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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

More Old B.S.

 

Keep On Truckin' (Part 1)

 

King and Marshall AA/Fuel Dragster. Photo by Vic Cooke
King and Marshall AA/Fuel Dragster. Photo by Vic Cooke

 When Alexis Arguello gave Boom Boom a beating
seven weeks later he was back in the ring
Some have the speed and the right combinations
But if you can't take the punches
It don't mean a thing*

Westbound on I-70 somewhere in central Colorado with Denver in the rear view mirror and the majestic Rockies looming straight ahead, Sy (Sidebotham) and co-pilot Chuck Emanuel start to realize this segment of their journey might finally be winding down. According to Rand-McNally (or was that Charles Atlas?) the ride from Manchester , New Hampshire to Bakersfield , California is about 2980 miles.

So far, the beautiful white combination motor home/race car transporter has performed flawlessly... and the weather has been pretty co-operative... no problems with any state militia either. Yeah... this trip is gonna' be a piece of cake, right? Nothing for the two of them to do but ease back into the high back Captain's Chairs and enjoy the rest of this ride.

And man, what a ride. Next they'll be passing by Lakewood ... hey, wasn't that the name of a chassis/safety** component company out of Ohio ? Then on past Golden... you know, the beer place? Over Loveland Pass. .. I wonder what that's named after. Through the Eisenhower Tunnel... I'm pretty sure it's named after the ‘Father' of our Interstate Highway System (and our 34th president). Vail... winter time playground of the rich and fancy, is next as they start their descent down the Western Slope of the Rockies (and the Continental Divide) through Glenwood Springs, Rifle, and finally leaving Colorado just west of Grand Junction .

Entering Utah , the boys jump on I-15 at the edge of Fishlake National Forest , continue south to the Arizona border, where it's only about a 20 or so mile drive across the state to the Nevada line. Next stop... Vegas. Pick up a few souvenirs, gas up, and it's Westward Ho again. You know, I've read that trying to move Vegas in a ‘family oriented' direction just might be one of the biggest financial blunders of all time. Didn't sound like a good idea.

Awright! Back on the road again. In just a few hours they arrive in Barstow , Ca. Pick up highway 58 West, zip across the Mohave with its rich auto racing and fast/secret airplane history, over Tehachapi and its beautiful western slope. This is one of my favorite parts of the country to drive across... early in the morning with Lonnie Mack blasting out of the speakers... oh yeah. Hey, somewhere in here there IS a story about Drag Racing! But, you gotta get there first, right?

Next stop... Bakersfield . Or more precisely Meadows Field, known to many as Bakersfield International Airport . Hey, how many of you knew that James Dean (yes Virginia, THAT James Dean) raced his sports car right here at Meadows Field? Yep, back in ‘55 he drove his Porsche Speedster here in the old California Sports Car Club circuit...and with moderate success I might add. Anyway, what to hell are we doing here at the airport with the track just a few minutes away? Well... picking up the rest of the crew. Driver Tom Steed and his son Tim opted to fly out to the races. Heard from some eyewitnesses the transporter was quite a sight negotiating around the rental cars and the narrow lanes of the airport.

Finally arriving at the track early Thursday afternoon it's time to stake out a spot in the Dragster Pit area, park this baby, and unload it. And just what are they unloading? Well, how about the 1969 version of the Don Long built King and Marshall AA/FD? This white, blue, and gold beauty sports a Tom Hanna body and a NITRO burning ‘392 blown Chrysler Hemi. Originally built here on the west coast, this should almost be like a homecoming for this dragster. And considering the great lengths these guys have gone through just to get it here for this ‘02 version of the California Hot Rod Reunion, you know the Red Carpet will be rolled out, and they'll be treated with the respect they deserve.

Now back home at the New England Dragway the boys have already made a few 1/8th mile passes... full quarter mile shots are a no-no due to safety concerns, starting with that three point roll cage... pretty, but not up to today's five point specs. A .99 60 foot... a 3.0 330 foot... and a 3.9 1/8th mile times have been the best clockings as of this date. But, tell me, how cool would a framed timing slip from the famed Famoso Raceway look on the wall of the den?

Meanwhile back in California , the dragster is attracting a lot of attention just sitting there next to the transporter. The rest of this day is spent on routine maintenance as well as applying a little ‘spit and polish'. Tomorrow it'll roar to life and make a pass down this fabled quarter mile, and none too soon either. Driver Tom Steed has been anxiously awaiting the chance to make the one more pass needed to re-new his Top Fuel license. The whole crew is really looking forward to tomorrow.

Friday morning dawned bright and sunny... not a cloud in the sky, no winds, high barometer readings, low humidity... damn good Drag Racing weather. How about an early morning warm up just to get things started right? Now  old' Sky's had a lot of experience tuning these NITRO motors, and has this baby cackling and stinging eyes with the best of ‘em. Looks like the East Coast is being well represented this weekend. By the time Sy gave Tom the sign to shut it down, a good sized crowd had gathered to check out this newest addition to the gang of assembled Knights of the Quarter.

Friday afternoon couldn't roll around fast enough for the boys. Push the digger into the growing crowd... hook the tow line up to the ATV... and make their way up to the staging lanes. Finally... the guys reach the front of the line. “Hey... we're next!” Yes sir... one more pair of cars down the track... then the K & M car will come to life... and Tom will finally get his license updated... yep, life is good. Everyone around here is smiling.

Except for this one guy. Wearing a red and white Track Official shirt and giving the car and crew a hard stare... he seems intrigued by something on the engine. He asks Sy a question about the blower restraint as he shakes his head. Seems he doesn't like the way the restraint is tied off.

And one other thing. About Tom's license... he's only got TWO passes on his update... gotta have a Top Fuel license to make a pass here.

“Right you are” was the reply “that's why we're here... to make that final pass.”

“But you don't understand” he answered back “You can't make a pass with this license.”

“That's right sir, we're up here to make that third pass and complete the license update”

“But I repeat again, without an updated license... you can't make a pass.”

It wasn't too hard to see where this was headed. Two years spent restoring this beauty, towing it almost three thousand miles to be part of this event... only to be turned back about twenty five feet from the starting line. I don't think I've ever seen a more dejected look than the one Tom was wearing as they turned the car around and towed it back into the pits. What a sad sight. The guys were totally devastated at the thought of having to pack up and head back East... with absolutely nothing to show for their efforts.

Enter Steve Gibbs. Time for cooler heads and sharper minds to prevail. “Heck, just make a few changes to that restraint and hell... Tom has gotta make a pass SOMEWHERE to top that license off.” So, by the time all of this finally gets straightened out, and repairs are completed, it's too late to make a pass. Ah well, there's always tomorrow.... to be continued.

More old B.S. later.

 

Badco
badco@comcast.net

Bill Ott -- proud member of the Standard 1320 group.

*© Warren Zevon Music
"Boom Boom Mancini"

**Joe Schubeck's Lakewood Mfg. Co.

Thanks Bud  

Read Part Two Here

 

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