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25 Photos to Remind Of The Glory Days Of Drag Racing

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 2017-05-17 Dave Kommel
001-Roger-Garten-AAFA-OCIR 25 Photos To Remind You Of The Glory Days Of Drag Racing

Dave Kommel fell in love with drag racing in 1960 as a 10-year-old reading about Don Garlits in HOT ROD Magazine. He went to his first race in Union Grove, WI, in 1966 and started shooting trackside, mainly on the west coast, in 1972 through the '70s until forming Auto Imagery in 1979 with Richard Shute. From 1980 through 2013, he traveled the country shooting NHRA, IHRA, IDBA, ProStar, various independent drag races and a little bit of NASCAR. Now retired, Dave still shoots races that catch his fancy and has begun scanning his extensive cache of slides and negatives from the 1970s.

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Phil Lukens in his BB/Gas Supercharged Anglia at Sacramento in 1973. Lukens purchased Blair's Speed Shop from Don Blair in 1975 and is still operating it today in Pasadena CA.

Butch Leal's Pro Stock Duster at Irwindale in 1973. This was one of the first Ron Butler-built cars that revolutionized the look of Pro Stock.

Norm Wilcox Roland Leong's Hawaiian at Irwindale in 1975. Wilcox was one of over 20 different drivers who shoed the various "Hawaiian" entries over the years.

Sonny Bryant's Pro Stock Camaro at OCIR in 1975. Bryant raced in Pro Stock from the early '70s through the early '80s and today is one of the main suppliers of billet crankshafts for NHRA and NASCAR teams.

Fred Teixeira's C/Altered Corvette at Sacramento in 1975. Teixeira ran a series of Comp and Modified entries that always ran hard and looked as good as they ran.

Henry Harrison at the wheel of John Aleman's "Sheepherder" 427 SOHC Ford powered AA/Fuel Altered at the 1976 Fuel Altered Nationals in Tucson. The Amos Satterleetuned altered was very competitive, but "cammers" were notoriously hard to work on and it was eventually replaced by a late-model Chrysler hemi.

Bill Frontuto in the "Black Magic" AA/Fuel Altered at Tucson Dragway in 1976. Frontuto was paralyzed in a crash in this car in 1977, but worked as a fabricator and machinist until his death in 2014.

"Big Daddy" Don Garlits at the 1976 Bakersfield March Meet. This car was Swamp Rat #23 and retired in the summer of 1977.

Ralph Van Paepeghem in his Super Stock Chevy II at the 1976 Winternationals. Van Paepeghem is still racing today in Comp Eliminator with an A/Econo Altered roadster.

Paul Vanderley in his E/Modified Production '61 Corvette at the 1976 NHRA Winston Finals at Ontario Motor Speedway. Based in Biloxi MS, Vanderley was a well respected Modified competitor, but also competed in Top Fuel and dirt circle track racing.

"Dandy Dick" Landy's Pro Stock Dodge at OCIR in 1977. Landy raced from the early '60s through 1980 and was a legend in the Mopar world.

"Jungle Jim" Liberman at the 1977 Winternationals. Arguably, the most popular Funny Car driver of his time, he died in a highway accident later in 1977, just short of his 32nd birthday.

Roy Hill in his Plymouth Arrow Pro Stock at the 1977 Winternationals. Today, Hill is racing a Cobra Jet Mustang that is quicker and faster than his Pro Stock Arrow was in 1977.

Don "The Snake" Prudhomme at the 1977 Winternationals. Prudhomme had the dominant Funny Car of the mid-70s winning four consecutive NHRA Winston championships from 1975 through 1978.

Tom McEwen at Irwindale in 1977. The "Mongoose" half of the "Snake and Mongoose" duo, McEwen concentrated more on match races, but still won his share of NHRA national events in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.

Margaret Glembocki's Super Stock Camaro at Sacramento in 1977. Glembocki and her husband, Bob, ran a series of "Color Me Silver" entries, sometimes as a two car team with Bob driving the second car.

Jimmy Scott's small-block-Chevy powered Pro Comp dragster at the 1977 NHRA Winston Finals at Ontario Motor Speedway. Scott is still active today crewing on various Top Alcohol Dragsters and campaigning his own front engine blown small block Chevy dragster in Nostalgia Eliminator 1, a 7.60 index class.

Danny Davis' 66 Chevy II Super Stock at the 1978 Winternationals. Davis is the son of header guru, Jack Davis, and this car was one of the nicest Super Stock entries of that era.

Tripp Shumake in Johnny Loper's "Little Hoss" Funny Car at the 1979 Winternationals. Loper, a Phoenix speed shop owner raced a series of Top Fuel and Funny Car entries into the mid-'80s with a variety of drivers.

Al Segrini in Phil Castronovo's Funny Car at Beeline Dragway outside of Phoenix in 1979. Over the course of a 30-year career, Segrini drove for a very wide array of Funny Car owners and also did a stint in Billy Lynch's Top Fuel dragster.

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