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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Buster & the Reverser

by Don Roberts

Freedom Machine 1971

Although Freedom Machine owner Tom Dawes was working out west in one of the family business concerns, he wanted to see the car raced whenever possible. In his absence, Charlie Siegars took care of the car and I drove quite a few races in 1971, filling in for regular driver O.J. McKinney.

One of the races I drove was the first NHRA Grandnational race at Sanair, St Pie, Quebec. Dawes had invested some money in B & J Transmissions in the early going, and one-day a box shows up at the shop with a note that said, "Try this and tell me what you think." It was a brand new reverser, maybe B & J's first one, I don't know. The funny cars had been backing up for years, and the top fuelers were trying to hold on with a similar show with starters and reversers, but this was 1971 and but for the Pro Fuel circuit cars on the east coast, there were not too many cars that could back up. So, we put the reverser in the Freedom Machine and head for Sanair.

The first qualifying run on Friday we get to the burnout box and Siegars gets me where he wants me, and tells me to go. The reverser worked fine on the warm-up in the pits, so I have no problem making a long burnout, a very long burnout. As I am being hero racer with the big burnout, little do I know the activity going on behind me on the starting line. After I stopped from the burnout I sat there for a moment and made sure it went into reverse OK, and Chief Starter Buster Couch goes over to Siegars and says, "Ain't you gonna go get him?" Siegars looks at him and says, no. Buster was pissed and was ready to send the starting line crew out to get me, when I start backing up.

When I get back behind the starting line Buster comes over to the car and I look up and I see this huge arm with a huge hand with a pointed finger coming at me with a statement loud enough I could hear even with the motor running, "Don't do that again!" Buster Couch laughed about this at the end of the day, after we went over and said we were sorry for the long burnout.

This shot is from Epping July 1971, and on the back of the pic I wrote "First run 6.70 215 mph." Nice car, great people, and a place in time I'll never forget.


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