JOLIET, Illinois - “It was a good day for bonding,” said Ted Peters, a Nostalgia Pro Stock racer who also works as a technical inspector for Chicagoland Raceway (Route 66). I replied, “Yeah, just like in a glue factory,” and then we both broke into laughter because at 10:00 p.m. we were packing up our gear after a long, hot, humid and sometimes frustrating day of racing at the Route 66 Nostalgia Classic.
It’s true that most of the objects we had touched in the steam sauna conditions on August 15 were sticky, but after driving home and sleeping on the idea, I had the thought that what Peters had said was also, in a way, profound.
Over the course of two days, various individuals, racers, track staff and spectators, had come together to produce and enjoy a racing experience unique to the track and the larger culture it is immersed in.
“Every time I roll under that bridge, it’s still a thrill,” said John Grinwald about the approach to the starting line at Lucas Oil Raceway (Indianapolis). Well, I get the same feeling standing in the tower tunnel between two throbbing Super Stockers ready to leap into the spotlights on a sultry summer night.
The lights extending to the horizon against the black background of the track and the blue of the stadium shaped bleacher seats are like no other place in drag racing. As in an airport runway, racing at 66 is almost like looking into the possibilities of infinity.
Mike Therrien in his 1968 Hemi Dart the “Chi Town Shaker”
Ken Kleiners 65 Comet altered wheelbase. Ken resides in Downers Grove, IL
Asphalt Angel “Makin it Work” Rich Berlisk of Hartland, WI - Bill White, Demotte, IN with “Wheels Up”
Dan Hradisky from Chicago, IL in his 1963 Chevy 409 “The Home Wrecker
In addition to mine, there were 40 other experiences that night, 16 NSS drivers in eight pairs and eight NPS drivers in four pairs came out of that tunnel over two nighttime sessions. We had been washed out of the staging lanes of an afternoon session by an unpredicted rain shower. The first NSS® night session showed a field working out its footing with the closest race between John Grinwald in the ‘Asphalt Elephant’ 1962 Dodge prevailing over Len Grimsley Jr. in the ‘Fire and Faith’ 1964 Plymouth 8.954 at 150.28 mph to 9.146 at 148.56 mph.
Also in the first session, Paul Habura set low elapsed time and top speed of the event at 8.738 and 154.53 mph with the 1963 Plymouth ‘Keeping the Faith’ car. As usual, gaps in the second session tightened up as the drivers started getting a feel for the track, which was in remarkably good condition after being washed by the rain.
Two races were highlights, the first between Dale Chenoweth’s ‘Agitator’ 1964 Plymouth and Doug Henderson’s ‘Never Too Late’ 1964 Plymouth. Henderson posted the better ET at 10.327 but Chenoweth’s times of 0.096 reaction and 10.338 elapsed carried him through for the win.
Saving the best for last, Grinwald edged Habura in the final match up, 8.842 to 8.844 by taking a 0.100 to 0.178 reaction advantage.
Paul Habura from Addison, IL launching the 63 Plymouth “keeping The Faith” for another 8 second pass
John Grinwald, Watertown, WI in the Asphalt Elephant Launching together with Paul Habura and the black 1963 Plymouth
The intervals in this contest were remarkable with Habura going 1.255, 3.692, 5.681, 7.390 and 8.844 at 154.25 mph to 1.405, 3.639, 5.627, 7.361, 8.842 at 151.27 mph for Grinwald. “I was able to get the ‘tree,” said Grinwald, “another 10 feet and he would have got me, but he never got past my door. This is one of my most satisfying wins.”
Mike Jessup “warming up the rubber” under the watchful eye of Len Grimsley Sr
This beautiful Sox & Martin Barracuda tribute car is owned and driven by Craig Pfohl of Dubuque Iowa
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Bob Wilkiewicz; Photos by Mike Sopko Sr - Mike Sopko Jr - Dak Ricks www.quartermileclassics.com www.danricksphotos.com