From left: Dave Wallace Sr, Dave Wallace Jr, and Roger Rochon

Roger Rochon

Owner, builder, tuner, driver, crew chief, and freelance photographer: Roger Rochon has done it all. Here's how it all started, in his own words.

My first time down a drag strip was in May 1963 at California’s San Fernando Drag Strip (aka The Frog Pond).

I took my '54 Chevy 6 cylinder out to the track. I had put dual carbs on an Offenhauser aluminum manifold that I had bought at Hot Rod Henry's. I had a pair of Casler cheater slicks that a friend had given me. I also had a set of Jardine 3 into 1 headers with 3" collectors. It was the first set for a 6 cylinder they had made.

At the Pond you couldn't open the headers until noon, so I patiently waited 'till noon to open the headers. I was put next to a Hudson Hornet called the “Mickey Mouse Missile” for our run. They put me in H/Gas because of my headers and dual carbs. My car was a lot lighter than the Missile and I was gone like a shot. I had him until about 3/4 track then I heard that Hudson coming on. He passed me like I was standing still. He beat me by at least three car lengths. My ET was 16.57 at 67 MPH which was pretty good back then.

When the fast cars shut down they went under Foothill Blvd. I had turned off to go up the return road when they started pushing a Top Fueler toward the starting line to fire it up. I decided to stop and wait for the dragster to make its run. I'd never been close to one before.

There were no guardrails that far down the track so it was a great view. I was leaning my the hood watching it come by when it exploded right in front of me. Very big boom and fire. I felt a tug at my shirt and looked down to see a hole where a piece of shrapnel gone through. Scared the hell out of me.

I went back and told my friends what happened and they couldn't believe it. By the way, I took runner-up trophy. There were only two of us in the H/Gas class so I was a shoe-in for runner-up. That was my first time down a drag strip.

Since then it’s been a roller coaster ride what with Vietnam and marriage and kids. In the 50+ years since that first run, I've been fortunate to have been an owner, builder, driver, crew chief, and freelance photographer. Drag racing has been very good to me.