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Super Chevy Drag Racing Greats, Part 1

Roll up for a magical history tour of vintage Chevy strip pounders

Dec 5, 2011
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Although I appreciate all makes of 1950s through 1970s American-built muscle cars, there's no denying that I came from a "Genuine Chevrolet family." If memory serves me correctly, I can trace our Bow Tie beginnings as far back as the 1946 Chevrolet Master Coupe my mother and father purchased when they were first married, right up to their last new car, ah, better make that "truck," an 1985 Suburban with a big-block.

Of course, having Selman Chevrolet's "OK Used Cars" (Orange, California) right around the corner certainly didn't hurt, nor did the fact that a place called "Hart Automotive" (founded by the late NHRA Competition Director Jack Hart,) was located directly across the street from Selman's Chapman Avenue used car lot, and it was always teeming with Chevrolet-powered hot rods.

My first trip to Lions Associated Drag Strip (1962) was filled with memories of Tri-Five Chevrolets, Corvette fuelies, and SS 409 bubbletops. However, by the mid-'60s, these cars began to give way to L79 Novas, L37/L34/L78-powered Chevelles, and L35/L78 Camaros, which all made pretty damned good race cars. Match race stockers were the up-and-coming thing in those days, and in spite of the fact that Chevrolet was officially out of racing, they certainly provided the raw material. Names like "Dyno Don" Nicholson, Hayden Proffitt, Tom Sturm, Dick Harrell, Randy Walls, Doug Thorley, "Jungle Jim" Liberman, Bill Thomas, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, Dave Strickler, Pete Seaton, Malcolm Durham, and countless others all helped make these cars immortal.

In closing part 1, all I can say is that any drag racing photographer who has ever groveled for, and successfully obtained, a national event starting line photo credential has his or her own file of drag racing photo greats stashed away. These are just a few of mine. And for extra good measure, Super Chevy has a few images for upcoming issues captured on film (remember when there was film?) by my fellow partners-in-crime "Diamond Jim" Kelly, Dan Wadley, and GK Callaway, listed in no particular order. After all, you can't be everywhere. Enjoy!


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