Out of Sight Drags

Words by Rich Berlisk – Photos by Peter Ores

The second annual Out of Sight Drags Friday, June 26th & 27th  is sponsored by the Brew City Gassers and host track Great Lakes Dragaway, Union Grove, WI.  This quarter-mile dragstrip has been in continuous operation since the mid-1950s and has seen some of the biggest iconic names in drag racing. Names like Garlits and Prudholme and many other legends of drag racing memory. What more fitting to honor the early years of drag racing than to see and hear the cars from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s right here at historic GLD. All the entries are pre-1967 vintage dressed up in period-correct battle gear such as tires with no white lettering and mag wheels from that era. Painted steel wheels are popular along with even a set or two chrome reverse steel wheels.

From altered to dragster to gasser to stock and super stock they all showed up to present their love and passion for the old iron. With around two hundred entries spectators and enthusiasts could roam the pit area to photograph or just let their memories take them back to the past. I know as I certainly fell into that dream also.

Moving on to the first day, Friday we found Mother Nature not to be in a cooperative mood as we had rain on and off all morning and afternoon. The excellent track staff at GLD worked extremely hard in keeping the surface dry thus allowing some cars the privilege of getting down the quarter-mile. Late afternoon after 4 pm or so opened a window for some runs to be obtained. My group was just about to head to the staging lanes when we were notified high winds, possible large hail, and heavy rains were only minutes away. We took the warning seriously and put the cars into their trailers. The result was no wind or hail but a real monsoon of rain leaving huge lakes of standing water throughout the pit area. Needless to say, the evening was canceled.

Upon my arrival to the track, around 10 am Saturday I found 95% of the standing water from the previous evening gone. Again the track personnel had their work cut out for them and they got the job done.

We had a hot track after 11 am and some cars took advantage and got in a pass. The track was shut down around 1 pm for prepping the surface around 1 pm for the opening ceremony was to be at 1:30 pm with the singing of our nation’s national anthem and sung by Mark Davis, President of the Brew City Gassers. Great job by Mark in his singing this precious song. To open the show there were several nitro-burning cars followed by gassers and super stocks. The flood gates were then opened with various classes of gassers and other nostalgia cars. The spectators were in for a real treat with eight solid hours of great side by side nostalgia racing. It was fun and great to be a part of. We were also treated to a “cackle fest” from nitro cars. Oh by the way we had sunny to partly cloudy skies the entire day with temps in the upper 80’s.

Special thanks to Mark Davis and the Brew City Gassers for putting this event together along with Marcel and Randy from the legendary Great Lakes Dragaway.

NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD That is where I came across the car.  There was no engine, no floors, and the paint was stripped.  It was begging for somebody to realize what this car was and, more importantly, what it could be again.  I bought the car, not really aware of its history I had also acquired.  There were some old loan papers, tow bills, the original black plate from California and the body tag was intact.  As I started working on it, its background slowly became uncovered. 

Finding and contacting a few previous owners has been extremely helpful, as they have provided me with photographs of the car as it was being raced as well as time slips and pertinent information from several of its previous lives.  I spent two years building the old Orange Peel back, with much of that time spent chasing the correct parts (many were found on or through eBay) before I was able to finally complete the task.  It now has a 502 cu. in. big block Chevy with Enderle fuel injection and Doug Nash five-speed, D-spoke American Magnesium wheels, Vertex magneto, mechanical tach and all the other features to take it back to that old school feel.

I’ve made a few trips to the strip now and, with some fixes over the winter due to a couple of broken parts, I think we’ll be ready for some great nostalgic racing this coming season!


Call Dennis today at 515-282-9996