Ken Rappaport -
Week Three Winner

New York National Speedway 1967

I was 12 years old and while fingering through the newspaper there was an ad for a new dragstrip on Long Island: New York National Speedway.


I talked my dad into taking my best friend and myself on Sunday. My dad -- not a car guy -- dropped us off and sat in the parking lot and read a book. We wandered the spectator side of the track watching doorslammer after doorslammer and an occasional gasser make its way down the track. Then I noticed the atmosphere change.

The fellow spectators all focused their attention the end of the track  where what looked like two bicycle wheels poked out of the fence. Then the car, something like I had never seen before, was pushed out and down the return road. About half way down the road the rail came to life with a cackle echoing off the grandstands.

After making the turn towards the track, the crew jumped out of their station wagon and ceremoniously pulled and pushed the car to get it pointed down the track. The dragster, driver visible and clad in silver, pulled the car to the line.

The tree flashed green and the car disappeared down the track in a cloud of smoke and beautiful noise. The smell of nitro hung in the air and the crowd went crazy.

At that moment my life’s direction changed forever; I had a new purpose that I still pursue 48 years later.