From the Associate Publisher
Welcome to our first issue of NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD! This has been a labor of love for those involved, and I’m thrilled to be part of the team with Rob Huckstadt, Connell Miller, and our contributors to make this your favorite source for articles, photos,and everything else that represents nostalgia drag racing. With our premier issue, it is only fitting to share my background, and why I love this sport.
I grew up in Kansas, where I still reside, and was exposed to many forms of racing as a youngster. My dad managed the concessions at Jayhawk Speedway, our local dirt track, and I began spending Friday nights as five year-old “helping my dad” run the business. I also had an aunt and uncle that lived 30 minutes from Indianapolis, so an annual trip to the Indianapolis 500 was always on the calendar, complete with free lodging at my cousin’s house. They later moved to Springfield, Illinois, so seats at the monster Springfield Mile USAC race became our summer vacation trip. My dad was also a business colleague of Harold Leep, a very successful super-modified and sprint car driver. Leep was ultimately inducted into the Sprint Car Hall Of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa in 2000.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I grew up around sprint cars, supermodifieds,USAC sprints, USAC midgets, and Indy cars (with those awesome Offenhauser engines). By the time I was a teenager, racing was in my blood.
But one thing was missing - it wasn’t until I was twelve years of age that I experienced drag racing. The drag strip in Wichita had booked a special match race program featuring “Big John” Mazmanian; Stone, Woods & Cook; K.S. Pittman; and “Ohio George” Montgomery. The “Gasser Wars” of the 60’s were invading Kansas, and I had a ticket. Ohio George didn’t show, so one of the local favorites – Nail & Holzman - filled the spot with their B/GS Austin and made a good show of it.
I was hooked on drag racing, and that love continued to grow in a strange and interesting way. My dad’s business was located next to a Standard gas station in Newton, Kansas. The station operator was a little-known (to me) farm boy by the name of John Wiebe. Of course we now know him as “Kansas John” Wiebe, of AA/FD fame in the late 60’s thru early 70’s. Wiebe had constructed a freestanding shop next to his service station, and through my teen years I would frequently hang out there (probably much to his chagrin), just watching “Weeb” and his buddies wrench on his fuelers.
“Kansas John” went on to become a 3-time AHRA World Champion, as well as the winner of numerous NHRA and PRO national events. In 1994, “Kansas John” was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall Of Fame - along with Don Garlits, Wally Parks, Sox & Martin, and Robert Petersen (of Petersen Publishing). Not bad for a Kansas farm boy!
I may not attend many dirt track races these days, but drag racing is still my passion – and I enjoy it through the lens, bringing you nostalgia drag racing images from across the country. I serve as the official photographer for THE GEEZER GASSERS, and now I’m living the dream on the staff of NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD magazine.
I’m ready for some racing!! Or as Garlits would say… “let’s put some fire in those pipes!”
Nostalgia Drag World - by Martin Libhart
Photo of young John Wiebe, circa 1970 - the photographer is unknown. Photo by Martin Libhart is the immaculate restoration of his 1969-70 car, owned by Wayne Patrick, Anaheim, CA.