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Terry Newton is the embodiment of a drag racer being a drag racer, even when the racing surface has changed. Newton became one of Boat Racing’s most popular ‘hitters’ during the ‘90s and early 2000. He retired from active competition only to resurface as the A/Gas pilot of James & Samantha McClure’s attractive red & yellow 1953 Studebaker.
Bakersfield, Ca. CHRR: One of the best A/G machines which appears at the California Hot Rod Reunion on a yearly basis is the McClure family ’53 Studebaker driven by Camarillo, Ca. professional Terry Newton. The outstanding red and yellow screamer is powered by an Alan Johnson motor with a blower and Ederle Fuel Injection. The driver, Newton is a former three time IHBA ‘blown alcohol’ pilot having spent 11 seasons racing drag boats prior to competition in NHRA Nostalgia A/Gas.
Back in 2010 when this writer started my adventure with DRO, Ron Ogilvie and I contacted Phyllis Harmon when the Nostalgia races were headed for Las Vegas. We found her too, along with a complete racing team out of her home town of Tulare in Central California. The car was a brilliant red and yellow early model Studebaker with a super charged engine. Phyllis, whose late husband, Howard, was my first Pro Stock partner in 1970, told us she was the statistician for the team.
The team, owned by James and Samantha McClure from Tulare, went from World Championship drag boat racing to NHRA Nostalgia competition after their Lucas Oil sponsored craft ended up upside down in Red Bluff, California.
Most drag racing historians have certainly heard of Eddie Hill. He had a triple career. First, during the ‘60s, Eddie pioneered several configurations of Pontiac powered Top Fuel dragsters, including an awesome twin engine monster with dual rear slicks. As the ‘70s dawned with the advent of Pro Stock, Hill disappeared from the active drag racing scene. However, like Newton, he did not stop racing, he just switched to water and hydroplane drag boats. After several seasons of notable performances, he was back at the drag strip with a yellow Pennzoil sponsored machine which closed his stellar career.
So there is precedent for Terry Newton’s move from a record holding, four time Competition Hydro and Pro Gas Hydro to a possibly safer (you be the judge) Pro Mod style 1953 Studebaker.