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