VOLUME XXI, NUMBER 4 - APRIL, 2019
DRAGRACINGOnline will be published on or around the 8th of each month and will be updated throughout the month.
DRAGRACINGOnline owes allegiance to no sanctioning body and will call 'em as we see 'em. We strive for truth,integrity, irreverence and the betterment of drag racing. We have no agenda other than providing the drag racing public with unbiased information and view points they can't get in any other drag racing publication.
Editor & Publisher, CEO Jeff Burk
Managing Editor, COO Kay Burk
Editor at Large, Bret Kepner
Editor at Large, Emeritus Chris Martin
Bracket Racing Editor, Jok Nicholson
Motorcycle Editor, Tom McCarthy
Nostalgia Editor, Brian Losness
Contributing Writers, Jim Baker, Steven Bunker, Aaron Polburn, Matt Strong
European Correspondent, Ivan Sansom
Poet Laureate, Bob Fisher
Cartoonists, Jeff DeGrandis, Kenny Youngblood
Senior Photographer - Ron Lewis
Contributing Photographers - Aaron Anderson, Scott Bessee, Donna Bistran, Steven Bunker, Pam Conrad, Adam Cranmer, James Drew, Don Eckert, Steve Embling, Jamie Shores Fraijo, Mike Garland, Joel Gelfand, Steve Gruenwald, Chris Haverly, Rose Hughes, Bob Johnson, Bret Kepner, "Bad" Brad Klaassen, Jon LeMoine, Eddie Maloney, Tim Marshall, Matt Mothershed, Richard Muir, Joe McHugh, Dennis Mothershed, Ivan Sansom, Paul Schmitz, Dave Stoltz,
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Director: Casey Araiza
Director: Dave Ferrato
Webmonkey: Axel G.
Production Monkey: Axel G.
Looking Forward to the Ignitor and ...
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Editor & Publisher
CEO Jeff Burk
COO Kay Burk
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Director: Casey Araiza
Director: Dave Ferrato
Contact: Casey Araiza
Krabill ‘blows up real good’ at ...
In round 2 of the Ignitor at Boise’s Firebird Raceway pitted Bobby Cottrell, ...
Capps breaks through, ...
In Funny Car, Ron Capps secured his first win of the 2019 season in his NAPA ...
‘New’ AMRA starts season at Beech ...
The venerable American Motorcycle Racing Association (AMRA) changed ownership ...
Boise’s ‘Ignitor’ will set the ...
Brian Losness has written his latest Getting Nostalgic about this weekend’s ...
Three-in-one weekend held at ...
The annual Mid-West Pro Mods, PSCA Heads-up Hootenanny and Super Chevy Show ...
Torrence, Langdon, Hines top ...
Shawn Langdon picked up his first Funny Car win at the 10th annual NGK Spark ...
Laughlin, Nobile to drive ...
Elijah Morton has announced that Alex Laughlin will drive his second Mustang ...
Sampey to run full season with ...
DRO’s Motorcycle Editor, Tom McCarthy, says that although Angelle Sampey ...
ET DRAG RACING
The Nitro Joint w / "Chicago Jon" Hoffman
"The Magical Mystery Tour is hoping to take you away,
Hoping to take you away..."
- The BEATLES, 1967
Greetings and salutations, one and all, come and climb on board for the maiden voyage of the Chicago Jon Ghost Tours Bus! We hope you'll have a great time as we explore some of the former sights here in Illinois of things that were awesome in their time. (Actually, I think most of you are here because you couldn't afford the fifty-one bucks for the TMZ bus tour, but anyway...) Be sure to at all times keep your hands, feet and other appendages within the confines of the bus. (Tommy LEE, I'm talking to YOU!) So, as they famously said in Animal House...ROAD TRIP!
As we arrive at our first stop, the corner of Tara and Wonderland Avenue in Alton, Illinois, may just seem like any other trailer park, but look closer. Those two lanes that run the length of the place were, from 1958 to 1972, ALTON DRAGWAY, a mere stone’s throw from the Drag Racing Online Mothership. Granted, you'd need Willie Mays’ ARM to hit the venerable Phlegm Building from here, but yeah, real close. History was made here as Chris “The Golden Greek” Karamesines broke the 200-mph barrier on April 4, 1960, with a clocking of 8.82 at 204.54 mph on this hallowed ground. Alton hosted countless races throughout the years, but the actual reasons for its closing has never been properly answered. If only that asphalt could talk – and, trust me, it looks like the ACTUAL original track.
As we head south on Hwy 31, if you look to your right you'll see 348 N. State, which to this day is some entrepreneur’s automotive shop. But in the early '70s, it was BUD RICHTER AUTOMOTIVE, home base for the legendary “Gold Digger” Mustang Funny Car. Even though they were a low budget match race type of operation, they still kicked ass and took names. When you have the trophy on your shelf from the 1971 Popular Hot Rodding Championships, yeah, "you're GOOD." That deal was looked upon as a national event at the time. OK, gang, POP-QUIZ time, stick your hand in the air if you know who driver Gary Bolger beat in the semi-finals? Yes, you are right, Tommy Lee, it WAS Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, and I distinctly said to stick your HAND in the air, so put the mouse back in the house, OK?
The Chicago Jon Ghost Tour Bus is now headed northbound on Illinois Route 31, but before we reach our final destination, we're pulling into what is now Raceway Woods. But in 1968, drag racing RULED at what was then Meadowdale International Raceway. Purpose-built as a Grand Prix track, it never gathered sufficient steam and was in constant flux. But in the spring of 1968, with a new management team on board, a new tower was built and for the first time the grandstands were packed for NHRA-sanctioned drag racing. (Yes, I have seen the official document, signed by Pappy Hart himself.) Noted racing historian Dennis Doubleday has recently "found the gold on Oak Island" and unearthed some photos from a large funny car race at the track, with the sprawling Fox Valley in the background. Sadly, there was a "wolf in the henhouse" and someone cooked the books and fleeced the new team of their operating capital, closing for good the track, dream, and pet project of original builder Leonard Besinger.
Our last stop is on the outskirts of Crystal Lake, Illinois, in a cornfield. Much like the one movie that is in EVERY Hot Rodders collection, 1973’s AMERICAN GRAFITTI, we have sought out the little rock station on the edge of town. Rock radio and drag racing have a long history; I mean people that never even WENT to a race will hear the word “dragster” and promptly sing out "Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!” If you grew up in the '60s or '70s, you knew those radio spots, and they were played a LOT.
My July 2016 column dealt with racing songs, of which there are too many to count. Hmm … hey bus riders, how many rock songs are there about TENNIS? Yeah, I thought so. But sadly, this little anomaly was taken from us this month, blasting its last song (Neil Young’s ROCKING IN THE FREE WORLD) just past 1 p.m. on Monday, April 8. The station, 103.9 The FOX, started out in one direction, but over time, grew, morphed, threw the script out the window, and evolved into a one of a kind DREAM station. I became friends with everyone there, and they have all gone on record as saying they never in their lives had an experience ANYTHING like being a part of The Fox. (And everyone has robust resumes of careers in radio, so it speaks volumes.)
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