April '17

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30 THE SHOP APRIL 2017 E ight years ago, a seed was planted for what was to become the Quarter Mile Foundation. Following the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame induction dinner for the Class of 2009, a group of drag racing and performance aftermarket legends gathered for some brainstorming. "We began to discuss the number of legends and pioneers of the sport and the industry who had passed away, or were having serious health issues," recalls Traci Hrudka, QMF chairwoman. "As we talked, we noted how it was a shame that no one or no group had interviewed these people, and got the entire story of their career and how the sport or industry grew from the very early days." Hrudka researched the idea of inter- viewing the surviving participants of drag racing's Golden Era to get their recollec- tions of how things were back in the day. Positive responses resulted in what became the QMF, and the goal of interviewing and then creating a multi-episode documentary depicting how the sport developed and gave birth to the performance aftermarket from post-World War II to the end of the 1980s. TELLING THEIR STORIES From the beginning, the focus has been to create a documentary series with interviews broken down into topics, and those topics to be folded into other interviewees' recol- lections to give several perspectives about each particular area of focus. Work began with the creation of a data- base of key pioneers and legends to be interviewed. The diverse group included people from the aftermarket industry, automaker employees who supported the sport, racers, chassis and engine builders, sanctioning body executives, journalists, photographers, sponsors, promoters, track owners and others who influenced the sport and the industry. The single biggest success so far has been the gathering of 265 interviews and 350- plus hours of oral histories. "Little did we know at the time that we were recording the last interviews of Carroll Shelby, Joe Mondello, Louis Senter, Bill Smith, Grumpy Jenkins, and some others." says Hrudka. "Other notable interviewees include: Don Garlits, Dave McClelland, Jon Lundberg Sr., Vic Edelbrock Jr., Harvey Crane, Joe Amato, Linda Vaughn, Joe Schubeck, Kenny Youngblood, Nick Arias and Alex Xydias." The Foundation also held three suc- cessful fundraising roasts featuring Gar- lits, Vaughn and Larry Morgan that have provided much-needed financial support for the project. Additionally, the Founda- tion's presence at the SEMA and PRI shows and the York/U.S. 30 Reunions has proven useful and cost-effective, since those events attract interviewees. Furthermore, the grouping of interviews at several central geographic sites such as the zMAX Dragway and the Rick Hendrick museum in Charlotte, the Lingenfelter PERFORMANCE DRAG RACING'S The Quarter Mile Foundation continues to collect tales from the glory days. By Tony Thacker DOCUMENTING Storied Past No drag racing documentary would be complete without the thoughts of John Force. Gathering stories from engine builder Ed Pink. A trip down memory lane with IHRA Funny Car driver Bunny Burkett. Interview with Don "The Snake" Prudhomme reminiscing about the sport's Golden Era.

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