Drag Racer - - Contents - Text by Dave Wal­lace

High­lights From the Sec­ond Half of 1965

IF YOU WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE ALIVE IN ’65 AND PAY­ING AT­TEN­TION, YOU MAY WELL HAVE EX­PE­RI­ENCED THE GOLDENEST SIN­GLE SEA­SON OF DRAG RAC­ING’S GOLDEN AGE. It was also among the dead­li­est ever, par­tic­u­larly for dragster driv­ers: among the fa­tal­i­ties re­ported in the weekly drag rags were Denny Mil­iani, Lou Can­gelose, Tex Ran­dall, “Q-Ball” Wale, Charles Mi­nor, Leon

Hamel, Dave Danger­field and Gary Tay­lor. Un­known num­bers of lesser-knowns also per­ished at the many ob­scure tracks op­er­at­ing un­der the me­dia’s radar. (See for ex­am­ples.)

Not coin­ci­den­tally, quar­ter­mile per­for­mance im­proved at a rate never seen be­fore, and rarely since. Stocker fans amazed in Jan­uary by al­tered wheel base, car­bu­reted Dodges and Ply­mouths smash­ing the 10-sec­ond bar­rier saw elapsed times plunge to 8.63 by Novem­ber when Gary Dyer and “Mr. Norm” Kraus stormed Lions Drag Strip with the for­mer Color Me Gone fac­tory car, now sport­ing a blower and ni­tro.

This type of ve­hi­cle was still so fresh and trans­for­ma­tive that the sport had not yet set­tled on a com­mon name; in print, the new term “funny car” was still ex­pressed in lower case and in­side quo­ta­tion marks. At the NHRA Na­tion­als, some spon­sored Fac­tory Ex­per­i­men­tals dis­rupted tra­di­tional sports­man rac­ing by in­ten­tion­ally mov­ing into al­tered and dragster classes.

Also this Novem­ber, Top

Fuel fans who’d cheered the first be­liev­able dou­ble-cen­tury speeds only last sum­mer watched the clocks climb all the way up to Paul Suther­land's 219.50—a full 10% in­crease that Drag World’s Terry Cook at­trib­uted to a com­bi­na­tion of Crower port noz­zles, “sticky Goodyears” and B&M’s Tork­mas­ter re­plac­ing the clutch in some of the fastest fu­el­ers. Drag Sport Il­lus­trated’s year-end re­view fur­ther cred­ited the “Flexy-Flyer” chas­sis from Woody Gil­more’s Race Car Engi­neer­ing.

How­ever, the world's win­ningest wire-wheeled car was Roland Leong’s Hawai­ian, a near-du­pli­cate of Kent Fuller’s feared Greer, Black & Prud­homme rail. The re­united com­bi­na­tion of chas­sis-builder Fuller, en­gine-builder Keith Black and pilot Don Prud­homme pre­vailed at both of NHRA’s big­gest, old­est na­tional events, the Win­ter­na­tion­als and Na­tion­als. In be­tween Pomona and Indy, the Hawai­ian also won more than its share of open events and was prac­ti­cally un­beat­able in na­tion­wide match races. The fi­nal Drag World of 1965 broke the shock­ing news that the Snake would quit Roland to take over the B&M shop car from Kenny Saf­ford, re­tain­ing Dave Zeuschel as tuner and tu­tor.

The United Drag Rac­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, the most ef­fec­tive driv­ers’ union in his­tory, grew to 1,200 dues-pay­ing mem­bers, but suf­fered from class war­fare and ir­repara­ble dam­age from a failed wild­cat strike called by in­di­vid­ual mem­bers Frank Can­non and Woody Gil­more at Lions. At is­sue was man­ager C.J. Hart’s low­er­ing of the usual $500 win­ner’s purse to $300 on Dec. 4, a night when Chris Karamesines and Tom McEwen were each guar­an­teed $1,000 to match race. (Af­ter all but a few of his Top Fuel com­peti­tors de­cided to race, boy­cott leader Can­non called them “finks” to re­porters.)

Ad­di­tional high­lights and low­lights are il­lus­trated by the clip­pings on these pages. Of the three na­tional week­lies, Drag World is get­ting the lion’s share of space for de­liv­er­ing con­sis­tently ex­cel­lent re­port­ing through­out 1965, and be­cause the con­tro­ver­sial tabloid would all too soon be sold and be­come AHRA’s house or­gan, as we’ll see in fu­ture episodes.

More­over, while this in­stall­ment of “Pa­per Trails” was tak­ing shape, found­ing Drag World As­so­ci­ate Edi­tor Terry Cook coughed up cherry copies of 53-year-old is­sues suitable for scan­ning and shar­ing with Drag Racer read­ers.

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