Golden Commandos added to 2016 Inductee List

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Honoring the great Drag Racers of the day from 1900 to 1973

HARRY here

Golden Cammandos Drag Team joins 2016 Inductee List....

Well known in drag racing circles in the 1960's was a group of Chrysler employees, all engineers, technicians and mechanics, that worked out of the Central Engineering Department in Highland Park, MI. Their initial foray included (3) three Plymouth's chosen to complete at the 1963 NHRA

Winternationals in Pomona, CA. If you recall, this was the era that paid homage to the saying, "Race on Sunday sell on Monday!" The team was also instrumental in the birth of the funny car when they started pushing the so called envelope and altering the wheelbase of their cars and progressing to the first flip top body in 1967. Needless to say, the Golden Commandos were a group of dedicated race aficionados that contributed much to the then burgeoning sport of drag racing. (4/20/2016) hooks up with Marco's Garage

The Drag Race Hall of's, Harry Platte has been out and about of late thrashing on a variety of vintage race machines and classic cars in Jupiter, FL. For the past year or so, Harry has been in continuous talks with Marco DeCesaris about linking DeCesaris' museum/car collection with the The collection is located in Maryland. All things are now in line and the shall be housed as part of the DeCesaris collection. We are presently seeking 501C3 status for the, which hopefully will be approved shortly. On that note, we are pursuing donations for plaques, etc. for the 2016 inductees. For additional and donation information email Harry at; 2016 Inductee- Donation Program ( or give him a call at 561-301-6840. Also in the works is Harry has been in search of a building to house a collection of Drag Racing memorabilia and vintage drag vehicles. Here's Harry (right) and a building he is in discussion for the permanent location to house the Drag Race Hall of The building here is in Georgia with plenty of space. (3/19/16)

Lamar Walden makes 2016 inductee list............
Lamar Walden, who passed away last year (8/28/15) is the second inductee for this year. Lamar long known for his prowess with the fabled "W" block Chevrolet engine is a well deserved addition to the lineup.

Lamar built some of the quickest and fastest 409's on the planet and holds the distinction of owning one the original 1969 COPO Camaros and a 2012 COPO Camaro as well. His contributions to Drag Racing are numerous. (1/17/16) 2016 Inductee process underway.............

We have started the selection process for the 2016 inductees and the first person chosen is Annunziata Romano, better known in the racing community as Nunzi. Nunzi is without a doubt one of the true throwbacks to the past specializing in the performance, tuning and development of Pontiac engines. Starting back in his shop in Brooklyn, NY in the 1960's, he went on to build and race some of the quickest and fastest Pontiac powered vehicles in the country.

Along with Nunzi several other inductees shall be announced in the coming months with presentation ceremonies to be announce as well. (1/13/16)

George Phillips - NHRA

Longtime NHRA employee, George Phillips passed away yesterday (12/28/15) of kidney cancer. George was a supporter of the NHRA Junior Dragster program and did a great job helping to develop and make the program successful. George's tenure included stints at National Dragster and in the NHRA Field Department.

George was definitely one of the 'good guys" in drag racing that worked behind the scenes never getting the recognition he deserved! (12/29/15)


Roger Gustin passes

One of the most prolific racers, Roger Gustin, passed away yesterday! Roger a longtime friend and business associate campaigned race cars since the late 1950's, then moving onto being the person that made Jet Car racing an accepted attraction at tracks all around the country. His most famous car was the "Lava Machine" funny car. Roger worked tirelessly with the NHRA to develop rules and safety regulations for jet powered exhibition vehicles. Later in his illustrious career, he took over the Autostar Publications Super Chevy Shows prior to purchasing the show portion of the business. Roger always had his brothers Phil and Bill with him and they formed Gustin Racing. Gustin Racing campaigned and built a variety of jet powered race cars, plus the occasional jet powered track dryer for several tracks around the country. Needless to say, he will be missed! (12/15/15)

Wild four door Chevy II Altered

Over the years, we have seen some wild looking race vehicles, but this early model Chevy II has to rank up there as one of the oddest! The car originally rolled off the production line as a four door, but the ingenious builders cut the front door section off hence making it into a two door model. The body sits on what appears to be a tube chassis and as you can is powered by a small block Chevrolet engine.

If you have any information on the vehicle let us know. (11/23/2015) DRHOF info

Ed Youmans claimed 422 ALLSTARS Nostalgia Drag Racing Series title.....

Ed Youmans claimed his second 422 Allstars Championship title! The title came down to the last event, which was held at Capitol Raceway in Crofton, MD. Mathematically Ed was leading, but Gary Nies or Anthony Pappas would have had to take the number one qualifying position and win the event to overtake Ed. Needless to say, things fell into place for Ed. Ed's first championship title came in 2011 at the season ending event held at ATCO Dragway, while driving Dave Power's 1964 FE powered Comet.

Ed, who drives the 422 Motorsports 1967 Fairlane did and outstanding job going rounds, plus scoring two wins, two semifinal finishers, plus several round wins accumulating a total of 287 points. Youmans is trailed by runner-up Gary Nies (271) and teammate Anthony Pappas with (270) in third place. Dave Reitz was fourth and Tom Sneden fifth.

Incidentally, the names Sneden and Reitz, whom campaigned the Bob Banning sponsored Dodges in the 1960's and 70's.These two drivers now in their eighties still compete in the 422 Allstars Nostalgia Drag Racing Series in their period 1960's Dodges!

Youmans will receive his championship awards and check at the annual award ceremonies in January 2016. For additional information on the 422 Allstars contact Rich Lamaont at 610-630-6563 or email (11/10/2015)

George Barris "The King of Customizers" dies at age 89......

George Barris passed away on Thursday (11/5/15) at the age of 89. The builder and creator of many of the now famous movie and television cars for the Munsters, Batman, the Beverly Hillbillies, Mannix, plus a plethora of custom cars like the Ala Kart and Bob Hirohata's 1951 Mercury to name a few.

Barris stayed involved right up to the end attending many car shows and events always ready to stop and talk to his m,any fans along with signing autographs. Barris is survived by his daughter, son and grandson. His wife Shirley passed away in 2001. (11/5/15)

Hubert Platt........gone September 26, 2015

We lost another great racer this week Hubert Platt. Hubert was diagnosed with liver and gallbladder cancer this past June before passing on September 26th.

Platt campaigned a series of Fords from Stockers, Super Stockers, Pro Stock and Funny Cars throughout the years and was one of the first to receive the now fabled 1968 Mustang Cobra Jets. Platt started his racing career in the late 1960 shoeing a 1938 (A/G and B/G) and then 1957 Chevrolet for the Terminal Transport Team, prior to becoming "Dyno" Don Nicholson's teammate driving a 409 Chevrolet in 1962, then a 1963 Z-11 Impala. After that he had a connection with Ford Motor Company and raced many different Ford products.

In later years, Hubert attended many events and reminisced with fans, plus racing buddies that he raced during his heydey! (9/26/2015)




Lamar Walden....gone August 28, 2015

Lamar Walden well known racer and undoubtedly the King of the Chevrolet "W" engines passed away on August 28th. Lamar is the only racer we know of that had one of the original 1969 COPO Camaro and then the new COPO in a 2012 model. Lamar performed magic with the 348-409 engines for over fifty years and holds the all-time record at 7.17 seconds at 196 mph for a 409 powered Pro Mod Chevrolet!

Throughout the years, Lamar kept tweaking the old W engine and developed an all aluminum 509/409 based on a Bill Mitchell Products casting.

In 2014,'s, Harry Laplatte spent some time with Lamar at his shop in Georgia and in Harry's words was magical. Lamar had one of the first 265 cubic inch Chevrolet engines on display, dated 1954. (9/20/2015)

Bill "Maverick"Golden passes................

Bill Golden, a.k.a. "Maverick," passed away this past week. Bill well known as the father of the wheel stander, "the Little Red Wagon" started his racing career back in the early fifties campaigning a new 1958 Dodge, then moving on to a series of Cross-Ram Mopars until 1964 when he received one of the first A990 426 Hemi Dodges. In late 1964, Bill was invited to Chrysler head quarters, in Detroit, where Frank Wylie (Chrysler's chief of public relations) proposed the opportunity to drive there companies A100 pickup with a Hemi engine in the rear. Chrysler actually built the truck to run A/FX, but the truck had the tendency to lift the front wheels in the lights! In early testing, the truck did break the national record for A/FX. Bill brought the truck back to California where they ended up using it for match-races and exploit the "wheelie truck". and so they say the rest is history. Bill from being the King of the Dodge Super Stocks to the King of wheelstanders.

Having known Bill throughout the years can only say, he was always a gentleman and one of the great performers on a drag strip. Bill made time for his fans stopping to chat and explain the intricacies of the "Little Red Wagon"

to all that would listen. Over the years, there were several "Little Red Wagons" probablt four or five, while the original truck was destroyed in 1975 crash. On a side note; the original wrecked truck is owned by a guy in Allentown, PA.

So we lose another legend from the era and as they say "God speed" to a gentleman and great person! (9/15/2015)

Bill Golden (far lane) racing the Hot Rod Magazine SS/SA Dodge and driven by Brock Yates in 1962. Look at Bill looking over at Yates with just about a fender lead!

Paul Rossi 2015 Inductee

Paul Rossi along with Dan Dvorak were chosen as 2016 inductees, but after the initial tally of votes Harry Laplatte chose to slide both Dan and Paul into the class of 2015. Harry has been in constant contact with both racers so amidst their prodding the decision was quite easy with both racer's credentials speaking for themselves.

Paul Rossi a longtime drag racer running a series of Hemi Mopars along with a stint in a Mercury Comet in the 1960's and 1970' (1976 NHRA Super/Stock runner-up), before moving on to compete in IMSA (International Motorsports Association), where he scored five wins. Paul also ran at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb claiming four wins. (8/24/2015)


Dan Dvorak 2015 inductee..................

Drag Race Hall of's Harry Laplatte had a successful trip up north making inductee presentations to Neal Hinkle and the Napp Family (Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ) prior to his return back home in Florida. On the trip back, Harry stopped by the shop on Mopar maven Dan Dvorak at his Waldo, FL shop. Harry along with Florida representative, Steve Ritter (left) presented Dan's plaque to him. Dan, needless to say is one of the countries standout Mopar engine builders and authorities on 1960's Plymouth's and Dodges. (8/20/2015) awards presentation at RACEWAY PARK

The 2015 awards were presented to a a few of the inductees at Raceway Park's "Old Time Drags" event this past Sunday. On hand was Neal Hinkle from Allentown, PA along with his family and several pieces of his former Corvette Altered. Neal also campaigned a injected Nova Funny Car. 1989 Funny Car World Champion, Bruce Larson, accepted the Inductee plaque for Stanley C. Shoppel who passed away earlier this year. Bruce will deliver the plaque to Stanley's wife shortly on his return to his Dauphin, PA home. Walter Frey, the track manager at Raceway Park, accepted the plaque for the Napp Family, the owners of the well-known race facility (Raceway Park Englishtown, NJ). Thanks to John McCartney from Raceway Park for sending us the photo of Harry Laplatte and Neal Hinkle during the on track awards presentations.

Still to receive plaques are Mike Summers, Dan Davorak, Joseph Gerdelman and Paul Rossi. Paul sent a message saying, how much being inducted meant to him.'s Harry Laplatte will deliver his plaque at an event later this year. (7/27/15)

Final class of 2015 inductees selected..........

Final candidates chosen for the 2015 Drag Race Hall of inductees. Along with Mike Summers, Joseph Gerdelman and Stanley C. Shoppel two other outstanding candidates are now included for 2015. Neal Hinkle a former racer from the Allentown, PA area and the Napp Family who built and operate the well-known Oldbridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. Neal raced for many years concentrating his racing endeavors in the Pennsylvania area at tracks like Vargo, Pocono Drag Lodge, Numidia, Island Dragway (NJ) and Maple Grove Raceway. Neal campaigned a 1961 Corvette in B/SP, a 58' Corvette C/A and the former "Jungle Jim" 1969 Chevy II as a B/A. Neal still dables with cars operating Neil's Performance Center, in Allentown, PA.

The last inductee for 2015 is the Napp Family, who built and operate Raceway Park in NJ. The track has been one of the most historic tracks on the east coast throughout the 1960's and onward. Vinny and Richard, who have both passed away have left the track in the capable hands of sons Michael, Alex and David.

We are happy to the include Mike Summers as previously announced as well. Mike well known on the east coast at many tracks and by many racers is by far one of the best starters in the country and track prep technicians. His dedication to his craft, which includes track preparation and attention to detail with safety of the racer prominently and always his number one priority. Mike's initial dabblings in drag racing go way back as a crewman on Carl Ruth's TA/FC in the early 80's, prior to the becoming the Chief Starter at Maple Grove Raceway for many years, then moving on doing several starting line stints at Numidia Dragway and Cecil Country Dragway. Mike is a fixture to many of the NHRA Division 1 tracks and has honed his skills well over the years. Mike Summers like so many of our inductees is one of those people that make the sport great! (3/29/2015)

Harry Laplatte presents 2014 Inductee Bob Lee's Harry Laplatte finally caught 2014 inductee presenting him with his inductee plaque. Harry came into contact wit Bob Lee at an event held at Palm Beach International Raceway, then made a visit to his shop in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where he has operated since 1968. Bob's racing career started way back in the 1950's, when he won his first trophy driving a 1951 Studebaker in E/S. During the same time period he also ran a flathead powered Crosley wagon on methanol. Later, in 1963, Bob got real serious starting construction of his 4-speed, 283" Chevrolet powered 1932 Ford coupe dubbed the "Thunder Shifter!" He campaigned the coupe until 1972, when Bob switched his efforts into road racing. The "Thunder Shifter" coupe is still owned by Bob and was brought back to better than new and now runs periodically at nostalgia style events. (1/19/2015)


2014 Inductee Ceremonies at Island Dragway....

Island Dragway, located in Great Meadows, NJ, the site of the first officially recognized 200 mph run by the NHRA and recorded by Don Garlits back in August 1964 saw the return of Garlits to the hallowed site, plus the 2014 induction ceremonies for the Drag Race Hall of Fame. Albert Bambace, along with his daughter Isabel accepted for his dad/her grandfather, Joseph Bambace, posthumously. Joe Bambace campaigned a 1964 Plymouth Hemi called the "11th Commandment," back in the day prior to moving up to a 1965 Hemi. The 65' car later was modified into an altered wheelbase A/FX'er. (August 2, 2014)



2014 Inductees named....The class of 2014 nominated five inductees. Leading off the pack is Joseph Bambace followed by photographer and graphic designer, Steve Bell, custom car painter Bob Gerdes, racer Bob Lee and the last, the deceased Paul Linderman. Linderman's name may not be familiar as he passed away in 1964 while racing a Super Stock Dodge in Canada, Linderman also owned a Dodge dealership. The accident occurred at the completion of his pass and while attempting to push the neutral button he hit the reverse pushbutton by mistake. The car went into reverse and flipped violently when the seatbelt attachments ripped out of the floor. Unfortunate happenings such as this is how many of the safety measures were introduced into drag racing. (2/5/2014)

Happy 50th 426 HEMI engine...

The 426 cubic inch Hemi was available in February 1964 strictly sold as a race engine. The first Hemis made their way into NASCAR with Richard Petty taking his famous #43 to several wins before NASCAR disallowed the venerable engine in competition. The 1964 Plymouths' and Dodges' instantly became the ultimate race cars of the era in NHRA drag racing circles and still today racers covet owning one of these treasures. Originally built for Super Stock the basic engine has become the standard for Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars as well as the SS/AH Hemi Barracudas and Darts (1968/69). In 1966, Chrysler came out with a milder detuned version called the Street Hemi, which made it accessible to the general public. Prior to the Street Hemi powered cars only a select few of proven racers were able to obtain one of these jewels.

Our own Harry Laplatte's Dad, Harold, purchased a 1964 Hemi Plymouth and campaigned it in the mid-60's. The car, called the "Satellite" ran on the East Coast. Fortunately, the car is now in the care of Wade Laplatte (Harry's brother) in its original form. Take note of the seven inch rear slicks! (2/7/2014)

Who raced the earliest 1964 Mustang?

Here's what we do know; In late 1964, Ford contracted Holman & Moody to prepare ten 427-powered Mustangs' to contest the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) A/Factory Experimental class in the 1965 drag racing season. Five of these special Mustangs qualified for competition debuting at the 1965 NHRA Winternationals, where they competed in the Factory Stock Eliminator class. The car driven by Bill Lawton won the A/FX class and his connection with TASCA Ford is now legendary in drag racing history. Several other notable driver's including Len Ritcher, "Gas" Ronda, Dick Brannan, Les Ritchey, Al Joniec, Terry Harvey, Clester Andrews, Paul Norris, Phil Bonner to name a few participated. The Mustangs were a replacement for the infamous 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt, which were outfitted with the tried and true 427 FE side-oiler sporting dual Holley four barrel carburetors. The 427 cubic inch "Cammers" were originally designed for NASCAR to battle against the 426 Plymouth and Dodge Hemis of the era, but both the Cammer and Hemi were outlawed and transitioned into the drag racing, hence the A/FX Mustangs.

Mike Matune did track down the list and article provided by Charles Morris of the ten A/FX Mustangs built for competition; Car Tech Auto Books article HERE

  •     5F09K380230, Dick Brannan
  •     5F09K380231, Show car   
  •     5F09K380232, Tasca Ford (Bill Lawton)
  •     5F09K380233, Performance Associates (Les Ritchey)
  •     5F09K380234, Wickersham Ford (Clester Andrews)
  •     5F09K380235, Al Swenson Ford (Al Joniec)
  •     5F09K380236, Holman & Moody (Paul Norris)
  •     5F09K380237, Paul Harvey/Bob Ford (Len Richter)
  •     5F09K380238, Phil Bonner
  •     5F09K380239, Russ Davis Ford (Gas Ronda)

UPDATE - From what Mike has been able to ascertain, Ron Pellegrini campaigned a 1964 Mustang notch-back with a 427 FE motor in 1964. The drive-train came from the Hawkison 1964 Ford Thunderbolt. More information on the car in the Car Tech article Ford’s 1965 Factory Experimental Mustangs (2/14/2014)




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