Page 71 - Nitro Madness Magazine Fall 2017
P. 71

late afternoon sun brought with it   International Drag Racing Hall of    per car entry fee, it appeared that
            the SoCal weather pattern known      Fame.                                the track was “walking in high
            as the Inversion Layer. This                                              cotton”! Unfortunately, from that
            cool, damp, foggy “air” created        Twelve weeks to the day after      night forward the gate count slowly
            a mystical illusion with the track   Disneyland opened its doors, the     spiraled downward for almost three
            lighting, tire smoke and the overall   first pair of competitors made     years until Thompson introduced
            essence of the racing action that set   their way down Lions Drag Strip’s   “Drag Racing under the lights” in
            Lions apart from any other Drag      version of Main street! Just like    July of 1957!
            Strip in the world. In the day, it was   the Magic Kingdom, the Lions
            the fastest track known to man!      “opening day” attendance level         Until then the racing action
            The “air” was also saturated with    far exceeded the expectation         took place on Sundays (hence the
            the unmistakable bouquet of ocean    by more than double; food and        Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! ballad).
            mist, the fragrance of oil refinery,   water supplies rapidly depleted,   His inception of Saturday night/
            the pungent aroma of the local       anxious visitors climbed fences and   date night (fuel) racing saved
            landfill and the nostril burning     technical difficulties tormented     the track from certain death.
            prickle of nitromethane!             management!                          Additionally, Mickey’s Wednesday
                                                                                      night “Grudge Racing” program
              Throughout its 17 years, 1 month     Though Mickey Thompson’s           was a huge success. As track
            and 11 days of existence there were   anticipation of 50 entries, they    manager, Thompson also replaced
            three track managers - Mickey        actuality imposed nearly 400 cars;   “flag starts” with a “Christmas
            Thompson (1955-1965), CJ “Pappy”     25 percent of which were forsaken    Tree”, incorporated a concrete
            Hart (1965-1971) and Steve Evans     due to technical inspection          launching pad, roller starters and
            (1971-1972). Many years later each   deficiencies. With the 75-cent       hosted the world’s first “live Drag
            of them were inducted into the       spectator admission and $1.25        Racing television broadcast”!

            The Cacklefest portion of the show requires a “Drivers Meeting” to go over the schedule, formalities and safety regulations. There was
            a vast host of Drag Racing legends in attendance enjoying their walk down memory lane.

            Fall 2017                                 Nitro Madness Magazine                                          71
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