I have to "hand" it to you guys. Wednesday's column about promotional handbills and flyers prompted a mini flood of submissions of some of your favorites, which no doubt will revive a lot of memories.
Gary Crumrine sadly (and correctly) noted, "The match racing scene was where it was at before drag racing got so professional, and we will never see this again. That is where the drivers made their money and reputations. As a kid from the Midwest, match racing was the only game in town. Gassers ruled, and maybe once a year, you might get a Funny show … but the remainder of the year, it was blood and guts gassers laying it on the line week in and week out. These posters bring back a lot of good memories."
Jim Mullis, a self-described avid reader of this column, attended races at Charlotte Motor Speedway long before Bruton Smith came up with zMax Dragway. Mullis reported that they used to run on the eighth-mile down pit road for years and passed along these handouts for races at the Charlotte track. I did a little Photoshop magic to include the front cover of the form on the left and the inside on the right.
The first one is for the inaugural NHRA Southern National Drag Championship in 1971, featuring eight Top Fuelers, eight Funny Cars, 32 Pro Stockers (plus a four-way match between Bill Jenkins, Don Nicholson, Sox & Martin, and Don Carlton), and a full slate of Sportsman action. Tickets were $6 for Saturday and $8 for Sunday, or you could buy a two-day advance combo pack for just $10, $15 if you wanted reserved seats. Such a deal!
The summer 1972 BigWays Radio 61 International Drag Championship had a similar lineup and ticket prices. It featured a pretty stout field of floppers: "Jungle Jim" Liberman, Don Schumacher, Roger Lindamood, the Hawaiian, the Fighting Irish, the L.A. Hooker, and more. Mullis pointed out that the photos of Schumacher and Jim Murphy's Holy Smokes entry are inadvertently reversed.
David Graves of Dallas passed along a pair of postcards that replicated the race posters for the 1969 and 1970 NHRA World Finals, both held at Dallas Int'l Motor Speedway. "They were issued by DIMS, [but] not exact as I have a number of the old posters, and the postcards and posters don’t match exactly, but these postcards were kind of a summary of the poster. Bill Neale (website, www.billneale.com) did the artwork I believe on every major event at DIMS from '69 to '71, which included the drags and road racing events. I attended the '70 World Finals (my first NHRA national) and '71 Springs, then IHRA took over the strip, and I attended all of the national events they held until it shut down in the spring of 1973."
Bill Moser also shared more of his wonderful stuff from Muncie, including flyers from the 1965 Blast of the Season match race between "Ohio George" Montgomery and his A/GS Willys and Mr. Norm's 1965 Dodge early Funny Car; the 1966 Gold Cup Championships (including "fantastic wheelie exhibitions by 'Space-man Scottie' Scott's World's Wildest Corvair"); and a cool 1966 battle between the topless flops of Ed Rachanski and Kelly Chadwick (a somewhat risque one, edited by me for your comfort).
I also came across an older e-mail from Rick Rzepka with a few more from Motor City, including for the 1967 opener (featuring E.J. Potter's wild two-wheeler) and a three-race promo for 1967 that includes the famed Green Monster jet car (April 2), a match race between "Big Daddy" Don Garlits and "T.V. Tommy" Ivo (April 9), and one of the all-time greatest rivalries in our sport's history, Stone-Woods-Cook vs. "Big John" Mazmanian (April 16). That was some month!
Geoff Bradley e-mailed a copy of the flyer that started this whole thing, the Piranha vs. Darrell Droke match, because he's still friends with Droke. Bradley reported that Droke beat the Piranha in two straight that night, even though the track manager had asked him to lose the second one so that the fans could see them run three times. He declined. "Darrell said, 'What if I break or crash?' He said that [the Piranha] could mph but not e.t. Darrell also stated to me that his Mustang would start to 'fly' nearing the finish line and that's why he stopped racing it."
A lot of readers out there have sharp memories, but the award for sharpest eye has to go to my self-appointed grammar policeman, Rob Doss. Doss campaigned the High Horse wheelstander from 1967 to 1969 in the eastern and central states, and he's also obviously well-trained in the English language. Of late (just kidding, Rob … I mean "lately" or "recently"), I've been receiving an e-mail from him every week or so pointing out errors in grammar or word usage and helpful suggestions.
This week, before taking me to task (more on that in a moment), he spotted conflicts in the day/date on the first poster in Wednesday's column. Obviously, there cannot be a Saturday, July 22, and a Sunday, July 29, in the same year. I did some research, and it turns out that in 1967, July 22 and July 29 were Saturdays, but because of 1968's leap year, there was no Sunday, July 29, even the next year; it was on a Monday. Ditto for the "coming" race for Sunday, Aug. 5 … no such thing in that time frame. The previous Sunday, Aug. 5, was in 1962 and the next one not until 1973. Thus, I'm guessing that this was a 1967 poster.
Which brings me back to Doss' second point and this week's butt-chewing. "I have to talk to you like a dad, which I'm old enough to be," he wrote. "When writing about the artwork, you chose to demean them with the statement: 'They reek of amateurism.' They were for the most part amateurs, doing things in the way they were done 40-plus years ago. They didn't have your million-dollar publishing software running on a Cray under UNIX. You owe them an apology, in my old-fashioned opinion. You made you look little."
I apologize. I know what I meant to say but obviously didn't do a good job. I'm sure that the hands that put them together were skilled and artistic and patient (I can’t imagine the amount of time that went into some of them), but, as Doss noted, compared to today's slick brochures that Photoshop and Quark and similar programs have made accessible and easy for anyone, it's easy to dismiss old efforts as being rather crude. That was not my intention at all. I actually very much dig them.
Sorry, teach. Oh, and hey, if anyone has a photo of the High Horse, Doss is looking for some. Send 'em to me, and I'll pass them along.
OK, that's it for the day. I'll see you guys next week.