NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Phil's Photo Follies

My fan photos; New Years Eve with Bill Bader and the Mazis
31 Dec 2007
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

My entry last Thursday showing the destruction of the Pomona tower mentioned another tower, located at the rear of the track, that some readers said they'd never seen, so I dug out this photo I took at the 1980 Winternationals. I was a fan then, more than two years from coming to work at NHRA, and remember taking the photo not of the tower but of the lunatics behind the tower, who had erected some scaffolding atop a stakebed truck to see over the fence and watch the drags for free. The thing was three rows high and packed; it's a wonder they didn't all break their necks. Anyway, while riffling through boxes looking for this particular picture, I stumbled across a treasure trove of other images I'd taken over the years. Now, no one likes to sit through someone else's endless vacation pictures, but I thought maybe I could get away with this because, hey, we're all drag fans, right? Most of these were taken before I was anyone and were shot for my own amusement. I fancied myself quite the news photographer back then; the talent may have been raw but the ambition was there. Anyway, there's some interesting historical stuff here, and just fun to look at. Consider it an extended version of Stuff In My Office. We can call it Photos In My Place. Or something. Enjoy.

Probably the first pic I took at the drags. This is Doug Cook in the S-W-C Swindler IV at Irwindale in 1972. Dig that deluxe trailer.

Same race, with my favorite car of the '70s, the Warren-Coburn-Miller Rain for Rent Top Fueler. It really hauled.

I can't get in trouble now, but me and my buddy C. Van Tune faked up photo credentials and got on the starting line at Irwindale in 1976 for this shot of Prudhomme's famed Army Monza.
Kenny Bernstein's debut in the Bud King, Pomona 1980, didn't go so well. Against eventual winner Dale Pulde, Bernstein smoked the tires in round one and tagged the guardrail. The fans loved it.
Pomona 1981: The Blue Max becomes a convertible in winning the semis. We all know what happened next ...

The roof of Bernstein's Bud King is grafted onto the Max, which ran the final round as a "redhead."

We've all seen Don Gillespie's amazing shot of Mike Dunn vaporizing the Hawaiian Punch Charger at the '83 Finals ...

Guess who was standing just behind him in the top-end stands at OCIR ... and whose head got in the way of me being famous.

Not many people, including me when I snapped this photo at the Winternationals, knew who Austin Coil was in 1980, and those who did had no idea what he was destined for the next decade.

Serendipity. How else do you explain Dale Pulde friend Jim Trace standing beside the War Eagle, Pomona 1980, when I snapped this pic. Less than 10 years later, we were both working at NHRA.

And finally, with this being New Year's Eve and all, I dragged out these old Polaroids I shot on New Years Eve 1985. You might recognize some of the folks here. This was back in Eastlake, Ohio, at the house of the Mazis (see entries below). Dawn remembers the year because, like any real Clevelander, she remembered it as the year of the Browns' devastating playoff loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Above left we have Bill Bader Sr., of Summit Raceway Park (nee Norwalk Raceway Park), who, for some reason is wearing a crown and holding court with Freddie Hahn and Fred's wife Karen. Hahn and his Satan's Revenge altered were a regular on the Supercharged Outlaws circuit that the Mazis ran and, of course, went on to become a Pro Mod champ. The center photo shows Frank and Dawn -– again for unknown reasons, but probably spirit-inspired -– wrestling Kelly Bader (Bill's middle child) to the ground. And, of course, what New Year's Eve party would be complete without Bill Sr. getting a face full of confetti? That was fun. Hope you’re having fun, too, tonight (safe fun, of course). Happy New Year!