Simpson's First Drag Chutes
By Tom Jobe
We started racing our dragster about the same time that Bill Simpson started his original business. We bought the second drag chute that Bill Simpson ever made, and we were the first to actually run one of his chutes. Simpson worked at the movie studios as a "grip" during the day and had just started his business in his garage working at night.
At the time, the freeways of Southern California were being built, and they would open short sections as they were completed. Simpson had a little Renault "Dauphine" that he used for his early chute testing. He would go out late at night on a newly opened piece of what is now the 405, get going as fast as that thing would go, and throw the chute out the window. He had some failures, but the first time it all sort of worked properly, it ripped the back end off his Renault!
We would run our dragster every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, and then show up on his doorstep on Sunday evening with it in shreds. He dreaded answering the door because he knew it was us, he would rant and rave for awhile, but would give it another try after we calmed him down a bit. This went on week after week and pretty soon we, and many others, had a very good chute to use.
Mention has been made about drum brakes being marginal. We used stock early "Olds" drum brakes with "Velvetouch" metallic brake linings on our original dragster. We had zero brake problems for the whole time we ran the car. Actually, the early "disc" brakes were way more scary in my opinion.