Legendary Drag Racing Machines Part of Special Display At Charlotte Motor Speedway's April 3-6 Food Lion AutoFair
From Tommy Ivo's legendary "Barnstormer" dragster to Doug Herbert's current 7,000-horsepower NHRA Top Fuel machine, the April 3-6 Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway will feature a special display chronicling the history of drag racing.
A dozen vehicles will illustrate how the straight-line sport has progressed from the early 1960s to the modern machines that will christen The Dragway @ Charlotte Motor Speedway Sept. 11-14 during the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals.
In 1962, Ivo teamed with Rod Reppmuller to build the chassis for his first Top Fuel car. It featured a 124-inch wheelbase and was immediately distinguishable from similar models due to front radius rods that stretched nearly five feet. Ivo and Reppmuller hurriedly finished the front-engine dragster and debuted it during a special event that was part of the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle.
The car was the first Top Fuel dragster to cover the quarter-mile in seven seconds when Ivo stopped the timer at 7.99 seconds on Oct. 24, 1962, in San Gabriel, Calif. It was also one of the first dragsters to top 190 mph.
Crisscrossing the country, Ivo drove the car in numerous match races and competition events, earning the sleek machine the nickname "Barnstormer." The dragster also became a movie star in the 1964 cult favorite "Bikini Beach," which featured Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello and included an appearance by Ivo. Ivo continued to win races in the car until it was retired in 1965.
By comparison, the Top Fuel machine Herbert will drive in the Sept. 11-14 NHRA Carolinas Nationals has a 300-inch wheelbase, has the engine located behind the driver and is capable of covering the quarter-mile in 4.5 seconds at over 330 mph. The chassis is fabricated from 300 feet of chromoly tubing .
Unlike its predecessor, today's NHRA Top Fuel dragster features a large carbon-fiber wing which produces nearly 6,500 pounds of downforce on the rear tires.
The drag racing display in the Food Lion AutoFair's 3M Car Care Garage will also include:
. Ron Hope's legendary Fuel-Altered entry known as the "Rat Trap;"
. The Croshier, Baltes & Lavato Top Fuel dragster driven in 1964 by Jerry Baltes;
. A pair of S&S Racing gassers driven by Dale Hales and Gene Altizer;
. The Howard Cams "Rattler" piloted by Larry Dixon Sr. from 1968 to 1972;
. The Stafford, Gaide & Ratican "Sour Sisters" dragster driven by Kenny Stafford.
In addition to the cars, Hope and Baltes will be on hand during the four-day automotive extravaganza to share their experiences of driving the powerful machines during the sport's formative years.
Longtime NHRA officials Eileen Daniels and Steve Gibbs were instrumental in arranging the drag racing display with three of the cars coming from the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif.,
The spring Food Lion AutoFair annually attracts more than 160,000 visitors. It features more than 50 car club displays; more than 10,000 vendor spaces that offer a plethora of automotive parts and memorabilia; and a collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
Food Lion AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults while children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5.
For information, contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205.