Drag races are sort of like alley fights. Both opponents bring their best muscle and have prepared to jump off the line and win, but it’s anyone’s guess just what will happen when it’s go time.
Never mind just how badass your car might look, muscle doesn’t have much to do with drag racing success. In fact, the pro drag cars run bicycle wheels on the front end, and the most dazzling of funny cars are made of plastic.
Now, let’s apply the wonderful animosity that welled up in the 1970’s between the American muscle cars and the Japanese imports. Rice burners, they were called, and not too many took them seriously.
So it was with special fascination that we enjoyed a match up between a ’69 Camaro and a little Datsun with s rotary engine. It looks like a condor next to a pigeon, and the sheer roar of the Camaro, and the sheet of white smoke from the slicks made an impressive sight next to the little coup that looked more like a toy.
As they both jumped off the line, blaming past the less-than-hot flagger, almost immediately the Camaro hid a bad slide, and the kinetic energy behind its fishtailing as enough to make us hold out breath as we watched.
It swerved and rocked, smashing through a cone, as the Datsun held a tight and true line, matching the Camaro for speed until the muscle car careened into the Datsun’s lane.
My Uncle Larry was a drag racer. I can remember climbing on his slicks when I was a little boy. They were stacked out by the barn on their land outside Portland. Those massive wide tires with absolutely no treads on them. Slick, for certain.
Larry spent a decent amount of time in the hospital, always as a result of his racing.
Good times, that.