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Steve Reasbeck on Drag Racing 1962 to 1965 Mopars

Steve Reasbeck on Drag Racing 1962 to 1965 Mopars

August 2009:Okay, Okay, I’m late again. Sorry, but I sort of planned this one. The second and final leg of the Beaver Springs’ major Nostalgia events was this past weekend [August 14, 2009], and I wanted to get the story in this month’s blog. I hope you will find it is worth the wait. It may be a bit longer than others, so please bear with me. I hope you find it a good read.

1965 Dodge Coronet Drag Race

Steve’s 1965 Dodge Coronet at the starting line

I would like to take a moment to provide some background (it all relates to 1962-1965 Mopars), and set the scene for you a bit. I have owned my 1965 Dodge Coronet since March of 1969, and raced it for many, many, years. In the late eighties I developed some health issues, and that combined with the commitments of raising a family made the car inactive with the exception of some very rare instances. My eldest son, Kyle, had been bugging me for years to run it, but it never seemed to work out.

In 2003, Kyle was involved in a very serious work accident. While recovering in the hospital, I told him that it was time to dig the old Hemi out, and give him a shot. So, the next summer, when the recovery was far enough along, we did just that. After getting used to the car, he wound up doing a very, very good job.

He was doing such a good job that he decided he wanted to do some things to the car. This discussion resulted in my decision not to totally abdicate the driver seat, and I didn’t want the car changed substantially. So, he got so mad at me he went out and purchased his own 9 second Plymouth Duster. He still drove mine on occasion, and he did a good job each time. Although he loves his Duster, he was weened on B bodies, and when the opportunity to purchase a 1964 Dodge Polara 500, he jumped at it.

The car is gorgeous, originally from Arizona. Our dear friend Bob George prepped a 500 inch wedge engine, with Indy heads and a single Dominator, installed a cage, ladder bars, and four wheel Wilwood discs. It ran a best of 10.28 with that combo, in the fall of the year. However, Kyle loves Nostalgia Super Stock racing, and the motor has been changed to an Indy cross ram, complete with two Edelbrock Thunder series carburetors, to make it NSS legal. It slowed it down a bit, to 10.50’s, but the car is consistent as a clock, and starts and drives like your new Chrysler 300. A fabulous setup.

Which brings us to this weekend, the Friday Flashback event at the Beaver Springs Dragway in Beaver Springs, PA a major NSS race on the east coast, followed by the 422 Motorsports All Star NSS event the following day. Both use 422 Motorsports rules, which, in my opinion are fabulous, and also very challenging. They use a four tenths Christmas tree, as opposed to the normal five tenths, which is a very quick light. But, more importantly, the dial has to end in a zero. For example, if you run a 11.05, your dial has to be an 11.10, or an 11.00. And, the dial can’t be changed once the event starts. So, you’ve got to make the call, do I risk dialing slow and running under, or count on the weather getting better and quickening up? It’s tougher than you might think.

It was hot, hot, and hotter, this past weekend. Friday’s temperature was 90+ degrees, and 80% humidity, and Saturday was approaching 100, but the humidity was a bit lower. Both wreaked havoc on the cars performance. But, it didn’t damper the enthusiasm of the competitors and the many spectators. A fabulous evening.

NSS Drag Race fans

Packed House of NSS Racing Fans

Anyway, Friday, I unloaded the Hemi and went an 11.12 off of the trailer. I followed it up with an 11.17, considerably slower than what the car usually runs. I dialed an 11.10, and in the first round ran smack on to win the race against Bob Roles’ Slammin’ Savoy 1964 Plymouth Hemi, dialed at 9.80. It was a great race, I ran a smack on 11.10, he ran a 9.79 on a 9.80 dial, a close race and a lot of fun.

1964 Plymouth NSS

Bob Roles’ 1964 Plymouth NSS

The next round I met my demise against Denny Kohr and his 1968 Super Bee, another tough racer.

1965 Dodge drag race

Big Steve Reasbeck at Flashback Friday

Meanwhile, Kyle was having a tough time. He had wound up with some starter issues, as the starter had quit working in his 1964. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, as well as comments about certain relatives of the starter’s manufacturer, it was decided to make the change, providing we could locate one.

Enter the group I had just beaten the first round. The Roles’ Amusement 1964 Hemi team just happened to have a new starter in their trailer, and gave it to Kyle. Changing the starter was not a day at the beach, with the one piece headers on his Polara, but by midnight the task was done. I went back to the motel, and Kyle and some pals decided it was Miller Time and retired to the campfire.

Plymouth vs. Ford Drag Race

Friday Flashback Final Baumer vs. Fred Henderson

On a side note, we were able to weigh these cars: anyone who believes they are lightweights is kidding themselves. Mine, with an iron Hemi, weighed 3660 pounds without me, and tipped the scales at 3905 pounds at the starting line. It was even a bit more than I expected.

1964 Hemi Plymouth

Collette’s 1964 Hemi Plymouth

So, three of us were ready for the big 422 All Stars event on Saturday. We had my car, Kyle’s wedge car, and our dear friend Ron McClelland’s Bud’s Auto Sales Hemi 1966 Dodge Coronet, running 9.70’s. There were others: Ron’s son Aaron in a small block Duster, Barry and Brian Donnelly and Dave White in various MoPars, all running Nostalgia Jr. Stock.

1966 Dodge Drag Race Burnout

Ronnie McClelland’s Bud’s Auto Sales Dodge

Tom Taylor’s Maxie 1962 Plymouth

Max Wedge 1962 Plymouth

Qualifying went well, I was able to qualify second with a .003 reaction time (the 422 program uses reaction time to determine qualifying order, and do keep a ladder. Kyle ran well, going 10.60’s, and at the beginning the program the Race Director visited our pit and informed us we had drawn each other the first round.

1964 Mercury Comet

Dyno Don
1964 Mercury Comet

1960 Pontiac NSS

1960 Pontiac NSS

You’ve got to be kiddin’ me! I’ve got my son? First round! Well, that’s OK. I guess I’ll have to give the kid his come-uppins’. He can’t beat his dad.

Well, he did. Kyle cut a great light, an .013, and I couldn’t repeat my performance in qualifying. I ran an 11.25 on an 11.20 dial, but he caught me and drove past me in the lights. Oh well. So much for deferring to the old man. Truth be told, I didn’t mind at all. Anyone who has kids will understand.

Ronnie fell the third round with the 1966, but Kyle kept going, all the way to the final. Here the kid was driving his first major event in his own car, wading through the field, taking out some heavy hitters, including Ciro Mangione’s gorgeous black 427 Lightweight Ford Galaxie in the semis. I remained in the background, though, bursting with pride and allowing Kyle and Ronnie to set the car up for the final.

The Cinderella story fell a bit short as Kyle ran under in the final against John Warehime’s big block Chevelle, the 422 points leader that apparently sealed the title with his win. He did a good job, and needs to be congratulated.

1964 Dodge vs. Chevy drag race

Kyle vs. Chevelle at 422 NSS Finale

As a dad, it was a tremendously memorable event. There is not much more satisfying to see your son go on and be successful in the endeavor that you passed on to him. To see him interact with the folks as well, and be the type of young man he is, is even more gratifying. When he beat me in the first round, it was sort of passing torch on to the next generation, and I was blessed to be able to see it, and even participate. I have a younger son, Kevin, who is on his way up, as well, and I look forward to seeing and participating in his success.

I have been so blessed, and I know it, and grateful. At this event, my daughter, Heather, was there, along with her fiance’, and close friends whose wedding I was in thirty five years ago. I am so grateful Butch and Bonnie made the trip, it meant a lot to me. All of these years, all the life’s experiences, and everyone is together still racing and watching our old B bodied MoPars race down the drag strip. I pray every night in thanks, that after setbacks, financial problems that young families face, and even being close to the end a couple of times, more recently with a large brain tumor, that after all of that I am still around to see this, and to experience it. Life is good. I pray all of you can have similar experiences.

Plymouth vs. Chevy NSS Drag Race

Kenny Montgomery vs. Strickler’s Old Reliable

I would ask you young folks out there, especially parents, to enjoy each day, savor the good experiences and learn from the bad. Time will go past so quickly, and you won’t be able to account for it. It may seem you are too busy to do it, and there is too much going on. But, force yourself. Keep your faith strong, for without it you have nothing, and keep trudging forward. It will be worth it.

Desert Rose 1963 Plymouth Drag Racer

Desert Rose 1963 Plymouth

Until next time, folks. God Bless.

Contact: Reasbeck Racing
Johnstown, Pa.

August 21, 2009

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