Photo by Tim Marshall

ow many of you have read the results of a drag race and thought, "Damn, how I wish I coulda been there?" Kenny Bernstein running the first 300 at the '92 Gatornationals, Eddie Hill's first four at the 1988 IHRA Texas Nationals, the 1965 Super Stock Nationals ... you know what I mean. The above sentiment has been felt by all of us numerous times. Even serious race junkies like Bret Kepner, Tim Marshall, all the 1,000-Foot Club members, the Wallaces, you name 'em, have put the heel of their hand to their head on this subject and I am no different. This year marks my 41st as a spectator and I dare say there are hundreds of races in which I wish I could say I was there.

That's what this series deals with. Each month this year I will torture myself (if not the reader) with a piece on this subject. In a few cases, it won't be just one race, but maybe an annual event that I missed in total, like any of Bob Metzler's "Olympics of Drag Racing Shows at Great Lakes in Union Grove, Wisconsin". Anyhow, here's the first, and it involves a show that was the first of its kind, a feature event that was truly a glimpse of the future in Funny Car.


In the summer months of 1966, the sport's leading weekly, Drag News, had been running an ad featuring an all-blown, Nitro Funny Car show called the "King of Kings" Invitational at Julio Marra's Capitol Raceway. As soon as I saw it, I was licking my chops, plottin' and strategizin' on how to get there. Where could I find a ski mask, a cold .38 and a getaway car? Maybe I could donate a kidney for plane fare. I really wanted to be at Capitol Raceway on Saturday night, August 13, 1966.

Funny Cars did not develop or come to their maturation on the West Coast. We had everything else, but our East Coast brethren beat us to the punch on what obviously was the wildest class since the fuel altereds, the crazed Funny Cars.

It was kind of like being a music fan in mid-1964. You were into Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, and you did not take to the long-hair sounds of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Even though you resisted in your guts, you felt the inevitable. Things WERE going to change, like it or not. The momentum was there. It was like the emotions expressed in poet W.H. Auden's "Marginalia," ... "Thoughts of his own death, like the distant roll of a thunder at a picnic."

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