DALE EMERY 1939-2018
We’ve lost another of drag racing’s pioneers with the passing of Dale “the Snail” Emery. Dale is best known as the driving talent behind Rich Guasco’s Pure Hell 1932 Bantam Aa/fuel Altered roadster, but to simply label him as a retired fuel altered driver would be doing the man a great disservice.
Dale got his start driving a pretty potent ’41 Chevrolet B/gas coupe around the San Francisco Bay Area before stepping into the Oldsmobile-engine AA/GD of Emery &
Fuller. Then along came Pure Hell, which was known as something of an erratic handler with its nitro-fed blown Chevrolet smallblock, but Dale whipped the car into shape and made a name for both himself and Pure Hell up and down the West Coast. In 1968, Guasco and Emery installed a blown 392 Chrysler in Pure Hell and set the fuel altered ranks on its ear, recording a best 7.27/218.00 prior to parking the altered in early 1970.
Life after Pure Hell included driving assignments in the K&P Wailer and Rousin & O’hare AA/FDS; wheel time in Gary “Paddy Wagon” Watson’s Flying Red Baron Mustang wheelstander; a brief stint in Bob Riggle’s Hemi Under Glass Pontiac Firebird AA/ FC; and teaming with performance parts mogul Jeg Coughlin to drive the Jegs Logghe Mini Camaro. Their crowning achievement was winning Funny Car Eliminator over Frank Hall at the 1974 NHRA Winternationals.
After Coughlin and Emery parted ways, Dale took a driving assignment with “Big Mike” Burkhart, wheeling his Chevrolet Monza and Mini Camaro floppers. An unfortunate top-end crash at the 1975 U.S. Nationals put an end to Dale’s driving days, but it led to a 14-year association with Raymond Beadle as crew chief on the Blue Max Racing team, which included three consecutive Nhra-winston Funny Car World Championships in 1979, 1980, and 1981.
Life after Blue Max Racing led to some very interesting projects for Dale, including making numerous advances in Top Fuel and Funny Car fuel systems technology. He also became associated with John Rodek on a run of billet aluminum 392 Chrysler Hemi blocks.
Dale spent his final days in semi-retirement living in Little Elm, Texas, with his wife, Belinda, working as a consultant for various Top Fuel and Funny Car teams. Dale died March 16, 2018, of congestive heart failure at 79 years old. —BOB MCCLURG
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