way from my first introduction.
Capitol Dragway, Spring of 1970, Ronnie Sox in the Sox and Martin
"Boss" Cuda taking on "Dyno" Don Nicholson and his
Maverick. Here at this small track in the countryside of Maryland, a Drag
Racing tradition of paid match race appearances was the lifeblood of the
sport. The intimacy of a small track, a small group of dedicated fans, and a
couple of Drag Racing's superstars made for a day of racing that forever
would color my view of the sport. I have been called a "Luddite,"
"backwards," and "out of date" in different forums as I've
lamented the loss of match racing by the touring pros. In this series of
pictures, I will lay out my case as to why what little match racing is left
is important to the future of our sport.
Another title for this series could be "Dave ‘n'..." This
first pic was taken last year at Lebanon Valley where against all odds, two
touring pros came out to the country where trees and hills replaced mass
media and Top Eliminator seats, and about 4,000 moms, dads ‘n' kids got
a chance to experience Nitro burners first hand. Dave poses reluctantly for
his Dad, as Jerry Toliver signed autographs for a small circle of fans.
"Dad! Hurry up, I wanna go talk to Jerry Toliver." Awfully hard to
get this kind of access at a national event.
A few years back, Dean Skuza and Del Worsham made the tow up to New
England to earn a little match racing dough. Again, a great group of
families, who would never be able to afford the cost of an NHRA national
event, were treated to a pretty good show, and a level of access to the two
drivers that would be impossible at the larger races. Dean stops for a
minute not only to pose for a picture with Dave, but also to have a pretty
cool chat with him. Someone close by (who I wish I could thank again)
produced a Dean Skuza rookie card and gave it to Dave. Dean signed it and
earned a fan for life. This race is also where Dave got his first snootfull
Dennis Roslansky has found the Internet a good source for help when he
needs a crew. When Dennis said he was coming to our part of the country, I
jumped at the chance to help him out. Dave, my brother in law, his son, and
I assisted (or hindered) Dennis for a night match race. Dave still talks
with pride about being a Jet Car crewmember. Dennis gave Dave a
"Crossfire" T-shirt and autographed it: "Thanks for all your
help." It remains one of Dave's prized possessions. Again, match
racing afforded a regular Joe and his kid an opportunity that would be
doubtful in a national event setting.
As part of the "Super Chevy" tour, "Big Daddy" brings
his trailer and a car from the museum to display. While Dave knows that I
consider "Big" to be the best to ever don a fire suit, I don't
think he'll appreciate this photo as much as I do until he's older.
Without a doubt one of my favorite pictures! The opportunity came about
because the Super Chevy Races are not run in front of 60,000 fans, but fill
a void by bringing the Nitro Coupes to some of Drag Racing's mid sized
markets. If Drag Racing is to continue to grow, it needs TV for sure, but it
also needs this kind of one on one contact from it's heroes to the younger
fans. My opinion.
LONG LIVE MATCH RACING!