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*
Saturday morning started with another spectacular sunrise and a weather
forecast promising a repeat of yesterday's conditions. After another
early morning warm up of the old Hemi, another few more minor adjustments
all Sy and the boys have to do is wait for the first Top Fuel qualifying
session to end. Then they'll get their chance to make that long awaited
They sure made a pretty sight sitting there on the starting line... the
old digger with the late model Corvette push car. Finally... we have
ignition. Man, that Chrysler sure sounds crisp as Sy carefully guides Tom
into the starting line beams. After a quick flash of orange and then green
from the tree, the King and Marshall dragster is finally on its way.
Looked like a pretty good 1/8th-mile pass from where I was standing, but I
didn't hear any times announced after the pass. Must have been all that
noise from the other racecars.
Arriving back at the boys pit area just as the post race tear down
ritual is just getting started my first question is "What did it
run?" "No idea." was the reply. Due to some sort of a
technical snafu... no times were recorded. Wow, if it wasn't for bad
luck, these guys wouldn't have any luck at all! Still Sy kept smiling
and trying to keep everyone's spirits up. Besides, there's that
CackleFest coming up in a while and ol' Sy's got to get busy on the
wicked tune up he has in mind for cacklin' time.
The CackleFest got started a little later than has been the standard
practice the last few years. It's all going to take place in the dark
this time around. Besides the usual sounds from the "Cacklers"
(or would that be "Cacklees"?) we'll be treated to a bit of a
pyrotechnics show as well. I found myself a good spot to watch the
festivities at about mid track (pit side) with some friends.
Once again I've got to comment on what an overwhelming thing this
CackleFest is. This time I believe there were thirty something racers
participating. Kings of the sport all... some were repops of famous old
race cars either destroyed long ago or lost in the shuffle over the
years... some all originals from back in the ‘Glory Days'... all an
awesome sight this Saturday evening.
I watched the K & M car pass by somewhere about ‘mid pack' and
immediately my attention was diverted to the rest of the cars being pushed
down the return road, as well as the cars that were assembling out on the
track. It was another minute or two when I realized the K & M digger
wouldn't be too hard to pick out from the others out there. Matter of
fact, quite a few of the folks in my general vicinity were pointing right
at it. Must have been the cherry red headers that were attracting all of
Now Sy did mention something earlier about "leaning the barrel
valve down maybe a turn and a half," but this... Wow... those
white-coated headers were glowing in the dark! Turned out that's what he
had in mind all along. Sure looked cool!
O.K. Now that we've got the Cacklefest under our belts, it's time
for the Big Show a.k.a. The Ring of Fire. Now this is another giant leap
into madness as somewhere around fifty race cars park in a huge circle out
on the track and somewhere around thirteen hundred and twenty demented
people stand in the middle of this circle. Hey... if you gotta ask why...
you wouldn't understand!
Now Sy has a different thing in mind for this deal "something
maybe a whole lot ‘fatter' than the earlier tune up." But it's
‘gonna be equally as spectacular he promised. He was right... a whole
lot of flames (and NO red headers) this time.
As soon as this deal wound down, Sy, Tom, and the whole rest of the
crew were getting pretty wound down themselves. So far... what a long
strange trip it's been, but it ain't quite over yet. No sir. As the
"Ring" came to an end the crowd that had been up until now
standing in the center of things, moved closer to the cars for just one
more up close look.
By now Tom had been sitting in the cramped quarters of the dragster for
quite a while and couldn't wait to get out. He hit the button on the ‘quick
disconnect' Butterfly wheel (back in '69 when Mr. Long built the
chassis he had Mark Williams put together what was literally a ‘one off'
steering wheel for some of his cars). Next Tom placed the wheel down on
one of the slicks and climbed out of the car. After the exiting maneuver
was complete Tom turned to retrieve the wheel... but. No wheel. Hey, bet
it fell on the ground right? Wrong. The wheel was gone... vanished...
kaput. A frantic search all around the car ensued, but nothing. Once again
Tom's got a totally sick look on his face. Can you blame him?
Enter Tony Guida. Tony had come all the way from Warren, R. I. to be
with the guys and had been video taping everything, including Tom's exit
from the car. A quick rewind of the tape showed a huge guy with equally
huge tattoos... grabbing up the wheel and disappearing into the crowd!
Here goes that, "if it wasn't for bad luck" thing once again.
A quick run up to the tower to ask that this story be broadcast over
the PA was about the only plan the boys could come up with. Maybe it would
As the word went out over the PA and by word of mouth through the
crowd... it didn't go unnoticed by the Security guys. As a matter of
fact, the guys watching the crowd leaving through the Main Gate observed a
young (hey, if you want to, you can supply your own adjective here) lady
leaving with a large chrome object sticking out of her coat. When asked
what it was, she replied, "A steering wheel for a dragster."...
yeah, what else? When asked where it came from she replied "I found
it! again, what else would you expect her to say?
She was informed that if she surrendered the wheel and disappeared
before the count of ‘one' this whole incident would be forgotten. She
did and it was.
Now, what to do with this damn thing. "I know," said Security
"let's call Steve Gibbs!" Remember him? "He's the guy
who has an answer for everything!" In a matter of a few minutes the
offending (or offended?) wheel was placed in Mr. Gibbs hands. In a matter
of a few more minutes it was returned to it's rightful owners and
returned to its proper place in the race car. BUT... no one took their
eyes off of it the rest of the evening. And at least now the guys would be
able to get a decent night's sleep.