Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 10, Page

Over all those years, is it even possible for you to pick like one most memorable, most significant moment, as an announcer -- where you are watching it and you say, this is incredible?

DM: A whole host of memories flood back, but I'll just give you a few.  Garlits blowing over at Englishtown and Bernstein’s 300 mph run in Gainesville, I was announcing both of them.  I get asked that question all the time and I say seriously, the most memorable moment is the most recent one.  It takes awhile to go back and sort of process all of the things that I've seen.  I was standing on the starting line when Calvin Rice ran the first 9-second elapsed time in 1956 at the Nationals in Kansas City.  I would tell you, as my memory has it, he started about a foot and a half or two feet behind the starting line and got a rolling start.  Understand, there were no light beams, just a man physically positioning a car when they came up, but it was an inaugural run and he got there and ran a 9.99.  Now that stuck in my memory. Now maybe my memory is false because he certainly deserves credit for doing it, no matter how he did it. My God, that's 50 years ago now and that's just almost impossible to realize how much stuff has gone by.

What about the flip side of that?  Have you ever had a major gaff on the microphone?  What was your worst one where you just wanted to crawl under the desk?

DM: Now, I have a very strong selective memory (laughing)  and I operate on the philosophy of a need-to-know basis and those are things I generally try to get rid of, but trust me, if you do this, if you work in broadcasting or you work with the spoken word at any time, because there is no opportunity for some dictatorial  editor sitting there with a blue pencil writing lines through your copy and changing it, like all editors do, You cannot go 50 years without making a mistake and errors, miscalling cars, miscalling names, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. All the work I have done, practically exclusively has been ad lib.  Bear in mind that I started in the era when political correctness was not even an imaginable phrase and you had the luxury and leisure to say what you wanted to.  Today you wouldn't say it because it would be deemed offensive.  It probably was in those days, but everyone thought it was funny from time to time.  It’s been an interesting 50 years.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

DR: You also have quite a history as a racer yourself.  You've been on the track quite a bit, have you not?

DM: As much as I could, and I don’t know if I speak for all announcers, but if you are involved in this sport, you want to drive, whatever level you are capable or can financially

afford, but there is one great problem. It’s very difficult to be a driver and an announcer. Particularly back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, at least on local track gigs, you were spending most of your time announcing, so there was no time to race.  If you pursued it (announcing) as a career, as I did, you didn't have time to go race. 

Now, I started with a '39 Chevy with an injected Buick and a LaSalle floor 3-speed, that was my first race car.  I ran it for a few years and then I got to announcing and that car just sat.  I went for years and years without driving. In 1970, I was running a racetrack in south Louisiana (Houma) and I had an opportunity to acquire a Fiat altered car that had been built by the same Shreve Automotive group that I referred to in 1959.  The car was built about 1961, 1962. It ran at Indy with a blown Oldsmobile in it and a (B&M) “Hydrostick”  in B-altered.  It ran for a couple years.  Another guy used it with an injected small block and ran in C-altered and the car was sitting in 1970 in the guy's carport so I asked him what he was going to do with it and he said nothing, you want it?  I said, well, yeah, and the guy said, go ahead, take it.  I ended up going to work for NHRA in 1971 in California and towed that car all the way to California. My kids and I got it running in late '72 and we raced it for about 4-5 years.  Injected, big-block, turbo clutch, it was a fun car, ran 9.30's, 142 mph.

 

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