From The Editor’s Desk
by Connell R. Miller
“TV” Tom Ivo is rightfully hailed as one of the great racers and innovators in drag racing and is universally applauded for his continuing and tireless devotion to the promotion of the sport. Nostalgia Drag World is proud to present an interview with the genial racer by our newest contributor, Paige Teel, who capably showcases the humor “TV” always brings to the table.
I could leave her introduction at that, adding her name to the long list of writers whose contributions over the past eleven issues have helped NDW become the “go-to” online magazine covering nostalgia drag racing, but there is more at work here. In an age when there is documented diminishing of interest in our straight-line sport by the younger folks, I do want to mention that our Miss Teel is an 11-year-old grade school student! Not just an aspiring motorsports reporter, this young lady is a true racing aficionado as well as a seasoned driver in the competitive world of Jr. Dragster racing.
With talented youngsters such as Paige and 10-year-old racing shutterbug Dallas Wilson writing about and photographing drag racing events and the people involved, hopefully their efforts will influence other young folks to become interested in our sport. Kudos to them… and welcome aboard, Paige Teel!
Turn back the clock to 1957…….
In the 1950s there were a series of books written by Henry Gregor Felsen that were very popular with teens – including me – that actually embraced “hot rods” as part and parcel in the storylines. They would be considered somewhat “schlocky” by today’s standards, but to us youngsters who were jonesing for anything to read that smacked of a “hopped-up rod,” they sold well…very well! Titles such as Hot Rod, Street Rod, and Crash Club lined our shelves; the stories giving us (albeit fictional) drama and human interest that we didn’t see in the non-fiction magazines of the day.
Now, skip to the present and we have another book that documents well the hot rods and drag racing, the girls and the music that were hot in the latter ‘50s, a true banner period for the explosion of interest in the coming of age for our sport. Circa 1957, with its subtitle of Coming of Age, Girls, Cars and Rock & Roll, is a 302 page, soft-cover book written by one of Nostalgia Drag World’s newest contributors, Chuck Klein. A true, long-time gearhead, Chuck is an accomplished author with nine other fiction and non-fiction titles under his belt. Circa 1957 is based on actual characters and events that he, himself, knew and experienced in the era, along with mentions of the cool rock and roll that we were hearing on the A.M. radio stations (editor’ note: in case you’ve ever wondered, A.M. = Amplitude Modulation; F.M. = Frequency Modulation. As a disc jockey from the old days, with real disks, I always worked the A.M. side of the dial)
As Chuck writes: “Because Circa 1957 has a lot of car stuff and salty language, it’s a guy kind of book. However, whether you’re a hot-rodder or a chick-flick type, I promise you’ll laugh and maybe choke up during your read.”
This book should be a must-read for those who were there and lived it, as well as a primer for the younger set to learn from and enjoy what many of us experienced back in the day. If your favorite bookseller doesn’t have it, go to Amazon.com (where I got mine) and, a few clicks later, it’ll be on its way to you. Oh, and while you’re waiting, be sure and read Chuck’s article in this month’s issue!
Nostalgia Drag World has some of the finest photographers onboard, who have filled our pages every issue with wonderful images from the early days to current events and cars. A number of these “camera jockeys” have their own website or store their photographs on sites such as SmugMug, Photobucket, Snapfish and others. Please realize that most of our contributors have these images for sale. With their investment in expensive cameras and lenses, not to mention the expenses they incur traveling to and from the events as well as the years they have spent perfecting their craft, a small return in the form of a purchase of a photograph would certainly be appreciated by any of these very talented guys and gals!
Many of these sites can quickly and easily arrange the sale of different sizes of prints or even supply one printed on canvas. Wouldn’t a 16” x 20” framed photo of your favorite drag car pulling a wheelie or in the middle of a mind-boggling burnout look good hanging on your wall?
Car Clubs? Bring ‘em back!.......
We have run editorials and articles bemoaning the fact that today we are seeing diminishing interest in the sport of drag racing by the much-less-interested youngsters of today. This so-called Millennial Generation seems to have an aversion to getting greasy and busting their knuckles working under the hood of a car today, preferring instead to stay home, texting, tweeting, and thumbing the controls of that “magic” interface that disconnects them from reality, sending them into the fantasy world of computer-generated games. I’m going “old-school” here to suggest something that might help turn a few from computers to camshafts: Car clubs!
Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, car clubs were very popular; many had a waiting list of prospective members eager to join. Regular weekly or monthly gatherings of like-minded gearheads forged friendships as well as creating great racing memories. Clubs sometimes built very successful communal race cars, and in a few cases, even were responsible for developing full-fledged drag race facilities.
Mine, the “Rovin’ Rebels,” was started by four of us teens in the mid-‘50s in a garage in Dallas. Wearing our Sears-bought shirts, embroidered with our logo, we had regular meetings that bonded us not only to each other, but passionately to the sport we loved! Three of our original four went on to build and race cars that included gassers, fuel altereds and dragsters.
Unfortunately, today people do not join groups, clubs or associations as readily as they did in the past. For example, an Elks Lodge where I was a member, in the 1960s had a membership of over 2,000, but in the 1990s, the roles had dropped to a mere 635. It looks like car clubs have also suffered from this decline in the desire to “join.” I want to cup my mouth with my hands, lean back and yell loudly… ”WHY?!”
Even though many have disappeared over the years, there are still active clubs around the country, providing camaraderie, help with members’ cars, and, as is the case for quite a few, dedication to aiding charities with services and financial help through their car shows, raffles and other events.
Food for thought: If there is a car club in your area, why not think about joining and, if not, maybe consider starting one. If you do (and the major point I’m trying to make here) - invite your kids, your grandkids, or a friend and his kids. Perhaps you’ll be successful in showing a young’un there is a life away from microprocessors and monitors, while adding formerly foreign words such as “cams,” “valves,” “blowers,” “slicks,” and “nitromethane” to his vocabulary. It also could put some real excitement in his up-to-now rather mundane life and create a much-needed new drag racing fan. You’ll also be responsible for adding a tiny block into the foundation helping to rebuild our sport, which will ultimately add butts in the stands and cars on the track!
For some great advertising specials for our manufacturers and sellers, be sure and contact Rob Huckstadt (firstname.lastname@example.org), Nostalgia Drag World Publisher, for rates. Drag strip facilities and racing teams, we have deals for you as well!
I’ll hop off my well-worn soap box now and slide it back into the NDW closet for another month. Remember, though, feedback is certainly welcome - let’s hear from you!
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Nostalgia Drag World - by Connell R. Miller, Editor-n-Chief