Well, I'm back safely from yet another Big Go and ready to make up for lost time. I looked at the Last updated tag on the home page yesterday when I arrived back in SoCal and saw that it had been a whole week since I had posted. Wow, sorry about that.
Quite a few people stopped by the pressroom with ramp-truck stories and photos, but because I didn't want to take their only copies, I had them promise to scan and e-mail me copies so I can share them here. There's some really neat stuff coming.
I also received a visit there from "King Richard" Tharp, a past Indy winner, who was looking for a large version of this photo of the famed Blue Max Funny Car on a ramp truck in the parking lot of the Marco Polo motel in Anaheim, Calif. That was Tharp's ride at the time, and to hear him talk about the car at length, it clearly was one of his favorites.
He said that he's pretty sure that this photo was taken just before the great Sylmar earthquake that struck Southern California Feb. 19, 1971, and that he and car owner Harry Schmidt wasted no time getting out of Dodge after being rocked out of their beds.
He regaled the ND staff with many great stories from over the years and left me with contact info that I'll definitely be using for future columns, both here and in National DRAGSTER.
I told him that I was there for his final win -- at the 1983 Springnationals, which was my first national event on the road for ND – a victory run that seemed to include the supercharger flying off the manifold of the Kilpatrick & Connell car at the end of every pass. Tharp, who maintains a memory for facts and figures, explained that it wasn't until the next race in Montreal, when Leonard Hughes came to their pit to find out what the hell the team was doing wrong with his former driver's tune-up, that they discovered they had a faulty hydrometer that was reading as much as 8 percent under on the nitro mix. Problem solved!
Anyway, here's the latest batch of reader ramp-truck remembrances and offerings.
Brad Barrie sent this shot of a rather unique Chevy ramp truck and hopes that someone might know of its lineage. "I bought this '53 Chevy ramp truck from a racer in SoCal in 2003," he reported. "He used it since the early '80s to haul this white '55. I use it now to haul my race cars around. Very cool stuff; I'm hoping someone may have a shot of it prior to the '80s, and find out where it came from originally."
Frequent Insider contributor Bobby Frey, of the Frantic Ford team, sent this photo, shot by Warren Bader, of the truck that Jim Fox "ran all over the country for many, many years. I remember as a kid heading up to S&W Race Cars one time when it was raining out and the water came straight up through the rusted-out floorboards; you had to throw a towel down on the floor to stay dry." Ah, life on the road. Glamorous, no?
What follows is a huge selection of ramp-truck photos from Bob Snyder (I actually only received two of the three e-mails he sent, so there are still more bouncing around cyberspace), and it presents a host of famous (and not-so-famous) cars of the early 1970s. As I mentioned previously – and to which I received many an "Amen!" – it's as cool to see the cars themselves as it is to see them strapped to the trucks.
Anyway, I'll leave you for the day with nearly three dozen great shots from Bob that should feed your ramp-truck addiction for a while.
Mel Perry's Norwood Chevrolet Chevelle
The Bloody Red Baron AWB Mopar
Al Graeber's Tickle Me Pink Charger
Bruce Neff's The Stroker Camaro AA/FC
Jim Maybeck's Screaming Eagle Corvair
Sam Gelber's Inferno Nova
"Jungle Jim" Liberman
Lew Arrington's Brutus
"Fearless Fred" Goeske's Duster
Arnie Beswick's Super Judge GTO
All covered up ...
Mike Burkhart Doran Chevrolet Novs
Charlie Wilson's Firebird flopper
Clyde Morgan-driven Dickie Harrell Camaro
"Big Mike" Burkhart's Doran Chevrolet Camaro
Bob and Rico Gunya's Warrior Camaro
Dick Bishop's Maerick Pro Stocker
Headed down the road ...
Larry Christopherson' Vega
Ken Poffenberger's (ex-Prudhomme) Super Puffer Cuda
Terry Ivey's shotgun-powered Maverick
Wayne Mahaffey's Super GoldenRod Nova
Dee Simmons' Camaro
Jerry Caminito's Holeshot Mustang
Della Woods' Funny Honey
Kenny Warren's injected fuel Cuda
Lou Azar's Funny Gremlin
Lee Jones' Camaro
Candies & Hughes
Connie Kalitta's Bounty Hunter Mustang
The famed Tom McEwen ramp truck (with ramps!)
Gene Conway's SticksUnlimited Corvette
Chris Karamesines' short-lived Mustang