PAPER TRAILS, PART 12

Two Week­lies, One Week of Novem­ber 1964

Drag Racer - - CONTENTS - Text by Dave Wal­lace

ANY GEARHEAD LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE LIVED OUT WEST IN THE '50S AND '60S WILL INSIST THAT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WAS THE CEN­TER OF THE UNIVERSE FOR HOT-ROD­DING AND DRAG RACING. Yes, there will al­ways be de­niers who swear that some lo­cal scene else­where was equal to, if not bet­ter than, the coast's, just un­fairly un­der­rep­re­sented in news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines that just hap­pened to pub­lish in the L.A. area. The real rea­son that

SoCal got so much press cov­er­age, goes their ar­gu­ment, is that the week­lies and month­lies were there. His­to­rian and NHRA Motorsports Mu­seum Cu­ra­tor Greg Sharp, a prod­uct of the car-crazy Long Beach-San Pe­dro re­gion, coun­ters, “That's ex­actly back­wards: The news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines were here be­cause the ac­tion was here, and all year 'round, street or strip.”

Indis­putable ev­i­dence un­ex­pect­edly emerged dur­ing re­search for the pre­vi­ous episode of “Paper Trails,” which in­volved the last six months of 1964 (see “Paper Trails, Part 11,” pg. 68, Sept. 2017). We were struck by how much “off­sea­son” ac­tiv­ity was re­ported in same-week edi­tions of Drag News and Drag Sport Il­lus­trated fol­low­ing a rainy L.A. week­end. At a time of year when strips across most of Amer­ica were ei­ther already shut­tered for win­ter or just host­ing low-risk sportsman classes, open Top Fuel shows and ma­jor match races con­tin­ued out here. Most tracks ran Sun­days, though two of the best known, Lions Drag Strip and Fon­tana In­ter­na­tional Drag­way, hosted weekly pro shows right through fall and win­ter.

Be­cause C.J. Hart ran his week­end fea­ture pro­grams on Satur­day nights, Lions es­caped the Sun­day rain­fall that shut down other SoCal strips. Top Fuel­ers were his Hal­loween head­lin­ers, but sur­prise-en­trant Jack Chris­man stole the show—just as he had at NHRA's Na­tion­als that sum­mer—along with DSI's cover with the nitro-burn­ing Sachs & Son Comet. It's im­pos­si­ble to over­state this com­pact's im­pact, both at the time and for­ever more. Orig­i­nally suc­cess­ful for Chris­man and Bill Shrews­berry as a le­gal A/FXer, the re­con­fig­ured fu­eler made tire­fry­ing ex­hi­bi­tion sin­gles of 10.71/147.54, 10.72/151.26 and 10.67/149.50 here.

What par­tic­u­larly im­pressed us about the soggy Oct. 31-Nov. 1 week­end was how all of L.A. got rain that Sun­day, yet the sub­se­quent is­sues of both weekly tabloids gath­ered suf­fi­cient news, ru­mors, hu­mor, ac­tion pho­tos and ad­ver­tise­ments—mostly in­volv­ing lo­cal ac­tiv­ity—to ink 24 pages in Drag News plus 12 in Drag Sport Il­lus­trated (DSI). As a re­sult, be­fore we bid farewell to the 1964 sea­son, this en­tire in­stall­ment is de­voted to those re­spec­tive, competitive edi­tions, each cover-dated Satur­day, Nov. 7 (and on sale the pre­vi­ous Wed­nes­day). To read ei­ther pub­li­ca­tion in its en­tirety, on screen, PDF page scans are avail­able on disc from Wd­ifl.com.

Coin­ci­den­tally, the front page of the other weekly tabloid fea­tured Arnie Beswick in the world's other su­per­charged “stocker” (fol­low­ing the pre­ma­ture end of the ground­break­ing, now-grounded Dodge Charg­ers). The Farmer took two rounds and Phil Bon­ner won once be­fore rain in­ter­rupted Hous­ton's best-of-five (!) match race. The gas-burn­ing GTO was much quicker and faster, clock­ing 10.36 at 140.42. For­rest Bond shot the up­per photo, while Bill Hughes pho­tographed Pete Robin­son's suc­cess­ful At­lanta de­fense of his num­ber one spot on the all-im­por­tant Drag News Mr. Elim­i­na­tor List. Chal­lenger Norm Weekly lost this round to a red light

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