In the Words of Freiburger…

Hot Rod - - Contents - By David Freiburger Road­kill @david­freiburger

At some time—nearly in­stan­ta­neously, for me—driv­ing your car to lo­cal cruise-ins and car shows gets bor­ing. I ap­pre­ci­ate that many peo­ple thrive on telling peo­ple about their cars from atop a lawn-chair thrown, but to me, cars were meant for mo­bile ad­ven­ture. HOT ROD has en­livened this with 1,000-plus-mile driv­ing events like Power Tour and Drag Week, but I also en­cour­age go­ing solo. Noth­ing, even the me­chan­i­cal build-up process, can bond you to a ve­hi­cle like a road trip—or prefer­ably many of them.

But where should you go? Some folks get trapped in the feel­ing that they can do noth­ing if it’s not an ideal bucket-list trek, like to the Bon­neville Speed Week, the Indy 500, or the Gar­l­its Mu­seum, to name a few. But you can create your own mini-ad­ven­tures that are just as re­ward­ing and less daunt­ing. The point is to create ex­cuses to drive, then go. This plan can also make busi­ness trips and rental cars more in­ter­est­ing as you ex­pand your new­found hobby na­tion­wide.

Here’s one of the goals I’ve picked: find­ing and vis­it­ing dragstrips or for­mer track lo­ca­tions. I may have ripped this off from my friend Brian Lohnes (the NHRA an­nouncer and host of Put Up or Shut Up on Mo­tor Trend and Mo­tor­head Garage on Ve­loc­ity), or per­haps we both started around the same time. He’s for­ever go­ing to smoke me with nearly 170 tracks vis­ited so far, while my num­ber is a weak 90 (though I’ve raced down 30 of them, trump­ing Lohnes by a lot). We’ve prob­a­bly done 20 first-time vis­its to­gether, in­clud­ing five dur­ing this year’s Drag Week. A few other guys have done dozens or hun­dreds more.

The “rules” are that any lo­ca­tion that cur­rently or formerly hosted an of­fi­cially sanc­tioned drag race on paved ground is fair to add to our lists, as is an old dirt strip orig­i­nally in­tended for pas­sen­ger cars (yup, many tracks of the 1950s be­gan on hard­pack). There­fore, Wood­ward Av­enue in Pon­tiac, Michi­gan, in front of M1 Con­course, counts be­cause we have hosted three Road­kill Nights drag races on the street there. Same goes for the pit road at Kansas Speed­way and the park­ing lot at the for­mer Sil­ver­dome. While it’s sig­nif­i­cantly less re­ward­ing, it also counts if you visit lo­ca­tions va­cant of rac­ing rem­nants. Been to the cor­ner of Hal­stead and 42nd in Chicago? Well, then you’ve been to the for­mer lo­ca­tion of the Chicago In­ter­na­tional Am­phithe­ater, where in­door drags were held three times from 1962 to 1964. Ever flown into John Wayne Air­port in Orange Coun­try, Cal­i­for­nia? Then you’ve been to the scene of the Santa Ana drags, the first sanc­tioned track in the world. Add that one to your list.

The tracks with some arche­o­log­i­cal value are the best. I re­call vis­it­ing Ari­zona’s Bee Line Drag­way in the mid-1980s be­fore the aban­doned tower was ei­ther fenced or awash with graf­fiti (it was torn down in 2015). More re­cently, I was at for­mer Raisin City Drag­way in Cal­i­for­nia, a track once man­aged by leg­endary pro­moter Blackie Ge­jeian, and mar­veled that the orig­i­nal tower still stood and the base­ment still had the mark­ings for where the Christ­mas tree was stored. On­line re­search showed that the build­ing had been moved from a lo­cal air­port where it was the con­trol tower, adding to the lore. This also makes the point that the in­ter­net can be used to both dis­cover and re­search many of these old lo­ca­tions.

Ex­e­cut­ing road-trip goals like mine will lead to dis­cov­ery of your car, your­self, Amer­ica in gen­eral, and in­ter­est­ing side notes such as small towns, junk­yards, cars for sale, and much more. It’s one of the most en­rich­ing as­pects of our hobby. I hope you dive in.

Fol­low us @ hotrod­magazine

[ Here is B-Lohnes at the be­yond-rus­tic Mid­lands Drag Strip in Lu­goff, South Carolina.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.