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Steve Reasbeck on Drag Racing 1962 to 1965 Mopars

Steve Reasbeck on Drag Racing 1962 to 1965 Mopars

September 2009:

Well folks, another summer is winding down, at least here in the east. That means another race season is winding down with it, and everyone in these parts is preparing to spend another fall watching Steeler football and then on into Penguin hockey. There are only a couple of events coming up, at least for us. The nights are getting pretty cool, dropping down into the forties here in Western Pennsylvania, and the leaves are beginning to change colors.

The Chrysler Classic series has their season’s windup scheduled at Norwalk, Ohio, and the 422 Motorsports guys have their finale set for Maple Grove a bit later on. Pittsburgh Raceway Park has a major “end of the year bash” setup for the beginning of October, and then that will probably be about it for us in 2009. I’ll provide some details on those events next time.

1965 Dodge Don Martek Norwalk Chrysler Classic Drag Race
1965 Dodge of Don Martek at Norwalk

We have been invited to take the cars to a fund raising car show in the end of the year, the “last blast of summer,” an event designed to raise fund for several worthy charities. Kyle’s 1964 Dodge, and Ronnie’s Hemi 1966 Dodge are both very show worthy, and my old 1965 can get by. Mine, especially, is kind of rough around the edges when you get close to it . . . it has been wearing the same paint for roughly 33 years. It still looks very good from the grandstands, but you can see where the hood has been off and on in a big hurry over the years. I have thought about repainting it several times, but every time I do someone comes to me at one of the nostalgia races and tells me to leave it alone; the scars show some of the history (after all, those chips may be a mark from every major drag strip on the east coast and Midwest, some of them no longer in existence). However, I am always kind of astounded by the response these cars get. Middle aged and elderly folks tell us all the time about the memories the cars awaken, and younger folks are kind of amazed that brutes, and that is the word for them, brutes, were available from your local Plymouth and Dodge dealers for less of a price of a decent used car today.

Another thing we have done — and this should have been done a long time ago — is the purchase of insurance on the cars. You know, you kind of take them for granted, and for my sons and myself they are not unique because we’ve always had them. The coverage does not cover the cars from the water box to return road, but they are covered everywhere else. It is my opinion that the equipment is most at risk while being transported, anyway.

It is not too early to be planning for 2010, either. There are several changes in the works for my Hemi: changes that probably should have been done several years ago. I would like to update some of the old school suspension tricks that have been on it for decades, and maybe even pick up a couple of tenths. So, we have several ideas in the works that should quicken it up. I think we’ve got enough motor, but there are several updates that can be done. I’ll keep you posted.

What I’ve tried to do in this monthly blog is to encourage the readers of this site to display their cars, and, yes, to even race them. One of the things that astound me when reading some of the Internet boards is the way some of the “experts” scare the blue blazes out of those who might like to give this a try. These cars are tough, and most of the equipment that Chrysler produced in the mid sixties was more than capable of being run hard, which can be done without abusing equipment. I raced with stock, mid sixties Chrysler parts in Hemis and 440’s for a lot of years, and literally wore the motors out rather than breaking them. To be frank, I still feel that brand new, the original Chrysler stuff was better than most of what is out there, today. The problem with most of the original stuff out there is that it has been abused for forty years. If the stuff checks out, when magged out by a competent machinist, and one is careful and pays attention while assembling it, I would run the old stuff in a heartbeat. It comes down to being careful, paying attention in assembly, and taking care of all the little details.

I could not close this piece without a shout out to Dan Dvorak, who has some parts for sale posted on this site. “No Dyno Dan,” as he has been called, has been a master at NHRA/IHRA stock eliminator racing, and his reputation as a master of Chrysler engines is second to none. Although I had been aware of his health issues, to see it has progressed to the point where he has to liquidate a lot of what he has worked for is very sad, indeed. Dan, if you read this, know that we are all praying for and wishing you all the best.

Well, that’s it for this time, folks. God Bless.

I will close with a few more pictures from the Norwalk, Ohio event.

Plymouth Helmick Brothers Chrysler Classic Drag Race
1965 Plymouth Hemi car
1965 Dodge Chrysler Classic Drag Race
Bob Marshall’s Dodge Material
1964 Plymouth Timmer Racing Chrysler Classic Drag Race
1964 Plymouth, Timmer Racing
1964 Plymouth Maxine Chrysler Classic Drag Race
1964 Plymouth, Maxine

Contact: Reasbeck Racing
Johnstown, Pa.


September 20, 2009

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