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A couple of years ago, when I first started writing for DRO, among many racers who contacted me were Ed & Nikki Bruegge from Fairfield, Iowa. From extensive racing during the Kahoka, Mo. days, I know the Bruegge family well; however we had not been in touch for years. Since that original contact, I have been amazed at the ‘art’ of Ed and his compassion for crafting trick and unusual vehicles in central Iowa. This is his story.
Ed Bruegge opened a welding and repair shop near Fairfield, Iowa when he finished welding class in high school, at the young age of only 17. Being intrigued by the ‘need for speed’, the talented mechanic got into go-cart racing before Tri-State Dragway opened in Kahoka, Mo.
Nikki, said, “This is Ed’s first drag car at Kahoka in 1960 or 61.” Ed was part of a large contingent of racers from the Fairfield, Iowa area, which includes Parson’s College. The coup was powered by a 301 cubic inch small block Chevrolet with a four speed transmission. After half the ’61 season at Tri State Dragway, Ed was unable to defeat his long time rival, R.D. Wolf, from Muscatine, Iowa. Therefore the crew used the two week hiatus at Tri State for the annual Clark Co. Fair to create the ’51 Crosley wagon. The new car was 1,000 lbs. lighter and much quicker than the ’37. Ed made a mold and fabricated the fiberglass front end. After the first year, he ‘chopped’ the top of the wagon and left all of us wondering, “Where does big Ed fit in there”? He not only fit, he could literally drive the hell out of the Possum Chaser, winning two season points titles at Tri State Dragway on the 1/8th mile; and running a track record 10.34 E.T. at 134 MPH at Cordova, Ill. during the1963 ‘World Series of Drag Racing’. It was at this event that a Life Magazine photographer gave the little Crosley National exposure.