Grady Bryant with his first race car, 1961

It was a time when most kids were at the beach or worrying about what to wear to the next party. Fuzzy dice hung from all the rearview mirrors and packs of Lucky Strikes were rolled up in sleeves. If you were a drag racer, the only thing you worried about was how to go faster.

It has been over fifty years since I started drag racing, and boy has it changed. The sponsorships then consisted of your local parts store and a friendly gas station that might give you a tank of fuel before your next race if you painted their name on your car with shoe polish. I wanted to race, but didn't like the grease under fingernails that so many of the guys had in those days. My good friend Dick Harrell felt about the same way. We both bought 1961 Chevys; mine was a high performance 348 and Dick's was one of the new 409s. After a few modifications of the electrical systems and the carbs, we started attending all the races we could in the area of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Texas. We had no one to travel with us (Carlsbad, New Mexico was in the middle of nowhere), so we decided that if we pulled with a chain instead of a tow bar we could make faster time and eliminate using another car. Plus, it was cheaper if we split the gas. I know it sounds crazy, but we would pull 400 to 500 miles in a week end by using the chain. Dick was always the front car with the 409 and I was the brake car. We would run what they then called Super Stock with the 409 and A Stock with the 348.

We would carry our racing third members in the trunk, and when we got to the race track, up went the car with a bumper jack and we would change the rear end so we could race. When the race was over, we had to change them back to our cruising gears. At one race, Dick broke a transmission and we used mine for him to race and then pulled it out and put it in my car for me to race. This worked pretty good until it was time for us to race each other. Someone loaned us their transmission for the finals. I believed we changed transmissions about a dozen times that Sunday, plus the rear ends for our trip home. It wasn’t a sport for weaklings, or for someone who fell asleep easily. Many times we would get home just in time to go to our jobs without any sleep for the weekend. But, if you wanted to race (and we did), this was how it was going to be.