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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Cruisin' with My Heroes

by Bill O'Neal

My friends were the Carter family of Covina, California. Texas Top Fuel racers, the Carroll Bros., were cousins of the elder Carter Bros., Archie and Alvie Carter. Each year, right before the Winternationals, they would show up at Archie's house on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. One day, Hearl Carter and I left school in my hot rodded 50 Olds Rocket 88 and went to Carter's house. My eyes popped out of my head as some of my heroes' dragsters were lined up at the curb and in the driveway. You can maybe imagine my surprise to see Sneaky Pete Robinson's car, Don Garlits, the Carroll Bros. car, and Connie Kalitta's car all parked at Carter's house!

As Hearl and I pulled up the driveway towards the house -- with my headers ticking away with that pinging sound that only a bad set of homemade headers makes with bad gaskets, my cam rumbling, and my Art Carr prepped hydro downshifting -- they all came bailing out of the den where they were BS'ing over a few Coors to see what pulled in. After hearing how most of them all started drag racing in various Oldsmobiles, some just like mine, my heart was pounding with the thought of just being with these guys and it was really a surprise that they wanted to look under the hood.

My whole world was changed over the next few minutes. A couple of them wanted to go for a ride! Badillo Street at that time was a place where we made many passes, testing our latest modifications. And Carter lived on Badillo Street.

A block down from Carter's house was a stop sign and past it was a section that had no side streets and fields on both sides. I pulled up to the stop sign, firmly planting the brake peddle with my left foot, brought the RPMs up to about 3K, and floored it. Moving all of 10 feet forward, the trans shifted to 2nd and the rear tires lit up and we were gone, headed for 3rd and finally, after forever, 4th.

The Olds had run a 13.24 et at Fontana a short time earlier and I was scared stiff that these guys were going to laugh their collective butts off at me. To my surprise, they thought it was so cool to ride in what they described as "their roots" and that it was much quicker than they remembered their old Oldsmobiles to be. My feet finally touched the ground again about a week later! I was one proud teenager! I was a volunteer pit member for Don Garlits over the next couple of days. That was back when Don had some support from Dodge. He had an ugly black 4-door Dodge truck with a utility bed and an open trailer. This was considered by others to be what was later called "styling."

Bill O'Neal

Author's note: I wrote this from memory (a bad memory at that, being I went through the 60's, 70's, and Viet Nam!) I believe it to be accurate though, but possibly, at least one of those racers was there the year before or after, I can't really remember just who of those guys was present that particular day. Although I believe I got the memory straight, it would be embarrassing if one of those guys said he'd never been to Archie Carter's house. Ah, the risks of telling old stories from memory! I guess my memory will be tested if I'm wrong. Hearl is dead, or I'd ask him to verify my account to make sure I got it straight. I would feel better knowing it was accurate to the last detail...

Bill O'Neal

 

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