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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Along the Match Race Trail

By Rhonda Strickland

Traveling along the match race trail with my dad, Jr. Thompson, is one of my most endearing memories. I remember one summer in 1976 when my dad was doing the summer match race thing from the Midwest to the East. This one weekend we left midday on a Thursday to head out of Indiana to two 4-car shows in New York & Canada. My dad was running his bitchin' Corvette BB/Funny Car and we were traveling with a couple other cars. I only remember that one was Norm Day running his Don Garlits sponsored funny car & maybe the Tree City Shaker. My memory is fading. We traveled with lots of racers like Frank Hawley, Rick Roshto, Fred Mandoline, and many others so it's hard to remember. 

We got to Buffalo and raced at this circle track sectioned off for the quarter mile. Not a real safe place. The Christmas tree was at the end of one of the curves with an 8-foot cement wall on one side. The fans were very unruly and kept jumping onto the track. We got to see Niagara Falls and it was beautiful. It was the Bicentennial year and I was excited to see parts of the USA I hadn't seen before and Canada. We left there, crossed into Canada, and headed through Montreal. It was very exciting here also, as it was the year that the Olympics were being held there. Lots of activity. 

We headed way out town and traveled to a gorgeous little town called Ponte Rouge. There was a drag strip WAY out in the country and when we arrived, we didn't think we would have much of a crowd. Well, we were wrong; the place filled up quickly. I don't remember who won the races, or how fast they went or anything else about the races themselves. What I do remember is hearing the races being announced in French. And all the fans coming up and asking about the cars in French. I couldn't understand a thing except of course when they said the names of the racers. It was just neat to know that here we were in a tiny town in the French Canadian region and there were drag fans just as into the racing as anywhere. It showed me that drag racing wasn't just an American sport. It was multi-national. 

Now many years later, checking out all the web sites, it amazes me to see how many people love auto sports. I am very proud that my dad was one of the "founding fathers" of the sport of drag racing. Little did he know when he started racing his car for fun in the 50s that it would come so far today.

Rhonda Strickland


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