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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Broken Clutches and Push Starts

By Don Roberts

One Friday night at Norwood, Massachusetts, an 1/8-mile that New England Dragway leased for the 1968 season, I pulled out on the track. We pushed the Jack Doyle owned AA/GD down to fire for the final... just like always. But this time, one of the three fingers of the clutch had broken on the start. Would not disengage on the two remaining... no feel in the pedal... chugged to a stop... pissed. The next week there were three titanium fingers in that bitch, made at the General Electric plant in Lynn, Mass., on the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift by one of our crew guys. I had titanium before it was fashionable.

And on the rollers at Epping in 1972 or '73, I was in the King & Marshall, Garlits-chassis, rear engine car on a Wednesday night. In typical K & M fashion (Jeff Howe knows) they were late getting to the track...maybe 7:30 p.m. for an 8 p.m. first round. Running around like crazed fools. Over to the rollers. I hop in -- no helmet, jacket, nothing. Got the tires spinning on the rollers, let the clutch out, opened the throttle and closed it, and hit the mag switch to on... KABOOM! 

Along with a large orange ball of fire comes forward out of the pop-off valve in the front of the intake manifold and into the car giving me an extremely warm neck and horrible smelling burnt long hair. King had put the mag in wrong back at the shop. Jesus, that was warm. King put the mag in right and we started it, but this time I had my hat and jacket on. A good laugh at the restaurant later though, and now many years later.

Raced Jim Bucher in the Chevrolet that night...what a nice man.

Don Roberts


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