The Italian Way at the Gators
By Geno Terenzio
Because I have CRS (can't remember sh--, uh, stuff), I'm not sure what year it was, but it was the first time we ran an NHRA national event. We had been running the Italian Way as an AA/A before we went to this meet. We bought some old pistons and rods from Ron Scott, and put a small motor together to run BB/A. The record at that time was at a minimum, 8.45. We never ran this combo before. So here we were at the Gatornationals with a new-to-us setup. Anthony was driving. We built this car for him and he was really doing a good job at our local tracks with the AA/A set up. I still had the Let It Fly AA/A.
So anyway, we go out for our first qualifying run. Anthony loved to do these long hard burnouts. We back him up and I was standing next to Buster. Ant stages, Buster hits the switch, the tree comes down and BAM! He leaves like a rocket runs an 8.36. Holy cow! We were In Like Flynn. Buster looks at me and says, "Wow, that thing really left the line!" So we go down to get Ant and he tells us that he heard a noise. We get back to the pits and find a broken axle. We have a spare set but the holes aren't drilled for the bolt pattern of the wheels we have. So we take the thing apart and everyone is leaving the track. We don't have a drill with us and can't find one at the track. Vic and another guy go out looking for a drill.
They come back and they got one from someone. The guy who went with Vic tells me they went to Garlits' Hotel. Vic knocked on his door and Garlits says., "Who's there?" Vic says, "It's me, Vic Terenzio." Now, we don't even know Garlits at that time, so I thought that was pretty funny. Anyway, we get the car fixed and we won the first round. The guy red lighted and Ant shut it off to save the axles. The next round, we run Ohio George Montgomery. It's heads up. Ant put gate job and a half on him. At the 900-foot mark, he looks back and George is way back. Ant figures he can shut off and save the parts. The only thing is, this time our chute falls out and Ohio George's turbos kick in. The rest is history.
The following year, National Dragster ran a picture of our car with the chute out and Ohio George coming up on us to advertise the Gatornationals. Boy, talk about rubbing it in!