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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

The Toughest Nitro Car Owner

By Pat Foster

I have about as much experience with car owners as anyone, having driven for so many. The toughest? Big John Bateman, hands down. In 1970 or so we're at Capital Raceway in Maryland. We're towing back down the return road after a pass (with John's ramp truck). I'm in the race car with the body up. I've caught the eye of some dolly in the stands next to the return road. I smile, wave and try to signal her to meet me in the pits. For whatever reason, the truck stops. The hero race driver doesn't. I hit the back of the truck at about 25-30 mph -- big hit! When I look up, I'm looking right at John, who was riding on the rear of the truck.

Needless to say, I met no one in the pits that evening as we were on a l-o-n-g and very quiet (we're talking VERY quiet) tow back to Chicago. We arrive in Chi-town at night and go right to the Greek's shop. John drops me and a badly damaged Funny Car at the curb and says, "Call me in California when you get that shitbox fixed." With that, he and the guys drive off, headed for the coast. I have one suitcase, the clothes I'm wearing, and about 45 bucks. When Chris gets there at about 9 o'clock am, I tell him my sad story and he just laughs and says, "You better get busy, that thing looks to be hurt bad."

Thanks to Greek and some other guys I got the Maverick repaired and called John in about two weeks. Three days later he shows up with the truck, the guys, and Mark Susman -- his new driver. I'm sure glad that was the only time in my life that I've let a sweetheart impair my good judgment. Oh well -- stranded in Chicago, no ride, no money -- ain't it great being a hero race driver? NOT!

BTW -- Ended up in Roland's car for remainder of year -- and that's another owner story. I'm gonna drive onů



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