Northern California Drag Racing

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Organized drag racing began in Northern California in 1949 thanks to World War II veterans with a “need for speed.” Towns like Redding, Lodi, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Fremont would host their own drag events featuring homebuilt jalopies. Anyone with a driver’s license and a paid entry fee could participate, and as the cars got more sophisticated and faster, more and more spectators came to watch the local “speed demons.” By the 1960s, a metamorphosis began with the introduction of the slingshot-style dragsters. For the next 12 years, the slingshot dragster was the king of the quarter mile, and it made stars of Gary Ormsby, Frank Bradley, Dennis Baca, and James Warren. Meanwhile, in 1965, a funny new race car challenged “The King” as it gained popularity in Northern California. Leading this funny car charge was a Pennsylvania transplant named Russell James Liberman. However, the golden years of Northern California drag racing came to an end in the mid-1970s. Today, only 5 out of 17 drag strips are still open.
ISBN: 9781467108171
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
State: California
Series: Images of America
Images: 214
Pages: 128
Dimensions: 6.5 (w) x 9.25 (h)
Photographer Steve Reyes journeyed into the world of Northern California drag racing in 1963 as a 15-year-old kid. Upon seeing an advertisement from the Oakland Tribune that read, “Come see the nitro powered 200mph slingshot dragsters,” Reyes and his father made the 23-mile trek to the Fremont drag strip. With the noise of high-powered engines filling the air, Reyes was hooked and made it his duty to capture this one-of-a-kind world on film.
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