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Being that I’m an old guy - born in 1946 - I was lucky enough to grow up during what I call the golden era of drag racing, the 1950s-70s, and my love and affiliation with the sport has continued to this day.
I got hooked on drag racing at the age of 10 in 1956 when my uncle took me to the drag races put on by the original NHRA “Safety Safari” at the Linden (NJ) Airport. Since then I’ve been involved in the sport as a racer, an announcer, track manager, crew guy, PR flack, marketing guy, promoter, truck driver and just about every other facet of the sport. During the past few years, since I retired, I’ve been touring the country announcing and promoting nostalgia drag races and helping out my good friend Dick Rosberg with his Jet Dragster team.
Over the course of these trips I’ve had the opportunity to see and talk with such noted drag racing historians such as Bret Kepner, noted photographer Steve Reyes, TV Tommy Ivo, NHRA’s Bob Frey and many other “old guys” and one of the things that always comes up in conversation is some of the dragstrips that we’ve been to.
Since I started going to the drags I’ve saved tickets, programs, pit passes and just about any other souvenir I could get my mitts on, and I’ve got literally boxes and boxes of memorabilia. I also wrote down notes (sort of like a diary) that I’ve kept up with over the years about my trips to drag races all over the country. During those years I’ve gone on the road with a bunch of teams and drivers including “Jungle Jim” Liberman, Lew Arrington, Paul Blevins, the Jesel Brothers, Bernie Agaman, Grant Stoms, Bennett & Sirriani, Neil Mahr and many others. These road trips have allowed me to visit dragstrips that I never would have had the chance to go to, and those trips are some of the best memories of my life.
Over the past few weeks I started going through all the stuff I’ve collected to try to put together a list of all the dragstrips I’ve been to in my career and when I finished up counting I really freaked myself out! I came up with a total of (are you ready for this?) 171 dragstrips/races that I’ve been to since 1956. I know it sounds like a lot but here is the list of those tracks. In future columns I’ll add my notes about most of those dragstrips and if anybody out there has been to more dragstrips than me speak up now or forever hold your peace.