Words by Dave Densmore
When Billy Condit, the oldest of the Condit Brothers, passed
away earlier this year, John Force lost more than a cousin,
he lost someone who inspired him to follow his dream of a
career in drag racing.
That’s why the 13-time NHRA Funny Car Champion dedicated
his February victory at Phoenix to Billy, his surviving brothers
Stephen and David and their mother, “Aunt Bea” Condit,
also known to a whole slew of racers simply as “Ma.”
The Condits finally got the trophy in a private meeting
with Force during the SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip
at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I admired and looked up to Billy,” Force said. “He
was an individual who, in the early days, inspired me with
the stories that he told about driving across the country,
following the racing circuit.
“He’d tell me stories about all the race teams
out there; how they partied and how they played and that
was my early introduction to racing. I knew when they
were going back on tour and I knew when they came back in
the winter, the stories would start again.
“It was almost like he was a seaman who went off to
sea and when he’d come back he’d have all these
stories about the places he went and the people he met. Racing
was a different world back then and I lived for those stories.”
In the 1970s, the Condit Brothers
embodied everything that Force aspired to be. All three, Billy, Stephen and
David, were actively involved in racing. Billy and
Stephen were accomplished mechanics and Dave Condit was the
first in the family to win an NHRA national event.
Driving the Plueger and Gyger Ford Funny
Car, he won the season-ending 1974 Supernationals at Ontario,
CA, by beating the legendary Ed “the Ace” McCulloch
in the final round.
Although they enjoyed considerable
success on the match race circuit, both with their own car
and those of others, the Condits never won another NHRA national
event. Nevertheless, they remained active in the sport into
the '80s along with Force’s late uncle, Gene Beaver. Beaver
made a name for himself with a series of “L.A. Hooker” Funny
Cars, a take off on the “Chi-Town Hustler” name
made famous by Force’s current crew chief, Austin Coil.