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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

CHRR – Hoping to Recapture the Magic

By Bill Pratt

I'm flying to the California Hot Rod Reunion this weekend, and I'm hoping for a second honeymoon. Anyone who reads this website knows that drag racing is a major part of my life, but I have a different, more businesslike feeling about it than I did 20 years ago. Somewhere along the way, I lost the "magic" and hopefully the CHRR is just the tonic I need. 

I'm 42 and I was lucky to be a teenager in those wild 1970s, when Funny Car racing was at its peak. I enjoyed match races at my home tracks of Dragway 42 and Thompson Drag Raceway. I then joined the Navy and got stationed in San Diego for a year in 1977. I made my way up to OCIR every chance I got -- sometimes with no earthy idea how I was going to get back! I used to enjoy the show, then start to get butterflies in my stomach towards the end... trying to work up the courage to ask one of the teams for a ride back to San Diego. 

I missed 'em all one night... my last chance was John Collins in the number two ‘Goose car. I hit the gate and started walking, about to hitchhike to San Diego at about 2:00 a.m. Luckily for me, there was a guy in a pickup truck who got there too late to get in. He had just had a fight with his girlfriend, so he grabbed a 12 pack and headed to the drags. He said, "Get in." We cruised around Orange County, talking it out and drinking beers. Finally, he dropped me off at the local Greyhound station. I guess I got back some time the next morning or something...can't remember. 

All I can say is that drag racing held the sort of magic for me back then that I would take off totally without any idea of how to get back just to see one of those funny car shows. I still love it, but a lot of the mystery and magic is gone. I know it's partly because I grew up, but I also know it's because drag racing's not the same, either. I'm hoping the California Hot Rod Reunion will help me reclaim some of that magic.

Bill Pratt


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