This two hour and fifty-six minute original movie production traces the history of Drag Racing in Florida from the pioneering days of the 1950's through the wild and crazy days of 1970's. The story follows the early use of decommissioned World War 2 airstrips for drag racing through the construction of purpose built quarter mile dragstrips in Florida. There is a whole bunch of movie film from the different decades to help illustrate the story line and some great interviews with people who were influential in the formative years of drag racing in Florida.
The video begins with a short segment from the Gatornationals at Gainesville and shifts to an interview with Bub Klingler in which he tells of racing at places such as Lake Wales, Kissimmee, Brooksville, Daytona Beach and DeLand back in the 1950's and 60's. In addition to seeing Bub race we show some famous drivers including Don Garlits, Art Malone, Joe Jacono, Wally Dallenbach and Art Arfons.
Bub was one of the first drag racers to race at the newly constructed Daytona International Raceway in 1959. They used the pit road for the drag strip and it was only used for drag racing in 1959. They also used the Raceway for the NASCAR Winter Drags in 1961 and 1962 but no longer used the pit lane. Joe Jacono takes us on a walk down memory lane with his stories of racing on the sand at Daytona Beach in 1956 and then the backstretch of the Speedway in 1961/1962. No one tells stories better than Joe Jacono.
Bub also introduces us to the 1966 NASCAR Winter Drags held at the DeLand Airfield. We are able to show you some gassers, Super Stock/A/FXers and Dragsters in action on the airstrip/dragstrip. Again very rare film.
We also have an interview with Olin Hopes who is the person responsible for starting drag racing at the Spruce Creek Airport (Daytona Beach area) in 1959. Olin began his racing career in 1954 and is still active with the Turkey Run Car Shows at the Daytona International Speedway. In 1965 NASCAR held its annual Winter Drag Races at Spruce Creek and we have some great photos of the race. Lots of big name cars and drivers were at the event and Fast Eddie Schartman was the winner with Dyno Don's 1964 Mercury Comet Station Wagon. We also have an interview with Kenny Salter who was driving the Bob Ford 1965 A/FX Mustang at the race.
Bub also introduces us to three drag strips that were in the Tampa area. The first was Tampa Dragway that was East of the City and then a track in Oldsmar which is North of the city. The Oldsmar track had two names during its years of operation. The first was Golden Triangle and later it was named Twin Cities. In addition to seeing Bub race his cars we also see Chris "The Greek" Karamesines, Pete Robinson, Marvin Schwartz and others.
The third Tampa area track was called Sunshine and it still operates today under the name Showtime Dragway. Our footage is from the mid-1960's and features footage of a “Red” Don Garlits dragster. Very rare footage. You get to see dragsters, altereds, gassers and Super Stockers. Great footage.
From there we travel to South Florida and see some of the early airstrip/dragstrips from the 1950's and 1960's. Our first stop is Amelia Earhart field and then Masters Field in Hialeah, Fl. Our guide for this segment is South Florida racer Bob Lee. Bob has been racing his entire life and he is a member of the East Coast Drag Times Hall Of Fame. We also take a look at drag racing at Davie, Fl. where once again they used an old military airstrip to hold the races back in the 1960's.
Bob Lee also introduces us to the opening of Palm Beach International Raceway in 1965. As it turns out Bob was at the first race and he talks about what happened. We also talk with Jerry Gwynn (Darrell Gwynn's dad) about opening day at Palm Beach. The inside scoop however comes from the builder of the track Mr. Ed Bucheck. Ed talks about building the drag strip and a two and a half road race course back in 1965. We have some very nice film footage from both 1965 and 1966. Ed also talks about taking the timing equipment from Palm Beach to Valkeria Dragway on Sundays so they could offer drag racing on both Saturday nights (Palm Beach) and Sunday afternoon at Valkeria.
We have a special segment dedicated to the 1971 AHRA Pro/Am Nationals at Palm Beach. Many of the stars of AHRA racing were at the event. We get to see the Top Fuel Eliminator, The Funny Car eliminator and some additional footage from the sportsman classes. We also include an interview with Tom Hoover (White Bear Dodge Funny Car) who was racing in the Funny Car Eliminator.
Our final stop is at the Miami Hollywood Dragway and once again Bob Lee introduces us to the facility. Turns out Bob lived five miles from the track and raced there on opening day in 1966 and also raced at the last race on December 12, 1992. This segment runs for an hour so you get to see many cars running on the track. The even did some four wide racing at the track but with a little different twist.
Our footage covers both daytime and nighttime racing at the track. The fuel flames at night are very cool. They raced eleven months during the year so they raced on Saturday nights during the summertime and Sunday afternoon during the wintertime.
Mopar Stock and Super Stock legend Dan Dvorak was a regular at the track and we have an interview with him where he talks about his nickname “Lawman.” Interesting story. I also included an interview with John Dee who raced a Stocker and a Super Stocker at Miami/Hollywood. John was raised in the Hollywood area and was at the first race in 1966. John also tells us about another entertainment complex that was part of the Miami/Hollywood property. It was called the Sportatorium and it was known for hosting musical concerts during the 1960's, 70's and 80's. As it turned out John saw Elvis perform there in 1977. John also tells us about the unique concrete grandstands at the track. Talk about being way ahead of their time.
We also include an interview with Jerry Gwynn where he talks about the track and his “Baby Huey” AA/FA. Great car and it is still around. We also show Jerry racing his freshly built Monza Alcohol Funny Car.
Our final segment at Miami/Hollywood is a Pro Stock feature from 1975. You see Ronnie Sox, Gapp & Roush, Roy Hill and Bob Glidden among others.
Even though this video features some of the drag strips located in Florida this is not only about Florida drag racers. As you may know Florida is a wintertime destination for many people from up North and the same holds true for drag racers from up North. Even the Pro Drag Racers from other parts of the country came to Florida to get warm and to warm-up their race vehicles. Funny they are still doing the same thing in 2022.
I would like to think this video is more than just drag racing entertainment. I hope you will enjoy learning something about the history of our great sport as you watch and listen to this documentary. We have provided relevant narration to help you understand what you are seeing on the screen as well as a wealth of historical information about the early years of Drag Racing in Florida. Please consider purchasing this video for your personal library.
Bee On Video where Drag Racing Memories Come To Life!