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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

MORE OLD B.S – October Roads

© Bill Ott

October Road by Bill 'Badco' Ott

October Roads... in November? Guess you might say I'm getting a late start. You know, I usually come back from the California Hot Rod Reunion with two or three stories just about finished before I even sit down in front of the computer... but not this year. Started a few different things and they all came out sounding like stuff I'd done and written last year.

Now, I did make my usual pre-sunrise pilgrimage to the track Friday ... spent some time during qualifying on the starting line... hung out with the 1320 people in ‘The Grove'... inhaled damn near a drum of burned NITRO... put in an appearance at The Doubletree Inn both Thursday AND Friday nights... did the Cacklefest on Saturday... didn't miss the In ‘N Out thing Sunday night either. Hell, I even got to play a small part in Saturday night's "Ring of Fire."

Sounds like my dance card was pretty full, no? But, still nothing "meaty" to write more than a few lines about. Man, if I had to do this for a living, I'd have no need for the Atkins Diet.

At pretty near the same time some of us were making the trip to Bakersfield, James Taylor was releasing a new album titled "October Road"... made it's debut at # 4 on the Billboard Top 100. The album features remakes of a few songs Mr. Taylor has performed in the past... as well as some new material. He decided to surround himself mostly with people he has worked with before and not to venture too far from the format that has worked for him over the years. And to keep it brief.

Maybe he's on to something.

And so, I present... the November release of Badco's own "October Road" collection. Doubt if it'll make # 4 on anybody's list... but it does re-visit a few things I've done in the past... as well as feature some new material... and I also decided to surrounded myself mostly with people I already knew and not venture too far from the old format... and, oh yeah... I'll try to keep it brief. After all... it seems to have worked for James Taylor.

" October Road '02 "

1. Stepping out of the commuter plane at Meadows Field (Bakersfield) early Thursday, smelling the sandy air, and remembering the weather was exactly the same the day I left last year.

2. Being part of the crowd gathered around Tom Hanna's trailer Thursday afternoon to witness the official unveiling of the most beautifully detailed dragster ever built.

3. Meeting Gail Johnston, Bud De Boer, and Gordon Jenner at the Vagabond Inn Thursday afternoon.

4. Listening to "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac...

** Seems like a dream (they) got me hypnotized **...

...playing at 4:00 AM on the car stereo while gliding along Famoso Road with the glow of the lights from the track visible over the horizon. Love these Friday mornings here.

5. Listening to a pair of owls calling back and forth to each other while standing at the finish line at about 4:30 AM. One of them was perched above me on top of the pit side scoreboard. Did you know owls make no sound at all when they flap their wings? Or that the sky was absolutely pitch black that morning?

6. Seeing the most beautifully detailed dragster ever built, on the front page of Friday's "Bakersfield Californian." You know, you don't have to be an artist to recognize a work of art.

7. Having a nice laid back breakfast at Milt's with Warren Walther Friday morning.

8. Crusin' around Famoso Raceway in a rented golf cart.

9. Standing in awe next to George Bolthoff's magnificent re-pop of his Chrysler powered gas dragster. And being awed again later when I got to hear it's legendary "rump - rump" idle, while 'Blackie Carbon' smoke flew from the headers every time he whacked the throttle.

10. Watching two gentlemen with perhaps the most creative minds in all of Drag Racing sitting together and quietly talking. Kent Fuller and Fred Vosk.

11. Meeting Patty Hutson at the informal 1320 gathering at the Doubletree Inn Friday evening. Ms. Hutson drove a Fuel Dragster BEFORE the days of licensing! Possibly, she's the first woman to wheel a fueler?

12. Enjoying dinner at the Doubletree while the "Ernie's Camera" NITRO burning Pontiac powered digger ‘cackles' outside in the parking lot.

13. Buying Steve Gibbs another beer.

14. Krispy Kreme Donuts and coffee Saturday morning in "The Grove."

15. Hanging out at the starting line with Paula (Miss STP) Murphy and Suzy (Suzy's Scrapbook from Drag News) Kelly. Two fine babes!

16. Volunteering to be a ‘Participant Coordinator' for the "Ring of Fire" and finding out the five cars I get to ‘coordinate' were ...

1. Hanna's digger

2. Beebe & Mulligan

3. The "Samurai"

4. Loukas & Preising's Fuel Coupe

5. Floyd & Albrich's "North Wind"

17. Slowly working our way through the crowd in the golf cart, while the formerly wheelchair bound "Wheels" Inglis WALKED along beside us!!! Miracles DO happen!!

18. Finding a front engine chassis for sale in the Swap Meet area with a unique front-end setup none of us ‘chassis guys' could identify or recall having ever seen anything quite like it before.

19. Seeing the delighted look on Vance Hunt's face when he saw his friend Rance McDaniels at the starting line during Saturday's first Top Fuel qualifying session.

20. Bumping into old friends Jack & Pat Brady... who came all the way from Cumberland, R.I. and Rocky Pirrone... who came all the way from Philadelphia, Pa. and Gail Johnston... who came all the way from another continent... North Hamptonshire, England... Blimey!!!

21. Hanging out in the impromptu 'staging area' at the far end of the track prior to Saturday evening's "Cacklefest".

22. Finally getting to meet Greg Sharp.

23. Sitting in the stands with a large gathering of fellow Standard 1320 folks and digging on the "Cacklefest" (even though I had 'on track' credentials).

24. Watching the headers on the King & Marshall fueler turn cherry red as it 'cackled'.

25. Debating with friends over who 'cackled' the loudest... my pick had to be the Chrisman & Cannon "Hustler"... the trick's in the 'weed burners'. But don't forget, Art Chrisman sure knows how to tune a Hemi too!

26. Checking in with the five crews on my 'Participant Coordinator' list prior to the "Ring Of Fire"... making sure they understood the rules, arrived at the staging area at the proper time, found their 'spot' in the ring... etc.

27. Dropping by Tom Hanna's pit area just before the start of the "Ring". (NOTE... one of the rules for participation was - either the driveline had to be disconnected or the car had to be sitting on jack stands... OK?... Now dig this... Tom's busy 'uncoupling' the coupler when he notices I'm standing there. He looks me right square in the eye and asks "Is this how you wanted it, Bill?" Man, I was speechless! Think I should I have told him "Naaa... do it over again!" ??

28. Meanwhile at the Loukas & Preising pit, word went out that Bud DeBoer would be sitting in the coupe in "The Ring".

29. Checking in on the "Samurai" pit area and finding it empty... searching all over for them... then finding out the reason their area was empty. They were the FIRST guys in line over in the staging area! Man, did I get a great lineup of crews? Nope... I got the BEST lineup of crews.

30. Getting run over by some woman in a golf cart just before the start of "The Ring". Perhaps this was the same woman the G-Man and I ran over earlier today getting even? Paybacks ARE a bitch, 'ya know.

31. Standing in the middle of a circle of dragsters, fuel altereds, funny cars, with an occasional gasser thrown into the mix, in total darkness (except for the header flames), as some were idling... some were goosing the throttles... most were burning NITRO... some burned alcohol, and a few gas. The smell of all this mix being burned together as well as the smell hot engines was UNREAL!!! Not overwhelming like I suspected it might be, just UNREAL!!! BTW... I did have an escape route plotted out, just in case.

32. Seeing the look of total disappointment on Bud DeBoer's face when the Loukas & Preising coupe refused to fire.

33. Wondering... while surrounded by the noise, flames, and fumes, as a cloud of spent gasses floated overhead... "Did anyone check to see if this is even legal?"

34. The roar from the crowd when the last engine fell silent and the fireworks started.

35. Realizing when this deal ended and the lights were turned back on, that the stands were still packed. And it was late!

36. Hearing that some bastard stole the disconnected steering wheel from the King & Marshall digger as driver Tom Steed was climbing out.

37. Hearing later that some bastard was stopped at the gate by the security people, carrying a dragster steering wheel under their jacket. Chalk one up for the good guys!

38. Seeing Kent Fuller near the Main Entrance Sunday morning and offering him a ride over to the Standard 1320 area in the golf cart. Slowly working our way through the crowd for the five-minute or so ride... we talked about everything BUT Drag Racing. This could only happen here.

39. Being part of the crowd that stood around Dennis Prater's slowly coming together Stellings & Hampshire digger (yes, it's the S&H Red Stamp car) as it 'cackled' with our gal Gail (the Limey) on board.

40. Standing in almost the same spot a little later and seeing the look of total elation on Bud DeBoer's face as he sat in the "MagiCar" while it 'cackled' (remember the coupe incident last night?). I've said this before, and it's true... "You're a good man, Bill Pitts".

41. Hearing the call over the PA for the Finals in all classes... and thinking "Damn, this thing is winding down."

42. Sitting in the stands watching the Finals, with "Mad" Max Romero on my right and Bud DeBoer on my left. Max has been partners with John "Mr. Flathead" Bradley for years, and Bud's been a racing journalist for just about as long. I can remember reading about J.B.'s exploits, starting with the "Gene's Brake Shop" fueler. I'd bet Bud wrote some of that stuff that I read. Again... this can only happen here.

43. Enjoying a "Double Double" with fries and a chocolate shake at the Panama Road "In 'N Out" as darkness sets in on this glorious Sunday evening. In a short while, the Official "Last Cacklefest" of the 2002 edition of the California Hot Rod Reunion will take place right here in the parking lot. And this whole deal will be history.

44. Just before stepping into the commuter plane at Meadows Field (Bakersfield) early Monday smelling the sandy air, and remembering the weather was exactly the same the day I left last year. Some thing ARE worth repeating, are they not?

More old B.S. later.

Badco
badco@comcast.net

** © 1972 Bob Welch / Bob Welch Music **

Proud member.

Thanks Bud.

 

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