From the Editor’s Desk……
by Connell R. Miller
I doubt if there is one of you out there who has not had a good, bad, ugly, terrifying, funny, or just plain weird experience as you traveled to or from a drag race. There are two of mine below; old ones, neither of which is particularly outrageous, over-the-top, super funny or even resulted in the earth’s poles reversing. They’re merely anecdotes of a couple of times I can look back on and chuckle about, remembering a bit of perseverance mixed with some humor, as the goal and destination of each eventually ended with a wonderful day at the drags!
If you’ve had one of those interesting experiences when heading to or coming home from an event, send it and we’ll let the world laugh, cry, cheer or cuss with - or at - you. Email me at: email@example.com.
One summer day in 1957, my neighbor, Tommy Gay, and I, headed out to Circle Drag Strip in Tommy’s beautiful, black with red interior 1956 Olds 88 coupe. Circle was a small - but fun – full quarter-mile track within the city limits of Dallas. We were cruising Northwest Highway heading towards Harry Hines, when flashing red lights and a siren hit us from behind, and with no intention of urging us to move over so it could race by. As one of Big D’s finest approached Tom’s window, we were scratching our heads since we both knew he had not been speeding or weaving. It seems that Tom’s sister’s guests from a party the night before, in a fit of laughable stupidity, had painted the Olds’ license tag, making it pretty much unreadable. Said officer saw no humor in that explanation…damn!
We were immediately transferred, un-cuffed and un-shackled, in a bright, shiny new ’57 Ford black-and-white that already strongly reeked of cigarette smoke, body odor, and vomit, downtown to P.D. headquarters, where we waited for Tom’s dad in a room that had a quite similar stench to that we had just experienced in the gendarme’s cruiser. I guess things got quickly cleared up, and we soon were deposited back at the Olds by Mr. Gay, who had thoughtfully brought some paint thinner and rags with him. After a few minutes of furious scrubbing, the tag was readable and we were once again on our way to Circle, much later than originally planned. Tommy did take out the frustration of a few wasted hours keeping us from the drags with some pretty killer runs in his big, bad Rocket 88!
Just before we were of “legal” driving age we could usually find a way to go to the races. In 1957, my cousin and I coerced his dad – a non-racing enthusiast and rather uptight lawyer-type – into testing out his new Volkswagen bus on a road trip. Our destination that first Sunday of the month was Caddo Mills. There were several members of the car club we founded the year before – the Rovin’ Rebels – and coolers of soft drinks, all stuffed into this top of the line model, loaded with windows and wood cabinets. Unfortunately, as we headed northeast of Dallas there was a hill on the way that the anemic 36-horsepower 4-cylinder engine couldn’t conquer, so we all piled out and pushed it on up and over, working up quite a sweat in the already hot Texas morning sun!
Once we finally got to Caddo, my uncle parked parallel to the strip, a couple hundred feet from the starting line. We then pulled out the coolers, lawn chairs, and unrolled and set up the built-on awning that was an option my uncle had ordered with the fancy little bus. All day we had to fend off thirsty folks who thought our little layout was a concession stand (we could have made some good money with another full cooler!). With Caddo being a no-frills operation, we probably passed up a great, once-a-month income by not considering becoming concessionaires!
The moral of these two simple little tales? Not a lot except that nothing and no one was going to keep us from our dose of drag racing on those appointed weekends! It might have involved a little more work, patience, or cunning, but looking back, kids today just don’t realize how much more fun we had in those days than they do now, hanging out and getting rejected by the cuties at the mall (boring!) or (ho-hum!) rolling down the sidewalk on a skateboard!
Nostalgia Drag World - by Connell R. Miller, Editor-in-Chief