Make Your
Street Rod Safe

For Your Own Safety


like street rods. I had one, a flamed ’37 Chevy coupe, for a dozen years. Traded it for my ex-Super Gas ’73 Datsun. After Fran and I moved from Tampa to Birmingham and on to Atlanta, I got bored with it. Seems like every weekend in Tampa we were doing something with it, either going to the beach and later eating pizza and drinking Cokes, or else going to rod runs from Daytona Beach to Bradenton. We found that good weather meant plenty of street rod events, and Birmingham and Atlanta has cold months where no one ventures out for fear of dirtying up their ride.

When it got to the point of me driving the ’37 to the grocery store just to get it out and about, I gave it up. Oh, by the way, the ’37 DID win me some money once at Holiday Beach Raceway near Birmingham --- three-hundred and something dollars running in the track’s Pro Modified (no, not THAT Pro Modified) class one Saturday night. I traded Harry Brown the Chevy for the Datsun one February Saturday in 1994, and have never regretted it. I’d rather race anyway.

Back in my day, we didn’t call them street rods. They were hot rods, and many were raced in gas or altered classes at Lassiter Mountain or Helena in Birmingham. Guys would drop in a small-block Chevy, Ford or Chrysler and take it to the track on a Saturday night to see what it would do. These were pre-Funny Car days, 1962 or so, no bracket racing, if you
had a 283 or a 292 Chevy in a coupe, you ran C/Gas, maybe B/. A blower put you a class up, and blowers on anything in an Anglia, Prefect or Thames were VERBOTTEN by NHRA rules.

That’s when I fell in love with hot rods and straightline racing. One day I vowed to have a hot rod of my own.

That led to the ’37 and the Datsun. Now, in my eyes, Harry Brown, my Datsun’s builder, is an artist with a welder. He built the car exactly to NHRA Super Gas/Super Pro specs back in 1990, and it paid off when I crashed it on a cold February day at an eighth-mile track near Macon, Georgia, in 1994. I figured that I’d run my old front-engine dragster long enough --- 10 years --- that I knew everything about a 9-second pass. Trouble was, I’d never raced a four-link car before, and once the Datsun unloaded itself on the slippery track --- on my very first pass --- it said, “No way, bud,” and headed for the left guard rail. I hit my head hard on the roll cage. My bell was ringing for three days.

I figure that Brown saved my head. His frame work held up fine, limiting the damage to my ego, two wheels and some fiberglass pieces. The car was fixed within a month. From then on, I have always raced safe.

Cover | Table of Contents | DROstore | Classifieds | Archive | Contact
Copyright 1999-2004, Drag Racing Online and Racing Net Source