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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Tax Day: The Nostalgia DragFest 2000

By Bill Ott ©2000

April the 15th again, is it? The day your average prognosticator longs for... the infamous put up or shut up day ...another chance to "volunteer" your fair share. But wait... had the taxes done YESTERDAY, and am even "getting a little" back this year. So, armed with this knowledge

I'll rise with a smile this morning, pour a cup, move to the front porch, grab the morning paper (‘gotta keep up with the latest from the Gonzales clan and catch up on how much my stocks lost yesterday) and gaze at the poor souls lined up in front of the Tax preparer's office across the street.

Seems like a crappy way to start off the weekend, but we all choose the paths we follow. I think I'll follow the path that leads to Dauphin (Pa.) this morning. Yep, it's time once again for the annual get-together of some of the East Coast's most hard core Drag Race Nostalgia fans... followers... nuts.... whatever. I'm damned proud to count myself among the group that makes this yearly Pilgrimage to Bruce Larson's Stony Creek Barn. Yes sir, a little bit of Drag Racing Nirvana right here in central Pa., that's long overdue. Hell, I ain't even sniffed any NITRO since back in October!!!

But first I ‘gotta go meet the G-Man, he's not familiar with this area and this ‘ol truck driver assured him we won't get lost...after all, Dauphin consists of a bar/restaurant, a Laundromat, a gas station, and a Hardee's, who could get lost in a place like this I ask you? Who? Why a truck driver, that's who!

Seems there's been some construction going on since my last visit and the old road into town doesn't exist any more. No problem, we'll just take that back road that runs right by the bar/restaurant and get us some breakfast. Wrong! ... the back road is closed for construction approximately 25 feet from the parking lot of the bar/restaurant. Hey, no problem, we'll just make a U turn, drive all the way across town, make another U turn, Drive the OTHER way across town, make ANOTHER U turn get on the back road and come out on the right side of the bar/restaurant this time.

The bartender told us they weren't serving breakfast today, but he'd be glad to pour us a beer and heat up a couple of wieners, and besides, there's plenty of popcorn left over from last night. Used to be a time that would have sounded like damn good breakfast cuisine, but not any more. Another trip across town to Hardee's. Seems like it's hard to find good help these days….

Actually found someone in a fast food place that refused to sell me a carton of milk! Told me there was plenty of creamers for my coffee at the fixins' bar….couldn't make him understand I just wanted a glass of milk!

Hey, did I mention Trout season? Yep, starts April the 15th in these parts. Bruce calls his place "The Stony Creek Barn" because (oddly enough) it's on Stony Creek Road, a narrow two lane that happens to run right along (you guessed it) Stony Creek… and you can stand on the edge of the road and cast right into the middle of the creek. Made for an interesting drive, what with the crowd of fishermen along one side of the road and all the pickups and 4x4's parked along the other.

Ah! There it is, a couple of hundred feet North of the creek, at the top of a rolling green hill. The old white barn where the former World Champion Funny Car driver maintains a business and a small auto museum that would make ‘ol P.T. Barnum proud. Only no two-headed calves or other freaks of nature here, just a cool collection of old and new funny cars all driven by Mr. Larson himself.

How about the Sentry Tachs and Gauges '89 World Champ Olds in one corner. Across from that you'll find a magenta metal flake '66 Cobra Dragonfly. Next to that, one of the baddest looking ‘Vette Funny Cars ever, flanked on it's left by the beautiful USA 1 Camaro, a burned out body and another cool ‘Vette both mounted side by side on a wall. Surround all of this with an assortment of NITRO parts (some intact, some broken), books, magazines, models, and other memorabilia, some of it in display cases and some of it just sitting piled in the corners. And on this particular day, three VCRs downstairs and a slide show upstairs in the loft. Glad to be here!

After parking the car, it's time to get started! Heading for the door, I see my old pal Mike

(Mashie) Mihalko wandering around. Mashie's a freelance photographer from the central Pa. area, who used to wander around SoCal in the sixties, now he teaches science at a middle school. We decided we'll both be attending a few more of these things this year.

The main entrance into the barn takes you through the offices where Bruce conducts his daily business, (the design and installation of lightning arrestors for buildings). Hanging around to get registered we ran into Brian Kuhlman, who brought along some cool videos but left the Mr. Norm car at home. Too bad, might have been fun to make a pass out front and wake up the trout…and some of the fishermen.

Once inside, the first of order of business, like always…check out the cars. Hey, isn't that Bill Pratt and his brother Tim checking out the USA 1 Camaro? Bill seems to keep pretty busy between family, work, running draglist.com, and a weekend gig at M.I.R. behind a mike. Tim mentioned that Draglist.com has links to over 5,300 sites! Way to go Bill and crew, and thanks for the bumper sticker.

While checking out Glenn Gualtieri's extensive Jungle Jim memorabilia collection, I got in a conversation with two younger guys, who really seemed to be into this stuff. Turns out one of them is our own (1320 Standard Group) Randy Moyer, son of the beloved " Jungle Jim " himself.

Struck up a conversation with Jim Corrigan who recently purchased an old Dragmaster Chassis (the later style, without the parallelogram type front, maybe called a Dart?) and is getting started researching the history of it. Quite a few names were tossed around as possible original owners…Jack Kulp and Gaines & Maurino among them. ‘Gotta keep up with this project. Still remember the first time I saw Kulp's Dragmaster… real lo-o-o-ng! An impressive site in those days of 90" wheelbase dragsters. It was a beauty, too! Joe Nocentino may have been a partner with Jack on this one. Any car Joe was involved with was nice. Both of these gentlemen are gone now.

Passing by one of the VCRs, couldn't help but notice what appeared to be an extremely professionally produced movie featuring two Funny Cars from the "correct" era, match racing. The movie was called Fast Company and John Saxon was one of the stars. Never saw or heard of this one before, but what I saw of it wasn't too bad, considering the bad rap Drag Racing usually got from Hollywood.

While on a Hollywood kick, Bikini Beach will be on AMC tonight at 10:00 EST. Great Drag Racing footage rolled into an absolutely horrible movie. I even felt sorry for Don Rickles while watching this turkey!

Hey look!…walking in the door…is it a bird?…is it a plane?…No!! It's Jim Amole, former tin man at S & W Racecars and perhaps (in my opinion) the Right coast's foremost authority on Drag Racing days past. Jim ran an unblown fueler back in the sixties and is sitting on the finest collection of old books, magazines, handouts, catalogs, etc. this side of the Mississippi, and once again Jim brought a small part of his incredible collection with him, and was kind enough to share it with the G-Man and myself.

After lunch, we all assembled in the back room for the door prize drawings and announcements. One sad note, though, was the passing earlier this year of Ray English – historian, photographer, and video producer extraordinaire. He was one of the organizers of the first Barnfest, and was instrumental in getting yours truly, for one, interested in dusting off the old photos, and getting out and sharing them with others. Up until then, I thought I was the only one interested in this stuff. Thanks again Ray – Ray.

After a moment of silence came the door prizes…. I was lucky enough to win a Hill & Zartman T-shirt… anyone remember the "Filthy Forty"? Still waiting for that Cobra to be among the door prizes...maybe next year? How about it, Bruce?

Sat down and had a nice visit with George Weiler… remember watching George run his old Competition Coupe "Smarty Pants" at Atco while I was still in High School! Remember watching him set a B/D National record at York, too. But still, my fondest recollection of George is of watching him trade flirts with Linda Vaughn at the Midwest HRR. George campaigns a Pro Stocker today.

Missing in action were Bob Plumer and Joel Naprstek. Was looking forward to hearing Joel talk about things over on thoity thoid and thoid streets. Maybe next year. Hey, Elvis dropped

by again (actually Ronnie Allen) and someone parked a cool '49 Merc Sled by the front door.

Made it down to "The Basement" and checked out the progress on Bruce's Olds powered ‘32 Ford that he used to own about thirty years ago and just recently recovered. It's got a long way to go, but any project that Bruce is involved with will be done right.

Bruce is a class act and I would like to thank him once again for opening up his barn for all of us. Also a big thanks to both Dave Heisey and Dick Gerwer for doing all of the legwork on this thing, it was another success! A lot more fun than filling out tax forms. More old B.S. later.



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