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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Having Fun with Mr. C

By "Big Gene" Townley

I was at the Dollar General Store the other day. Liquor store is next door. This guy comes out of the liquor store and has a case of Boone's Farm wine. I told Glenna, "There's my next story."

In 1971 I was with Mr. C -- Gary Cochran -- and one of the races we went to was an AHRA Grand American at Marion County International Raceway in Marion, Ohio. We got in town on Thursday and went to the Holiday Inn. Most of the regulars were already there. There was a big area in front and that is where we all parked. Some of them were working on their cars, so we made the rounds. When we got to Jim Nicoll's rig, we found Nicoll, T.C. Lemmons, John Wiebe, and "Mad Dog" Don Cook there, drinking Boone's Farm Wild Mountain out of paper cups. They gave us some and we all sat on the grass. We finally ran out and Nicoll said, "Big Gene, we need some more. I will buy if you go get it." Gary's rig was still hooked up, so Nicoll said, "Take mine." Wiebe said, "Bring back a bunch of ice."

I got in the truck and went to a super market where they told me the only place to buy wine was at the state owned liquor store. I found one and went in. They told me that since I was not a resident and did not have a card, I couldn't buy any. I found a guy, told him my problem, and said I would give him $10 to get me some wine. He was a nice guy and said he would do it for free. I told him that since it was so hard to get, get me two cases. I got my wine and ice, and back I went.

When I got back, Wiebe got a wash tub out of his trailer. We put the wine in it, then the ice and some water. We all sat around and talked tune-ups and other things about the cars. These guys who ran the AHRA circuit were different; there was not a selfish person among them. They helped each other, loaned each other parts, and at the races worked on each other's cars -- a lot like this family here.

I don't know how long, but after a while this bus pulls in and it says "Loretta Lynn" on it. This guy walks over to look at the cars, so we offer him some wine. Turns out it is Moony Lynn -- Loretta's husband. He sat down. In a little while, Loretta walks over. He introduces us and we give her a cup. She only stayed a little while but old Moony stayed a long time.

The next morning we head out to the track and on the way, we go by this giant Maytag plant. I mean this place was grim -- it looked like a prison to me. I looked over at Gary and he said, "Are you thinking the same as me?" I said, "You mean, what would it be like to work at this place for 30 years?"

We ran the race -- I think Garlits won -- and after the race was over, the owners threw a party for us at their brother's place across from the track. Beer, food -- it was a neat deal.

They had a couple of outdoor toilets but after several hours, they got pretty bad. I saw one of the owners coming out of the house and I asked him if I could use his bathroom. He said sure, go down this hall, first door on the left. I went in, opened the door, and the first thing I saw was four guys with more money than I had ever seen on a table. Then I see this great big guy who was with Jim Tice all the time pointing a sawed off shotgun at me. Tice jumped up and said, "Hold it. I know him and he is OK." He asked me what I wanted. I said his brother told me I could use the bathroom. He said, "No problem; it's that door behind you," and I left.

I told Pete Talmage, the starter, what had happened. He said I was probably real lucky the guy didn't pull the trigger because he had done it before. After a while this big guy comes out, puts the money in the trunk of a Cadillac, and drives off. I went out of my way to see him at the next race and he turned out to be a nice guy.

BIG GENE TOWNLEY

 

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