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Ingenuity in Action: Detroit Dragway in 1959

Now we’re going back, way back to 1959, for the NHRA Nationals at Detroit Dragway.

This is not my work, I have already related that I didn’t start attending races at the ditch until 1966, eight years after this film was made. Ingenuity in Action was produced by Sid Davis and sponsored by Hot Rod magazine. It follows Jim Nelson and the DragMaster team as they head out from California to attend the nationals at Detroit.

The movie is in two parts. The initial 12 minute segment offers some nice arial views of Detroit Dragway, including a dragster boiling the hides as it nears the finish line. The flick then moves to the west coast and follows the racers as they make their way to the motor city, including a regional race in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Although the movie was made over fifty years ago, I was surprised that drag racing was portrayed as a positive, fun activity. In the fifties, drag racers were often characterized by the media as hoodlums or delinquents.

If anyone remembers the Wonderful World of Disney, then you have a good idea of what to expect from this film. The music and narration are quite reminiscent of the documentaries Disney would broadcast on the popular Sunday evening program.

I’ll post the second part in a couple of days. Part II takes place almost exclusively at Detroit Dragway, presenting plenty of footage of what the track looked like when it was first constructed. Some famous early diggers and gassers take part in the second segment, so be sure to watch for it.

 

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