The Goodbye Look
©2014 Bill 'BADCO' Ott
It was sometime during the summer months of 2004 while cruising southbound on I-81 in the central PA mountains when the late Eldon 'SY' Sidebothham(1) leaned over from the passenger seat and nonchalantly asked me if I'd be interested in driving his transporter (the one with the 1969 Don Long built King & Marshall dragster riding in the back) to the 50th Annual NHRA US Nationals drag race at Indianapolis Raceway Park in a few weeks? It took about two seconds for me to swallow the lump in my throat and answer... “Would I be interested? Yes indeed, I'd be interested! Hell YES, I'd be interested!!!”
So the deal was done. I'm gonna be wheeling Sy's 'behemoth' from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Indianapolis. The 'behemoth' was an eighty five foot long unit consisting of a 45' long Freightliner Columbia power unit/motor home with a 515 horsepower Detroit Diesel engine backed up by an Allison 12 speed automatic transmission. We'll be pulling a 36' long 'stacker' trailer on a tongue with a four foot gap between power unit and trailer. Do the math on the length if you want. I personally checked it out with a fifty foot tape measure at the York Fairgrounds.
I came to love that man over the summer, in spite of our occasional arguments and shouting matches.
Accompanying SY and myself on that journey to Indy was Todd Berube who shared in some of the driving duties. Todd opted out to return home after the Nats. via commercial airline. That left just Sy and myself sharing the wheel for the ride home. Another adventure unto itself.
After we spent the first three days at Indy the real workers showed up... Tom 'Tuna' Steed and his son Tim Steed. These guys did the actual wrenching on the King & Marshall digger. Tuna was also the wheel man when we 'cackled' the car out on the track just prior to Monday's Final Eliminations. Yet another SY story unto itself! Maybe I should write a book?
Tuna, Todd, and Tim also make up the SBS Racing Team who presently campaign a potent front engine blown small Chebby powered dragster with a glide in the 7.0 Pro class. A regular competitor and threat at New England Dragway.
So in honor of SY and also the upcoming 60th NHRA US Nationals I thought it would appropriate to re-post this old feature I originally did for Bill Pratt's Draglist.com. This predicament we found ourselves in literally at the opening moments of the US Nationals was a situation only SY could have wrangled us all into.
That being said... I could never thank the man enough for that glorious week at Indy. It was fun, and for this writer, a dream come true. Damn, I miss him. Thanks Sy.
Continued on next page...
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