Each July Island Dragway hosts the Nostalgia Nationals, one of several such “Old Timer” days throughout the season. These programs give us an opportunity to return to the way drag racing used to be, at least to a certain extent, although modern safety and timing equipment makes for a smoother and better show.
One of the headliner acts of the nostalgia race is the competition provide by the group from NETO, the Northeast Timing Organization. Under the leadership of its new president, Brian English, this group of folks keep the memory of the earlier days of the sport alive as well as remembering the late Tony Feil, who shepherded the organization for many years prior to his passing. This year’s trophies were specially made to honor Tony and his efforts to develop the group into the fine club it is today.
NETO Competition bracket features a mix of racer cars that run on a.4 Pro Tree and handicap based on .1 second increments. Having worked their way through the early rounds, the two left standing were Michael Grafos of Brick and his Chevy along with Brian English out of Norwalk in his Camaro. Both cars were dialed in at identical mid-8 second handicaps and Grafos nailed a half a tenth on the tree and powered is way to the win light at 8.64 and 155.81. English ran close but came up short with a slip of 8.67 at 157.50.
NETO Nostalgia uses a sportsman tree with three amber lights at .5 second intervals and any handicap you desire. By the time the finals rolled around, Steve Consentino and his 62 Dodge wagon was faced off with the 73 Ford of Frank Martinez for the award. Consentino, who has had great success here over the past several years, kept the good times rolling as he made up for his slower reaction time by putting the big Mopar through the traps at 10.73 seconds with a speed of 121.74 mph to take the race. Martinez was just a little off his dial as the Ford recorded a 10.85 and 124.61 on the losing side of the sheet.
There was also plenty of action in the three regular nostalgia classes where Paul Crispyn took the honors in Nost 1, the quickest bracket. Crispyn hustled his 67 Dart to victory on a ticket that was right on his dial, 10.04 at 134.93. Al Sluberio was the last victim to fall as his 66 Chevy was too late to the party on a 9.64 and 141.86.
Nost 2 was the largest class of the day and came down to a pairing of two well known competitors in the form of the Camaro of Ed Sebring and the 47 Merc of Anthony Picone. With over a full second head start, Picone gained only a thousandth on the start and found out it wasn’t enough as Sebring chased him down before the 1320 foot stripe. Sebring brought home victory on a 10.36, 125.33 card while Picone gave a good accounting via his losing 11.73 at 112.25.
The slowest bracket, Nost 3, featured a three-peat performance for Jerry Ackerman and his Ford Maverick. Ackerman, who won this class at the 2017 event and was runner-up in 2018, made his third straight final round appearance with a mission to up his record to 2-1. While Acklerman’s RTs had been a sporadic during the event, he made a representative launch in the final that was not an issue when his opponent, George Renz caught a red light to foul away hji9s 13.73, 90.04 slip. Ackerman better his mark with a winning 13.67 at 99/39/
So another Nostalgia Nationals is in the book and a few more such events are on the schedule for the remainder of the season. Look for the Ol Daze Drags in September and the Fall Nostalgia race in October. Both will give you a god idea of what racing was like decades ago when most folks ran for trophies and just had a blast at the track for the pure fun of it. We hope you can join us.