If there's any one month that can be described as anti-climactic in drag racing, it has to be September. This is the 30-day stretch that follows NHRA's U.S. Nationals, and traditionally it's brought a lot of "I-forgot-all-aboutcha's its way. It shouldn't have because racing history has shown a lot of memorable activity in that month.
Years ago, there were a series of races that I really looked forward to in September. In the late 1960s and 1970s, AHRA and IHRA held two national events in that month, and New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire hosted one of the country's most eagerly awaited independent shows, the New England Funny Car Nationals. I was never fortunate enough to attend any of these races, but the written descriptions and art in National DRAGSTER and Drag News made me wish that I had.
The New England show was first-rate, featuring 32 qualified cars for round one. Off the top of my head, I think the event began in 1966 and ceased being a nitro show of any importance by the mid-1980s. In its day, this was the northeast coast's biggest Funny Car show, and any racer of any import from the area took part. Winners ranged over the years from Bruce Larson's "USA-1" and "Jungle Jim" Liberman's Chevy to Bill Leavitt's "Quickie Too" Mustang and Kosty Ivanof's "Boston Shaker" Monza. My favorite year for the event was 1971 when it featured the highly unusual pairing of Liberman's Camaro and the blown Chevy-powered Volkswagen "Bug" of Warren Gunter in the final. Gunter's Mike Kase-built VW ran as quick as a 6.99 while going through four rounds to meet Liberman to whom he lost in a wild and squirrelly finish.
From 1965 through 1969, AHRA ran everything from its AHRA World Championships, its Grand American Points Finale, its All-American and U.S. Open races in September. When IHRA showed on the scene in 1971, it soon followed with its All- American, Fall Nationals, and U.S. Open in that month.
Three AHRA races stand out for me in that month. The 1968 World Championships
event at Green Valley Race City in Texas was one of them. This was where
Buddy Cortines wheeled the Carroll Bros. mount past the famed Beebe
& Mulligan "Fighting Irish" dragster for the title. In 1969 at the All-American,
this writer's drag racing hero, Chris Karamesines, lost one of the worst
holeshot decisions in Top Fuel history when Jim "Superman" Nicoll erased
"the Greek's" 6.99 with a 7.13. At the end of the month, one of the
great unknowns held sway in Top Fuel when Jim Hundley guided the Boggs
& Hundley dragster to a low e.t. 6.55 to beat Leroy Goldstein in the
Ramchargers dragster for the money. The relatively unknown West Virginia
team's elapsed time was the fifth best of the year if you leave aside
famed forgeries at tracks like U.S. 30 in Gary, Ind.