Sometime back in the mid-1980s, a few racing fans got together in Dave Heisey’s Myerstown, Pennsylvania, basement to bench race. Nothing too special as this happens in basements all across the country at any point in time. Some of the early participants were Dick Gewer, “Ray- Ray” English, and soon to be NHRA Funny Car Champ, Bruce Larson; at first the discussions centered on sports car racing.
In 1990, Dave met Jim “Bee On Video” Amos and photographer Mike “Mashie” Mihalko. They started bringing drag racing films into the mix and the subject matter shifted from sports cars to drag racing almost exclusively. These yearly “sessions” ultimately drew upwards of 30-35 people and would start at 11:00 am and last until 4:00am the next day. Dave, his wife, and two daughters would feed the people too. In fact one such session had them ordering 20 pizzas! Clearly things were getting out of hand. The poor house was looming on the horizon for Dave and his family if something wasn’t done and quick.
Dave, Dick, and Bruce put their heads together and it was then that Bruce suggested using his Stoney Creek Barn in Dauphin, Pennsylvania. The barn has everything a drag racing fan could ever want, space, a loft, space and did I mention space? A modest admission fee of $10 (to cover costs) was instituted as well as the presence of an onsite food truck. Problems solved! By the way, the price of admission also gets you a souvenir lanyard. Each lanyard has a number and during the course of the day there are door prizes awarded. It seems like most everyone walks away with something. There is also a charity auction with some very interesting pieces of memorabilia up for grabs.
That was 19 years ago. Since that year (1997) the event has grown by leaps and bounds. Usually the second Saturday in November is it’s scheduled and anybody can attend. The best part is you never know who will show up and with what.
Bud Faubel’s 1965 Dodge AWB “Honker” staged against Charlie Allen’s Coronet on a residential street with rosin!
First year I attended the event in 2001.
The first two years I attended had Bud Faubel’s “Honker” awb F/X and Charlie Allen’s F/X Dodge. The next year had both of Chrisman’s Comets. Inside the barn you can see all of Bruce’s memorabilia from his storied racing career. His ‘68 Camaro and ‘79 Corvette funny cars are on display as well as bodies (funny car) hanging on the walls. As you enter you are greeted by his championship winning Sentry Olds funny car. There’s stuff all over the place. It seems that Bruce saved all of his hot rods and most of his race cars.
I first went there in 2001. I was asked to bring some of my photos to display and sell, which I did. It was almost too much to take in. Racers and their stories seemed to never end. I learned so much from so many. It’s an event you don’t want to end. I have been able to attend roughly 9 times in the past 16 years and always felt very welcome.
Me n Big
This year was extra special as the featured attraction was none other than “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. The place was packed as reportedly 800 people were in attendance to get something signed, get a picture taken, or just share some memories. Don got there at 11:00 am and didn’t stop signing things till a bit past 4:00 pm.
Bruce Larson’s 1966 Chevelle direct from the Garlits Museum
Cars were on display (including Bruce’s ‘66 Chevelle funny car from Garlits’ museum) outside as well including gassers, super stocks, dragsters, rat rods, hot rods, and Oh My! Once again I felt like I was in drag racing heaven. Next years’ event will be the 20th and if you get a chance to go, by all means do so. Rumor has it “Big” may be back.