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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

More Memories of John Wenderski

By Dave Wallace

I'm really enjoying your ever-growing site. Nice job!

Was surprised and pleased to see Pat Foster's too-brief mention of a day with the late John Wenderski. Perhaps "Sidney" could be persuaded to provide more insight about his former roommate?

Wenderski was a local hero in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles proper. Long John went from a dominating, 409-powered '62 Impala A/Stocker directly to Top Fuel -- unheard of, in those days when dragster drivers actually had to be DRIVERS (long before the Frank Hawley Graduate Era). For some reason, Wenderski's track-record speed at San Fernando Raceway is still etched in my mind: 193.12 m.p.h. Perhaps it's because I was about 13 years old at the time, and John was the first person I ever knew who died. Another thing I'll never forget is the phone call late one Sunday night from photographer Tim Marshall, informing my dad and me of the crash.

I believe that John still held Fernando's track record the day he drove off the side of Ramona Raceway, near San Diego, under power, and into a pole in the pit area, if I recall correctly. Reasons given for the freak accident ranged from stuck throttle to suicide.

Drag Racing Online magazine recently ran a wonderful old photo of Wenderski, riding back down the return road of The Frog Pond, being pushed by partner Ron Winkel's matching-black-and-silver 1960 El Camino. The photo accompanied the My First Time feature written by Chris Martin. Your readers might want to check DRO's archives for a story and photo well worth viewing.


Click HERE to see the Drag Racing Online article Dave mentioned. bp


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