Book Name: Drag Racing in the 1960s
Publisher: CarTech Autobooks and Manuals
Number of pages: 176
Year first published: 2021
Author: Doug Boyce
Car Tech books sent me a review copy of Drag Racing in the 1960s. This book is squarely in my wheelhouse.
My first exposure to legalized drag racing came when I subscribed to Car Craft magazine in the early ’60s. I had never seen the magazine before, but my school had one of those magazine subscription fundraisers, so I convinced my mom to sign me up. As fate would have it, my first issue was largely devoted to the ’64 Winternationals, AKA the “Big Go West.”
A great era of drag racing
I can still remember the thrill I felt reading about that incredible contest. I couldn’t believe all those great cars came together for a single race. They made the Winternats seem like Woodstock, only with cars. To say that issue hooked me on drag racing is an understatement.
I spent an inordinate amount of time following the sport over the next several decades, but the storied people and cars from the ’60s towered over whatever came afterward. The front-engine fuel and gas rails, the gas coupe wars, the A/FX match racers and the original flip-top funny cars were all products of that era.
Doug Boyce has done a masterful job tracing the stars and cars from that era. The book allowed me to time travel back to when I hung at the local dragstrip as often as possible.
The story unfolds, year by year
Each chapter covers a specific year, and Boyce delves into the state-of-the-art cars and teams for that year. Just about any team that made headlines during that time receives credit in this volume. Rails, altereds, competition coupes, gassers, modifieds and A/FXers are all represented in these pages. Boyce even shines a spotlight on Stock and Super Stock entries.
The book’s subtitle is “The Evolution in Race Car Technology” and it would be difficult to think up anything more appropriate. In 1960, most of the cars were fairly crude, hand-built affairs. Constructed in garages or under the shade tree in the backyard, these machines were rough and inelegant.
You would find Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and early Hemi powerplants between the rails of the better cars. Speed equipment consisted of homemade or modified factory parts.
Progress never sleeps
By 1970, all that had changed. Professional chassis shops were churning out beautiful engineered cars, which utilized a plethora of high-tech speed equipment. Advances in safety gear protected drivers and fans. The Chevy “rat motor,” the Ford SOHC Cammer, and the legendary 426 Hemi became the default powerplants for the pro classes. Top Gas dragsters faded away, but the new Pro Stock Eliminator kept the major auto manufactures involved.
This book showcases all these advances causing the reader to marvel over how much everything changed during that significant decade.
Drag Racing in the 1960s explores quarter mile history
Of course, it would be a travesty to offer a book like this without photos. Thankfully you will find hundreds of images of the cars that defined this period. Every page contained photos of cars that I had long forgotten.
In addition, the book managed to dredge up photos of cars I never knew existed. It is a cliche to suggest this book will take the reader back in time, yet that is precisely what it did for me.
In some places, the book differs from what I remember, but that might be my memory playing tricks. Most of these events occurred a half-century ago.
My only real criticism concerns the book’s design. Overall it looks good, but the introductory paragraph of each chapter is difficult to read. Someone chose a very thin font and overlaid the text over symbolic ghosted photographs from that year. The text is rendered in a medium gray that fades into the photo. I had to squint and move the light around to read the initial text. It is only the first paragraph for each chapter, but it would have been nice if the text was more legible,
All in all, it is a minor thing. The rest of the book is an exciting look at the sport’s history. The outstanding photos make this a must-have book for any lover of formative years of drag racing,
Available from Car Tech Books
Drag Racing in the 1960s can be ordered from CarTech Books at 800-551-4754, or purchased through the website at www.cartechbooks.com.
Available now from Amazon
Other Racing Books from Doug Boyce: