Street Rod Safe
For Your Own
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 tracks
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. Id
rather race anyway.
Back in my day, we didnt 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
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.
Thats 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 Datsuns 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
Id run my old front-engine dragster long
enough --- 10 years --- that I knew everything
about a 9-second pass. Trouble was, Id
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.