"Started on Fugitive 6-22 going to paint next week."
That's how the conversation about a fuel tank for the Hippo turned, in early July 2015. I was talking to Andi Humenik, about his restoration of The Fugitive. If you aren't familiar with Andi, he's an early thirty-something fueler fanatic, son to a fella known as "Far Out". Part of the west coast culture of the 4 wheeled variety. There's been a number of Fugitive's over the years. This one had some notoriety, mainly due to one of its previous owners, Fredrick DiNome. Also known as "Broadway Freddy DeName", a colorful character (an infamous legend for his later pursuits beyond drag racing) who's penchant for speed included this fuel dragster. We'll limit the story to the fueler, the tale tellers can tell the rest elsewhere.
Andi was looking for photos of the original. Finding them was a chore, which in itself was difficult and ultimately turned up empty. Lore has it. Freddy had the cowl decorated with some interesting depictions of cartoon characters. Another account, told to me... "Freddy cut pictures outta some porno magazine and buried them under clear, all over it." One source, reportedly had photos of the cowl in question, but due to illness in the family, the photos never materialized.
"It is the Fugitive, kinda keeping that a bit low." Andi confessed." Was super cool to have father Long (Don) sign off on it." He unashamedly stated this, with the pure thrill that only another devotee to this sickness can relate.
In addition, I had received this account from an inquiry on a private forum I belong to, when I had put out the word, searching for photos.
"I was contacted by the guy that had the black Don Long car at the last two reunions. Through a process of elimination, with me being an off/on partner of Doug Walton from St. Paul, MN. through the years, I knew the history of Doug's car that was sold to Freddie DeName. It was proven that was the car at Bakersfield and the guy had several pics of the car when Freddie owned it. He (Andi) started carefully sanding and found his paint underneath. Between Long and I, it was for sure."
...this stuff is so bitchin when it comes together.
August 13, I told Andi the attempts to get the photos had come to a dead end. He says, "On the bright side, digger is at Carter's getting love. Gunna be real awesome. Carter knew Freddie as well and remembered he had this car short time."
Carter. Bill Carter. Yeah... Bill f****ng Carter. I'm drooling at this point.
"He's going to try to talk to Nat. He lettered it originally." Nat.... damn..... Nat Quick!
The stuff dreams, or a really good trip, are made of. I offered that I knew a guy who was good friends with Nat and could make the contact. For whatever reason, Nat was unavailable and Dennis Jones did a fantastic job. But, it was cool, despite striking out on the photos. Carter knew the lay of the land. Who is going to question him? Like that insurance company claims about it's customers... in good hands.
September 16, I sent Andi a message, asking if it was progressing okay. "Heck ya! Hope to see The Fugitive Saturday, with no lettering. Will have to send you some secret pics for yer eyes ! Carter says it's gunna, Bring them to their knees like rats eatin' cheese."
I ask, " Are you there with Carter?"
"Yeah, in the booth!" he replied.
"Get a picture of him flipping me off", was my response. I've been flipped off by some of the greats. I know, I'm messed up.
Andi sent me a few more photos and made plans to get together at the reunion in October. Unfortunately, I later had to cancel my Bakersfield adventure, due to being slammed at the shop.
October 7, I get the short kid off to school. Sat down at my computer and started the ritual of the day. Then... I see this.... hell of a start to the morning. Started questioning the wisdom of my decision.
October 20, I'm in the mode of counting down to a CHRR I won't be attending. Found out there was no live broadcast, too late to get anything moving in that direction. I decided to look at the bright side, more time for the kids and working on my projects. My office manager asked, " Can I take off the last couple days of the week?" I asked the reason, out of curiosity. " Because you are going to be unbearable, since you won't be going to that thing in California."
UGH. Was it obvious?
Then...Andi sends me a message, "Man did you end up changing yer mind about coming to Bakersfield? Fugitive left yesterday. I'm going today to get motor installed. Wanted to send you a picture ..."
From the time of the above photo, Andi was MIA. Burning the candle at both ends, the midnight oil and anything else he could burn. It paid off, with a debut at CHRR. Beautiful is about the only word that can describe this 4 month wonder. Another one saved from the depths of dark warehouses, garages and the dreaded scrap heap.
Good work Andi, (our hero in the middle).
Andi would like to thank Wayne King and crew. Not only did they build the engine... they thrashed to save the day at the end to get the car fully dressed and ready to cackle... Bob at Verns plating for all the brightwork... Owners and friends John and Bill, who stepped up and made it all a reality. With Andi's Imposter and now The Fugitive under his belt, he has proven he's no one hit wonder when it comes to keeping the past alive.
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Eddie Buck; Photos courtesy of Andi Humenik