Tenn., May 19 & 20 -- 1962's Southeastern Divisional Championship got off
to a sizzling start on Saturday afternoon when Jim Nelson fired his big
supercharged single-engine Dodge Dart powered Dragmaster 'AA' to new, certified
National Records of 176.12 mph and 8.63 seconds elapsed time.
This outstanding speed performance bettered the record held by Jim's partner,
Dode Martin, who set drag racing's top speed mark of 175.78 mph during last
year's Nationals at Indianapolis.
Jim's new 8.63 e.t., the quickest elapsed time ever officially recorded and
verified, broke the Howard Cams Special twin Chevy's record of 8.74 seconds
which was new only this year, having been set during the Winternationals
Championships at Pomona.
The Dart, a new low-profile Dragmaster 'Dart' chassis, uses a Dodge engine of
425.5 cubic inches. A GMC 6-71 blower rests on a new Hilborn 4-port injection
system with high-rev twist furnished by an Iskenderian roller tappet assembly.
Mallory Mini-Mag is used to fire the bear, which was built by Dragmaster Co.
Californians flooded the pits of the Memphis Divisional, where more than a dozen
states were represented in competition. Jack Chrisman, 1961 World Points
Champion, made a good showing with his twin Pontiacs AA-dragster, the Mickey
Thompson Enterprises Special, but encountered head gasket failure on the twin's
rear engine and wasn't able to get "everything" out of the sporty rig.
Chrisman did, however, meet Nelson at the line Sunday on the final run for Top
Eliminator. Tension mounted as the two 'AA' rails were rolled into staging, for
riding on the win was 40 points in the current World Points Championship
As the two rigs rumbled at the line, the flag went up, but Chrisman wasn't ready
and Nelson made a quick trip over the 1320. Chrisman, showing true
sportsmanship, declined Nelson's offer to re-run and the cup was presented to
smilin' Jim, who had done a terrific job with the Dart during the entire event.
Seven National Records fell during the Divisional Championship, including two
new stocker marks.
Bob Reed of Marion, Ohio, shared the "hot" class records spotlight
with Nelson. Running a Chevy in a '39 Chevy coupe for G-gas competition, Reed
honked a 90.81 mph in 14.95 seconds for official class National Records. His
records will not be entered, however, for only one week earlier, new G/G marks
were set at the Arlington, Wash., Regional.
In the stock ranks, Elwin Westbrook provided the show during record runs. All
the way from Ontario, Calif., Elwin's '60 Chevy, sponsored by Airline Auto
Sales, swept through the beams to a 99.88 mph record, coupled with a low 14.06
e.t. mark. His car, equipped with a 348 plant, is a fiery red tudor Biscayne.
Also grabbing off a stock mark was Roy Dye of Memphis. Roy, who handles a '62
Chevy Impala 4-door, waltzed off with a certified mark of 89.82 mph after the
day's record runs for the E-stock automatic class record.
record runs out of the way, it was time to resume eliminations once again. The
Middle Eliminator runoffs created a great deal of buzzing in the pits, for truly
front runners were making their bids for the Divisional title as well as the 40
points that went with it:
In line for the cup was A-dragster winner Harry Hovis of St. Louis, Mo.;
B-dragster champs Love & Thomas of Oklahoma City; and popular home-towner
Ray Godman with his new A-modified roadster.
Final go for the glitter pitted Hovis in his 'Spirit of St. Louis' Chevy 'A'
against Godman's 'Bo-Weevil'. Hovis had dumped the Love & Thomas team's 'B'
on the first leg. At the flag, Godman's Chrysler bogged just enough to give the
hard-charging St. Louis flyer an edge and Harry made off with the Middle honors.
Junior Eliminator honors fell to the Pacemakers Special Chevy powered C/D all
the way from Middletown, Ohio. The Pacemakers rig eliminated Milton Potter's
A-roadster on the last go. Potter had earlier dusted Don Burch's chargin'
Chrysler A/R from Amarillo, Texas which had garnered class honors.
Stock Eliminator proved to be as exciting as usual, especially to the fans. The
field was comprised of a variety of cars, with everything from Chevys to
Chryslers in the lineup. Favorite for the cup was Westbrook's Airline Auto Sales
entry, which had set the new National Records. Couple the Chevy's performance
with Westbrook's quick line jobs and you have a good combination.
However, when the smoke had cleared, it was for one of those new 413-inch Dodges
picking up the trophy. The bad '62 Dodge driven by none other than Capt. John
McMahan of Memphis, whipped a quick 12.73 e.t. at 103.30 mph on the dual-lane
Chrondeks for the Divisional Stock Champion title.
McMahan has been known in the Southeastern drag racing circles for many years.
He has handled Plymouth and Dodge stockers to many a victory on the area's
strips and will surely be a threat this year with the 410 horsepower entry.
The Southeast Divisional was the first of seven to be held during the season.
Next Divisional is scheduled for the Eastern section of the U.S., to be held at
York U.S. 30 Drag-O-Way, York, Pa., on July 7. National Record runs are features
of the championships with 40 bonus points the main attraction at the major