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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

The FIRST Successful Rear Engine Dragster,
Revisited

By Ted Pappacena

Was Bernie Shacker the first successful rear engine dragster? Photo by Ted Pappacena
Was Bernie Schacker the first successful rear engine dragster? 
Photo by Ted Pappacena

I just finished reading the Story of the day for September 9 about the "First Successful Rear Engine Dragster." It is very interesting but was that car truly the first successful one? I beg to differ. In early 1970, a rear engine dragster debuted on Long Island. It was totally built by Bernie Schacker. It had a supercharged hemi engine. The body was hand built out of aluminum. The car raced at New York National Speedway as well as other tracks in the Northeast. I first saw it at the AHRA Springnationals on May 24, 1970. 

It also raced at the Bakersfield Smokers race held at New York National that same year. At that race, a fellow racer by the name of Don Garlits was in attendance. He looked the car over for about an hour. He even sat in it! The car was the first rear engine dragster in he 6s. Ah, but was that the first truly successful car of the genre? What defines success -- campaigning, setting low E T, or winning? 

Or was Duane Ong's Pawnbroker the first successful rear engine dragster? Photo by Ted Pappacena
Or was Duane Ong's Pawnbroker the first successful rear engine dragster? 
Photo by Ted Pappacena

If it is winning you want, how about Duane Ong's Pawnbroker? It too debuted about the same time as Schacker's. Whereas Schacker had the wing in the back, Ong's car had two vertical fins located over the rear wheels. His was powered by a blown hemi, too. He too raced at the 1970 Smokers meet. He raced at the AHRA Nationals at New York National on August 30, 1970, where guess who also raced? Duane Ong won that race, the first rear engine dragster to win a national event. I am sending two photos I took at those races.

Thanks.

Ted Pappacena
Nitroblues@Juno.com

 

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