I know that California Top Fuel racers have legions of eccentric
"characters," and thousands of legendary tales surrounding these
unique types, but here in my next two pix is a genuine Florida odd-ball,
Randy "R.L." Peyton.
R.L was from both Daytona Beach and Miami, whichever location was least
likely to draw "heat" from the local gendarmes.
Peyton built and ran this ultra-long car (I believe it was originally
an RCS car that R.L. savaged into the replica seen here) in '66-67, with
Current chassis fashion of the day said "long and flexy."
Peyton went one better by hacking off the tubing and gas welding on a
bunch of wheelbase, unwelded upright braces, etc. Running at Miami
one night, I remember seeing sparks fly after every run he made, just past
the lights. Turns out, R.L. was grinding down the bottom of the oil
pan soon as he pulled the chute ring, run after run! His solution to
this mechanical perplexity? "Hell, I just stick another pan on
Peyton debuted this car at the Springnationals, in Bristol, in '66. He
tied (literally, with ropes!) the car to a single axle, open trailer, and
drove to Bristol from Daytona, alone, in his beat-up '55 Ford F-100.
In Tech, his creation was met with immediate rejection, a scruffy,
mongrel-like offering (the car, too!) that sent the buttoned-down NHRA
tech guys recoiling from fear they might contract an incurable disease
from Peyton and/or his race car.
He was told that since the car had no driver's windscreen, it was in
violation of the rules and rejected, unable to run. This rulebook
ploy, the techies smugly thought, would surely chase away this abortion
disguised as a dragster.
Hah! Peyton said, "Wait one minute, will you guy, I'll be
With this, he went to the truck, rooted around in the bed of the truck
and found a tin-snip, came back and, as the NHRA guys watched, neatly
clipped two slits vertically in the cowl. Next, he took his fingers,
bent the clipped section forward - forming a crude yet definable
"windscreen" - and said: "OK, I got a windscreen
A hasty ref's conference was called, and the techs could find no word
or phrase in the rulebook that said the windscreen had to be made of clear
Plexiglas. At that they threw up their hands and approved the ugly
abomination, probably muttering to themselves as they walked away:
"It's his butt strapped in that piece of shit. If he wants to
risk running it, OK by us!"
Peyton not only managed to qualify, he beat Tom Hoover's SOHC Ford,
factory-backed, beautiful full bodied car in the first round, losing both
front tires in the lights. First thing Peyton does, as he hops out
after beating Hoover, is to run over and borrow a pair of front tires and
bum enough nitro to run the next round... from the guy he just beat with
his mangy old sewer-car!
He didn't win the meet, and I think he lost next round, but ended up
with second or third low ET for the race!
I know enough bizarre R.L. Peyton tales to literally fill a book.
Stories of drag racing and legal as well as pseudo-legal activities that
would curl your hair as well as bust your guts from laughing.
Peyton was one exotic creature!