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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

The Montana Nationals

By Fred Vosk

A story from my brief encounter with one of them "Travelin' Javelin" deals... I call it 'The Montana Nationals.' I might have been part of the first time FCs ran in Montana. It was in '68 or '69 at a really funky strip at Great Falls. We took two cars, Kenny Martin's '65 'Vette (Chev powered) and (the Dreaded) Can-Am Scorpion (loved that name!) run by Larry Palmer, or as I called him, 'Scorp.' I was working on the 'Javelin' (Scorpion) on that 'trip' although after that, I joined up with Kenny Martin and we built a killer '69 Vette. High %, stock stroke '26' - direct drive, ultra light. Won a lot with that dude... 

Anyway, back to Great Falls. Can't remember who won. I think we both made all three rounds though. I do remember a display we did at the local shopping mall on Saturday. Man, that place was really 'down home.' Everybody had those 'Hubcap belt buckles,' even the girls (or 'Gals,' as they called them). The whole deal was a lot like walking into a 'Yosemite Sam' cartoon. We were sitting there in the mall with the cars and the locals were bringing us booze. I guess that's how they welcome you to Montana. Not like drinks in glasses (or even paper cups) -- they were bringing us bottles! (Mostly Vodka or Whiskey). We ended up with all of it because Kenny and his guys were Mormons. (Hey, were they fun to drink with or what?). And the folks who came to our little show at the mall were great. 

I especially remember one kid. He looked like 'Little Abner.' Asked us all about the cars and then proceeded to tell us about his Uncle from 'Up Haver Way' (we later found out that 'Haver' was a town). So his Uncle was an engineer (train) and drove a locomotive with over ten or twenty thousand horsepower or something. After he helped us with 4 or 5 of the bottles of Vodka, he couldn't remember how many HP either. He invited us to come 'Up Haver Way' after the race, but we had to pass. Had to get back to the real world before they pulled our citizenship. Heard about people who went 'Up Haver Way' and were never seen again! Later found out 'Haver' is actually spelled 'Havre' (how French). Little did I suspect that Montana is actually a part of France. (Now I understand where the 'Unabomber' was coming from). No wonder it took so long to drive there...

Little did I know French was a 'second language' in Montana... The strip we ran at was a little ways outta town, maybe up a hill (I think the strip was). I remember the pits were really small and crowded -- kinda like chaos! I also remember that after the race we stopped at a 'roadhouse' (big Tavern) by a river (?), drank beer, and listened to a western band (what a surprise!) Another big night of drinking with 'Kenny and the Mormons.' It was a lotta fun though. Between the local racers and the cowboys at the bar (and all them big blond wimmin' with the hair piled up on top of their heads who laughed real loud), nobody'd let us pay for a beer or anything else all night. 'Right Nice Folks.' (Cooked a great steak, too). Even the Mormons had a bunch of fun. I don't think non-alcoholic beer had been invented yet (certainly not in Montana), so they stuck to Lemonade. Or at least that's what they said it was...

Fred Vosk


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