I started writing this post a few months ago, I was trying to afford a trip to the USA for two weeks to visit the Pamona Swap Meet followed by the NHRA museum and then the Hot Rod Reunion to see the cars of the 1960’s in action. I decided to concentrate on the roots of Engineered To Slide and head to WTAC instead, use the $$ to inject some life back into the merchandise and finish 2016 financially ahead rather than behind.
Now that the initial disappointment of not going and the realization that I actually did the right thing is over I can post this, its something that you may or may not find interesting, its really left field for me but its something that I haven’t been able to shake for a very long time.
Over the past few years I have had this overwhelming respect for the beginning of Drag Racing, initially sparked by the research I was putting into the FLATS movie regarding vintage drag bikes and their associated unique style.
I began to read more and more, researching the fuels used, researching times and modifications and continually being blown away at the level of progression in the 1960’s.
It wasn’t just about the motorcycles, I started to take notice of the FED (Front Engine Dragster) rails, as a driver of one of these machines you were putting your life on the line every-time, everything about these dragsters are mind numbing, supercharged large capacity engines mostly around 400ci, mechanically injected with over 90% nitro, no gearbox, just a mechanical clutch covered by a scattershield, that drove a shortened diff that you literally sat on. The rear brakes were hand operated but not relied apon, it was the parachute that pulled up these 7 second cars from their 1/4 mile burnout.
As a fabricator I always wondered how they took all these parts and made them work, there were no TIG welders, just an oxy torch, most cars were run by teams of a few people and with old war surplus laying everywhere around America these cars were constructed of varying raw materials.
I started to think this was a USA only thing, the bulk of the information I had found was from the US but all of that was about to change.
The addition of the 1951 Triumph drag bike I built to the Geelong Revival Festival proved to be a good decision. I spoke to a number of people about vintage drag racing and there were a lot of older guys that got a real kick out of the bike.
One of those guys was Ron Savage, I didn’t get the chance to speak to Ron but after the event he sent me a few photos that he had taken in the 1960’s, I was excited and also surprised that just 100km up the road from me this stuff happened (50 years ago), a few emails later to Ron and a package arrived on my doorstep.
A bundle of Rod&Sports magazines from the late 1960’s took my breath away, I stopped what I was doing and buried myself into these for the next few hours.
I was so excited that this happened in Australia and that there was a community large enough to have a magazine printed.
Each page, image and paragraph had me mesmerized.
It seemed like motorcycle drag racing was in its infancy.
With a new list of rules being published in the late 60’s
Running side by side with the quickest rails.
To be able to read about these machines and get the details listed is invaluable to me.
There’s something about competition cars and bikes from the 60’s and 70’s, just pure mechanical art.
Its good to see naturally aspirated chute pack dragsters aswell, this style will always be my favorite.
But you cant beat the blown nitromethane burning Hemis!
Big diameter zoomies sweeping the smoke off the tyres.
I wonder if stuff like this still exsists in the hands of the original owners and builders?
They would hold so many amazing racing memories.
From a groundbreaking era of racing.
But what I love most about this is that Australian Ingenuity had a hand in creating history by adding its own flavor.
I want to thank Ron for sending me these magazines, it really does mean a lot, if you have any more details or photos or know if this stuff is still around then I would love to hear from you.
My thirst for information on building a car also had me coming across the following article, you might find the following instructional article of value.