I CAN'T GET OVAH CORDOVA
By Chris Martin
Photos by Jeff Burk and Jeff Leonard
I can't. I've been to the World Series of Drag Racing
just twice in its now 49-year history and absolutely loved it. Anyone
who can remember my drooling, slobbering coverage of the 2000 event
knows that I developed a great partiality towards the race and the area.
The Cordova, Ill.-based event is the world's oldest independent drag
race, and so much of that past has blended in perfectly with the contemporary
scene. I mean perfectly. I can think of no race where this melding has
worked so well.
The featured bout at the Cordova Dragway Park World Series was a match
race between its two most legendary and beloved stars, "Big Daddy"
Don Garlits and Chris "the Golden Greek from Chicago" Karamesines.
This is not a race in cautious, reproduced front-motor dragsters, but
the two greats in modern, competitive 300-mph dragsters. I mean, what
a thrill for a drag race spectator. Lemme give you an idea what their
meeting is akin to. Imagine a modern MBL game where the two teams line-ups
sport Hank Aaron and Duke Snider. These guys were playing baseball in
1960, the very same time Garlits was winning races and "the Greek"
was becoming the first driver over 200-mph. And in terms of the World
Series both of these great pros were racing 49 years ago. Hell, when
the two pulled to the line for their first match, I swear I heard the
"X-Files" whistler, so unusual an experience was this.
But there was so much more. Modern nitro Funny Car and Alcohol cars.
Fuel Altereds. Outlaw Pro Mods. Nostalgia Top Fuel. Jets. Wheelstanders.
It was maxed-out menus like this that reeled so much of us in. Absurd
looking and downright dangerous race cars from the past to the sleek
and scary modernity of Top Fuelers and Pro Mods and all points between.