FIBERGLASS FLOPPERS SHOWCASE
57TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW
The year was 1960. Ike was in the White House. Folk was the hot lick in the music industry along with the early rock and roll riffs. American car culture was at a fever pitch. And the sport of drag racing was spreading from California to the right coast in a big way. A farm family loses their cattle herd to a fire and somehow gets involved in the development of a drag strip where crops had sprouted up for years. And the name for the track takes its cue from the name of the farm, and Island Dragway is born. Forward fifty-seven years ahead, and that same strip of asphalt continues to provide a venue for folks who want to go fast and enjoy the thrill of competitive racing. And while the track has had several other names through the years, like Country Park Raceway and Island Raceway, ownership has remained with the same family for the entire time. Today, operations are in control of a third generation of that family, and Island Dragway continues to provide a safe and fun environment for family fun.
Anniversary weekend was a bit unusual in that weather did not figure into the equation. The season has been riddled with rain and if there ever was a time for good conditions, it was this weekend. And the weather gods complied. If one had the power to order up conditions, these would be the ones at the top of the list. And what better way to celebrate another anniversary than to go old school racing, fold in a couple of nostalgia circuits and bring in enough funny cars to make the place look like a fiberglass forest. Nostalgia funny car racing has exploded in the past few years and there is a mix of nitro burners and alcohol fueled vehicles that will take you back to the halcyon days when floppers were kings of the sport. And show you how it used to be. For young and old alike, watching a dozen pair of fast race cars gets in amongst your fibers, and makes it all right with the world.
Two of the best remembered F/C entries from the early 1970s went head to head in the nitro bash. Bruce Larson and his USA1 Camaro went up against the Frantic Ford Mustang, this day piloted by Joe Morrison. For those who were around the sport in those days it was like taking a trip in the wayback machine. Best efforts on the day for the thousand foot racers netted Larson the better time slip with a 5.86 elapsed time at a speed of 180.38 mph. Morrison was right there through the first eighth mile when the Ford started to skate a bit and he was forced to lift, still posting up a stout 6.14 second, 169.53 mph pass.
Quarter mile racers rang up some impressive numbers as well. Over a dozen entries put on quite a show with crowd pleasing effect. The alcohol burners had a mix of injected and supercharged entries with the former breed racking up some solid seven second, 170 plus tickets. As for the blown cars, Bob Toth’s Time Bomb Vega ran a class best of 6.71, 196.70 and Chris Massarella’s Monza was close with his 6.87 and 196.50. As for the blown, nitro quarter mile warriors, the best squirt of the day belonged to Chuck Exton’s Wild and Crazy Mustang, when the Chevy powered rocket pounded out a stellar time of 6.66 seconds and a trap speed of 208.46 mph. In any league, these racers put on a great show, and the spectators loved every minute of it.
While the other entries were not as quick as the funny cars, the action was just as competitive. NETO ran both their Nostalgia and Comp eliminators and MANDRA had their best turnout of entries in some time. As he did the night before, Steve Consentino had his Dodge wagon in the final of Nostalgia class and was looking for a double win weekend. He ran up against Roger Wright’s Cuda in the deciding race and went red on the tree to give Wright the win at 11.21, 116.06. Comp class was the reverse for Chris Kraft. From a second place finish on Saturday night, Kraft worked his way through the ranks to race the split window Corvette of James Mullen on Sunday afternoon. A sharper launch and an 8.65, 158.28 lap moved Kraft to the winner’s circle and dropped Mullen to runner-up with his 8.16 at 164.63. MANDRA final was between the Mustang of Bruce Thomas and the 47 Mercury of Anthony Picone. Thomas turned a better reaction time into victory as he pushed Picone under the dial, winning the deal with a 10.54 and 125.34 versus the losing 11.58, 112.98 for the Merc.
There were four class eliminators for the day, three with a nostalgia banner and a modern muscle bracket for newer EFI cars. Barry Stephens, who we usually see on a Suzuki on Saturdays, drove his Chrysler to the Modern Muscle win over Ron Rando’s Hellcat. Rando fouled out his 11. 57 time and Stephens motored to the trophy via a 14.77, 95.83.
Nostalgia One bracket was picked up by Mike Nickerson when his off the dial 10.23, 113.70 effort in his altered bested the 57 Chevy of Jeff Hall, that hit a sub-dial 9.74 at 137.69. Nostalgia Two took five rounds of racing to determine a winner, and that honor belonged to Scott Klinger. Klinger’s Road Runner recorded a right on the dial 10.07 at 131.24 to get to the stripe ahead of the Nova of Barry VanScoten. The losing entry went too quick at 10.60, 122.37 on a 10.64 handicap. Nostalgia Three found Jerry Ackerman at the top of his game when he took on and took out Ron Zang. Both racers ran under their dials but Ackerman was closer with his 13.08 and 101.64 in his Maverick, while Zang hit a 13.93 and 96.03 aboard his Camaro.
So another anniversary is in the books. In just a few years it will be time for the 60th. For someone who can remember back when the 20th was a huge deal, it just seems impossible that all this time has passed. So many cars and drivers and so many fans over the decades that it seems unreal. Island Dragway management and staff extends our deepest appreciation for your loyal support and participation over all this time. We hope you have enjoyed your experiences with us, and we look forward to many years of good times and good racing to come.
THANK YOU FROM THE ENTIRE TEAM