Tom Gondal -
Week Two Winner


My 1950 Plymouth wagon.

As a kid growing up in the late 1950s and early ’60s, I had always loved drag racing. I built model cars that were popular, especially the customs. There weren't many drag car models on the market but some slowly appeared. The one I remember building was Stone, Woods & Cook. I was hooked on the gassers from the time I was reading about them in Hot Rod and Car Craft magazines.

I was 12 years old in 1962 and became a big fan of drag racing. My dad would always go out Friday nights to get pizza for our family and he would always stop at the local drug store to see if there was a new hot rod magazine out that I hadn't seen. There was nothing better than eating pizza and perusing through a new hot rod magazine.

Then in the summer of 1963 I was turning 13 and Maple Grove Drag-O-Way had opened near Reading, Pa.; to be exact it is in a little town called Mohnton, Pa. I had heard about the new drag strip but being only 13 I was hardly in a position to drive there myself.

So, to my surprise, my dad comes to me on the 13th birthday and says he and I are going to the drags. I was beside myself with excitement and anticipation. The big day came and as we came up over the hill that leads into the race area, I saw for the first time a real drag strip with really cool racecars and dragsters.

My dad and I spent the whole day there and I even had a Brownie camera that dad brought along to take some pictures. My dad was not a total nut on racing and hot rods as I had become, but he took me there because I was.

We only went there one time that year, but we did go back the next year when I turned 14. His schedule allowed him very little time and I had sisters he also spent time with along with my mom.

Sadly, the following year I lost my dad at the age of 40. I still remember the first time he took me to the drags and to this day I have been to Maple Grove at least one time every year since. I have been going there for 50 years and have seen many changes in racing and Maple Grove. I have always wondered what my dad would think of the racecars today.

Thanks, dad!