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Steve Reasbeck on Drag Racing 1962 to 1965 Mopars

Steve Reasbeck on Drag Racing 1962 to 1965 Mopars

June 2009: Holdin’ on to Yesterday was the name of a popular song some years back. I am not sure I remember who the recording artist was, as my taste in music goes back some years before that, but it seems to me that the song today is applicable to all of us.

[Editor’s note: the 1975 hit Holdin’ on to Yesterday by Ambrosia.]

1964 Plymouth versus 1965 Plymouth drag race

Since my last piece, a lot has happened. To many, it seems like the world has turned upside down. Guys and gals my age have lost long term jobs. Times are tough. And, even iconic American symbols are disappearing. Long time institutions, institutions we grew up with, have disappeared. Our beloved Chrysler has filed for bankruptcy, and, as I write this GM is in the process of doing so. “The times,” as Bob Dylan so eloquently wrote, “they are a changing.”

Whether it is for the good or for the bad depends on your perspective. One thing is for sure…there is a paradigm shift taking place, in American business, and as a result, in American culture.

The American automobile has always been a symbol of American culture. The big cars, the chrome, the big motors, all, over the years served as microcosms of how we lived. Racing, drag racing especially, reflected the competitive juices that flowed through this country, and the results of these competitive juices created a vibrant, creative country that has had an incredible impact on this world we live in. At the risk of sounding non politically correct, I will state the impact our nation has had has been, far and away positive in spite of our shortcomings. We have had a unique, free culture that has never been duplicated in man’s history, and we have all been better off for it.

There is a good chance that some of that will change. The passing of these American icons, as we have known them, is going to mark some big changes. With the government involvement, now in Chrysler and GM, modern cars are going to be dictated by political realities. The new offerings will know doubt be greener and smaller, and how they will be received is yet to be known (I have my own opinion, but I will refrain from stating it in this venue). Indeed, they will be different. They will reflect the change in American culture.

Now, what, are you thinking, does this have to do with 1962-1965 Mopars? Well, I’m gonna tell you.

Our Mopars are, too a reflection of American culture. The culture that many of us grew up in. Hamburger joints.The Beach Boys.Cruising the “strip” in your local town, and, maybe even facing off with a 396 Chevelle at the stoplight in front the Sunoco station, with your favorite squeeze sitting close to you. Gas at 38 cents a gallon, a bit more for Sunoco 260, a pump gas available that today rivals available racing gasoline.

I am not a “car show” guy, but on occasion, if I am not doing anything, I’ll load up my old 1965 Hemi car and head to some kind of charity event…perhaps for a Church, school, or someone suffering an illness, or any of a myriad of worthwhile efforts. My old ’65, which I’ve owned for forty years, is not a showpiece. It looks good from the stands, but is wearing the same paint and lettering that was applied in 1976. But, you can see where we’ve had the hood off and on in a hurry sometimes, where the paint and lettering is faded, and various scratches and dings. There are decals from long defunct drag strips, contestant decals of events in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The car has had literally thousands of passes on it. The motor is as old school as the caris: a cross ram Hemi with two carbs, automatic transmission, and Super Stock leaf springs...right out of a 1969 Super Stock and Drag Illustrated magazine.

The amazing thing is this: I am totally amazed when, at some of these events, folks walk up and actually thank us for bringing the car out. The Nostalgia Super Stock races we’ve been at this year have been received the same way. The crowds have never been bigger or more enthusiastic. It’s incredible. It reminds them of a simpler time, of time before all of the problems that we seem to be facing as a nation, today. It reminds them of an American culture that seems to be vanishing before their eyes. People are spending their hard earned to come out and experience the past. It absolutely blows me away.

I guess the point of this month’s blog posting is this: show your piece off. Not for your own ego, but, believe it or not, you are doing a service. You see these advertisements in some of the monthly magazines: “take a kid to a car show”. Well, to many, that is more than a slogan. You can make someone feel a bit better for an afternoon. Answer some questions, allow folks to use your old MoPar to revisit their past; revisit a simpler time, a time before the six o’clock news told you each day how bad you have it. More people than you realize will appreciate it. Most will never tell you...but, it will literally make some folks’ day. And, that’s a good thing.

We have some cool, large events coming up shortly.The Curt George Memorial/Chrysler Classic at Pittsburgh Raceway Park June 19-21; The York US30 Reunion/Nostalgia Nationals at Beaver Springs Dragway July 11-12; and the Friday Flashback/422 Motorsport All Star event also at Beaver Springs August 11-12. They are all large events, and according to the promoters the response is more enthusiastic than it ever has been before, and that takes some doing. The Beaver Springs event draws cars from Texas, the Carolinas, and spectators from as far away as the United Kingdom.

I guess they, too, are “holdin’ on to yesterday”.

Contact: Reasbeck Racing
Johnstown, Pa.

June 7, 2009

View Steve’s Other Columns: April 2009; May 2009 / Go back to the 1962 to 1965 Mopar Web Site Home Page.