DRO file photos
TWILIGHT ZONE INTERNATIONAL
the recent past, I have wrapped this column
around a theme about a particular race that
I missed, but would have loved to have seen.
This issue will concern itself more with a track
that I wish I could’ve been a guest during
its heyday … the one and only U.S. 30
Dragaway in Merrillville, Ind., just a hop,
skip and a knock out of Gary.
This graphic (right) is typical
of why I would’ve been an attendee at
this plant. Just check out the copy that described
what you might surmise an historic race.
great hook up off the line shot Roger out
cleanly in the lead and on his way to a world
record run as he put down the “Skootin’ ‘Cuda “ with
the highest mph ever turned by a Funny Car
at 218.116 and a (track) record setting elapsed
time of 7.37 seconds!!! What can you say
when Lenny Hughes goes to 7.46, 211.877 and
has to taste defeat. Oh Wowwwww!!!"
“Oh wow” is right, and in more
ways than one.
The racers? Roger Lindamood’s “Color
Me Gone” Dodge Charger versus Leonard
Hughes in his and Paul Candies’ Barracuda.
The event? A featured best of three Funny Car
match race at U.S. 30 Dragway near Gary, Ind.
The date? June 21, 1969. The journalism? Wowwwww!!!
The times? As MasterCard might put it . . .
priceless and, incidentally, in all likelihood
. . . false.
There was no greater purveyor of baloney times
in the history of the sport than the fun-loving
crew at U.S. 30 Dragway, and this one was typical
and, for some reason, among the first instances
of such goings on. However, it should
be understood from the get-go that the track
was famous for more than ramping up the Rolexes.
The track was easily the country’s biggest
promoter of summer pro drag racing match races
in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with talent
ranging from Don Garlits and Don Prudhomme to
Denny Petersavage in the “Time Machine”
Vega and Donnie Durzeg’s “Ghetto Rat”
Dodge Charger. In fact, I’m pretty (as opposed
to absolutely) sure that the Chicagoland radio
ads for the track were the first ones to use the
“Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!” meth rant
to entice the fans. Moreover, in the years 1982
through (I think) 1984, the track was the site
of the AHRA Chi-Town Nationals, and wouldn’t
you know it, in the spirit of the Lindamood/Hughes
tango, was carried out in at least two of those
races. At the 1982 event, Don Garlits received
a pair of 260-mph time slips, a full year and
a half before Joe Amato’s 260.11 at the
1984 NHRA Gatornationals.
Don Prudhomme’s Pepsi Challenger Firebird
is seen at the 1983 AHRA Chi-Town Nationals
at U.S. 30. Time-wise that’s a little
modern for the period we’re talking about,
but that race still featured happy clocks.