John Dearmore’s Thoughts On Drag Racing
by John Dearmore
Every month I write about doing what is best for your racing, your car or your engine, but today I’m drawn towards something else that’s on my mind. Something very important. And it deals with friends…having great ones who will last a lifetime. Over the years I have had the opportunity – and pleasure - to make a lot of friendships, many of which have lasted a very long time for me. I try and meet new people wherever I go, and I’m always in hope that I’ve made that lasting, favorable impression.
As I get older I realize that all those friends I have made mean more and more to me. I feel I can call on any of them just to B.S., ask a question or find out how there health is. When you’re young most of this doesn’t matter because you “will live forever.” Believe me, I have been there and done that!
I lived the dream that most people would give anything to have and do – as a professional drag racer who toured the country, driving the roads and highways in all parts of the country. That’s a whole lot of miles and, as a result, I made a lot of friends along the way.
So you have to remember: When you are racing and you meet someone new or renew an acquaintance with a person you have not seen in a long time, please make it a point to let that individual know just how much his or her friendship means to you. We all know life can be short and we are reminded of that when a friend passes away and you realize you have, for a long time and for whatever reason, missed opportunities to just call or stop by and say “hello.”
I have lost some very close friends whom I’ve known for 50 years, but feel real lucky sometimes when I look back and just think of the good times we had back when we could (and did!) burn the candle at both ends—so to speak. Granted there are some we meet who are much closer then others, but make no mistake: all are friends to the end!
I have some old acquaintances who live in the Memphis area that I’ve raced and been friends with for over 50 years. Back about 1969, when we were up in Colorado racing, after the event some of the local Denver guys put us onto a short cut. My driver was great at handing the rig when the sun was out; however, when the sun went down it was best you change places with him! He was driving and we were in the lead just ahead of my friends from Memphis. As we were traveling along we came to this real long, downhill stretch that must have been a half-mile or longer. Well, the rig kind of got away from Brian. The brakes were smoking and the way it was coming into the cab we knew we were in big trouble!
We tried using just the trailer brakes but that was no help. The rig was all over the road like a snake as we careened down the hill. So what does my driver do? Brian gunned it, speeding up until now we are going close to 100 m.p.h., but at least the trailer was not whipping side to side any more. However, we were still close to flipping us over. All we could do was hope there was some uphill to help slow us down, and not a minute too soon - sure enough there was.
I’d say we were just too young to be scared. We stopped on the highway, got out and started checking ourselves over along with the truck and trailer and the race car inside (other than having to put new brake pads and shoes on both the truck and trailer, we made it). While we were stopped our friends pulled up behind us and got out, wondering what the hell was going on. My reply was simply, “you know how drivers are; they only remember one thing…put the pedal down!” The guy who was asking was the driver of the other top fuel car from Memphis. He, himself, was one who always drove like there was no tomorrow. Of course, it’s always fun to re-connect and reminisce with old friends like this. And, I’ll tell you, to this day they all still remember that downhill adventure after 50 years. Wow, how time flies!
Remember, if you need any quality shaft rocker arms or answers to your engine building or racing questions, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nostalgia Drag World - by John Dearmore