Steve Reasbeck on Drag Racing 1962 to 1965 Mopars
May - August 2011
Okay. You are right. Im way, way overdue on this one. No excuses.
Many of you have come up to me in recent weeks reminding me of this. Ive been reminded in the staging lanes at Pittsburgh Raceway Park during the MoPower / Curt George Memorial, and again this past weekend at the 2011 version of the York US30/Nostalgia Nationals at Beaver Springs Dragway. I get it! Iím officially off my duff.
After a spring consisting of constant rain in the northeast, where pretty much the entire early racing season was wiped out, it has been extremely hot and muggy since. Not the ideal racing weather, but still dry. Over the winter Ive installed a little fan in my Hemi; and even with that when itís 90 degrees outside it still gets toasty with a firesuit and helmet on, with the windows rolled up. But, still, making a pass is fun. After all these years, it is still a hoot. I wish I could make a 100 runs a day.
The Curt George Memorial / MoPower event at Pittsburgh Raceway Park in late June was our first event of the year. Hot and sunny, it was a good weekend. Curt was a good friend of ours who lost his life in an industrial accident in 2004. His dad, Bob George, who runs one of the top MoPar race shops in the east (Bob George Racing in 84, Pa) organized this event to honor his son, and it has been a hit. On Saturday evening, Kyles;s wedge 1964 Dodge broke a rocker arm, which caused us to pull the top of the motor off to replace it in the pits. When the rocker broke, the roller lifter had popped out of the lifter bore, and had to be retrieved and placed back into its bore. No problem, we were up and running within an hour.
Well attended over Fathers Day weekend, one of the big highlights of the Curt George event is the generation race on Fathers Day morning. That is where the dads race their kids, and family is of utmost importance to Bob George. Some kids are driving their own all out race cars, some are driving pickup trucks racing against dads race car. Last year I raced my son Kyles Nostalgia Super Stock Wedge 1964 Dodge, and took the light (although there is some question as to his fire to win that one). This year, I raced my other sons 1971 477 wedge powered Plymouth Satellite, a 12 second car that sees a lot of action in the local bracket wars, and I got by him in a close one. It was incredibly close, and he tells me often that hed sure like to try it again.
The entire entourage hit the road this past Saturday morning for Beaver Springs Dragway, a terrific little place in central Pennsylvania. Off the beaten path, and far off the Interstate, it is the perfect venue for what is arguably the best Nostalgia event on the east coast. The focus of the event is always on Gassers and Nostalgia Super Stock cars, which are the big draw. And, draw it does. Last year I even met some gents from London, England, who had flown over specifically for this event. Beaver Springs is owned and run by Bob McCardle, who in my mind, is the best drag racing promoter in the business today. No fancy corporate suites, the place is clean, nice, well maintained, and the food is good!
The York US30 Nostalgia Nationals is held in conjunction with the York US30 reunion at the York Fairgrounds. It is held in memorial with the now defunct York US30 Dragway, which is one of the most fabled venues in the history of the sport. The whole deal goes on during the same weekend as the Carlisle All-Chrysler Nationals in Carisle Pa., which is also in the area. There are a lot of MoPar fans who make it a triple, the events seem to augment each other rather than compete against each other.
Anyway, the reunion at the Fairgrounds winds up on Saturday evening, and most of the group adjourns to Beaver Springs for the race portion. There is a test and tune, and a Little Beaver bracket race on Saturday for those in attendance. It is open to all, Gassers, Nostalgia Super Stockers, Nostalgia Jr. Stockers, all of them. On this weekend, no electronics in any race car is permitted, so everyone is on the same page. This year, I was pretty fortunate on Saturday, going to semi finals with four of us left. It was really, really, hot, and earlier in the day I was sort of looking forward to sitting poolside at the Motel with the other geezers, but with each passing round I started to feel more and more racy. I finally bowed to the Tijuana Taxi injected 1953 Corvette gasser, but still had a ball. But, I was tuckered and we all headed back to the motel for a shower and dinner. Im not a drinker, but enjoyed some after dinner chat with other geezer drag racers at a table by the pool. Its amazing...the older we get, the better we were.
Sunday was equally hot, and only slightly more comfortable. It was a slower day, with me in the 11.10s, which is about three tenths off. Everyone else was also slower than normal, and we all race on the same track.
A big part of the reunion is the starting line introduction of legends of drag racing, and most all of the big names of yesteryear have been honored over the years. Bill Stiles, Ronnie Sox, Jungle Pam Hardy and Bruce Larson are among those having been honored, and paraded in front of the fans in classic convertibles. Of course, one of the big highlights is always the appearance of Miss Hurst Golden Shifter, Linda Vaughn. Still looking good, and certainly one of the classiest people around, her presence is always more than welcome. This years special honoree was the ageless Ken Montgomery, again of the best folks youll ever meet, a many time National event winner with his ageless Triple Nickel 1965 Hemi Plymouth four speed. Kens had a rough time lately, health wise, but was looking spry and young at the Beaver. It was great to see.
Not to bore you with details, we had another decent day. I lost second round to the re-created world beating Sox and Martin 1968 SS/B Hemi Cuda, one of my favorite race cars of all time, now driven and owned by Baltimores Dave Collette, who also owns a killer Hemi 1964 Plymouth. I didnt mind. I just hope that someone got a good pic of the run, or even a video. Ronnie Sox is my all time hero, and a shot of me staging against that Cuda is something I would treasure. The eventual winner was our good friend Dave Stubbs with his 413 cross ram 1962 Dodge, a real show piece and a genuine 413 engine. Dave ran 11.70s all day, and the win couldnt go to a better guy. We are all happy for him.
Anyway, the next blog will be up sooner, I promise.
July 11, 2011