GARLITS POPS "The GREEK" IN TWO; PATON, ADLER HOMER AT SERIES
By Chris Martin
Photos by Jeff Burk and Jeff Leonard
|Don Garlits showed no rust despite having
raced only three times this year. He managed to whip Chris "The
Greek" Karamesines in two straight at the Cordova World Series of
Drag Racing. (Jeff Burk photo)
Plenty of maps don't have Cordova, Illinois, on them.
The 166-year-old town on the east bank of the Mississippi River is one
of a number of little country bergs in an area known to locals as "the
bluffs." The bluffs are where the land rises above the rolling glassy
river, and are dotted with classic wood cabins, early 20th century two-story,
screen door palaces, and nouveau riche, manicured brick modernities
running along the east side of the two-lane rural Route 84. They face
the river and Bettendorf, Iowa, which beams back with riverboat casinos
and sun-bleached waterfront businesses looking like a VerMeer seascape.
However, with just 250 people living in old Cordova, it is no more than
a speck in a Hammond atlas, although it's definitely on all drag racing
If you go past porch-swing Cordova, the land flattens
into trees and farms and in just a mile or two you are greeted by Cordova
Dragway Park. It has an older-styled facade and ambiance, staging lanes
along the highway, a neat two-story timing tower, colorful banners bouncing
in the breeze, and twelve- to twenty-level bleachers stringing both
sides of the track. With all the lawn and stands of trees around it,
Cordova has the look of a carnival at race time.
|Some 10,000 fans filled the Cordova countryside
for the World Series of Drag Racing. (Jeff Burk photo)
For drag racing, the track's venerable World Series of
Drag Racing event, this year 49 years old (the first three events were
held in Lawrenceville, Ill.), is the sport's oldest independent drag
race. Yesterday, and by 'yesterday' I mean pre-1959 Bakersfield, the
World Series just might've been the biggest race in the country, certainly
that applies to anything east of the Mississippi. Today, it's a carnival,
but not your average St. Aloysius Pancake Breakfast feed. This is the
kind of carnival that hooked a lot of us on drag racing, especially
the over 40s before the corporate blanket gently settled atop us all.
What did this race have to offer in 2002 just a week before
NHRA's U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis? On Friday evening of the three-day
event the pro end, always reserved for the final three hours of each
day, got started and later ended by two pairs that symbolized the race.