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

American Racing Performance Museum ready roar..........

Marco DeCesaris has his American Racing Performance Museum/Facebook page up and running. Take a look at some of the cars now in the collection! Marco has been working diligently to get the museum incorporated and now registered as a 501(c)3 designation. The museum is also listed as a member of the National Association of Automobile Museums. The museum is a non-profit organization.

The goal of the museum is to be one of the top collections dedicated to the development and history of Detroit built race cars and include documentation of originality of each vehicle, as well as their lineage. The collection will include famous race cars from Stock through the Pro Stock ranks, plus memorabilia, parts, etc. from the 1960's and 70's.

The museum presently houses a wide variety of drag cars on the grounds of Marco's Garage in Lothain, MD. Appointments are required for viewing of groups of six or less. Contact info; Marco DeCesaris at 240-375-4329 EST or via email


POCONO DRAG LODGE REUNION 2016.................

Bear Creek, PA (8/13/2016) - The 8th annual Pocono Drag Lodge Reunion saw about 200 drag race vehicles and classic muscle cars on display at this year's event for the spectators to view and recall the "OLD" days of drag racing! Headlining the event was former Top Fuel Champion, Joe Amato, who started his racing career at the now closed facility. Pocono Drag Lodge operated from 1963 through 1971.

Reunion planner extrodinaire, Charlie Hulsizer, was pleased with the participation, but noted that he does not know what the future will bare for the event as the property owner is in poor health and his family is uncertain of their plans with the land. The event raises dollars to pay the property taxes each year.

For more info please Call Charlie at 845-635-3662, or email (8/22/16) Inductee presentations a success............

Carlisle, PA (7/16/16) -'s Harry Laplatte, along with Marco DeCesaris made the trip to the Chrysler at Carlisle event in grand style, where they met Jim Hall and the Golden Commandos. The meeting was in the planning stages for some time and the Inductee plaques were presented to the members on hand. Per Harry, the show was great and getting to chat with these icons of Drag Racing was definitely a privilege to me! (7/21/2016)



Marco Decesaris presents Golden Commando, Jim Hall his 2016 Inductee plaque. Several other team members were also on site.


2016 Inductees to be crowned at Carlisle Chrysler Nationals

This year, the 2016 Inductees will see's, Harry Laplatte, make the trip from
his home base in Jupiter, FL to present the awards at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, July 15-17. Presentation will be on Saturday, the 16th at the Golden Commandos tent/display area. The event features over 2500 Mopars of all shapes and sizes, plus new model Chrysler products, a manufacturers midway, a swap meet and lots more to hold your interest. Headlining the activities this year will be Richard Petty of NASCAR fame! (6/27/2016)

Bob Gerdes / Circus Custom Paint claims final 2016 Inductee spot....

During the 60's and 70's race cars had wild beautiful paint jobs prior to the inclusion and financial backing of corporate sponsors where the cars became rolling billboards with gigantic logos pushing products. Some say this was the demise of the iconic styles, but Bob Gerdes of Circus Custom Paint was without a doubt the foremost painter of race cars in the northeast! Bob painted many cars throughout the years, but we all remember the likes of "Jungle" Jim's Chevrolet Funny Cars, Ken Poffenberger's Corvair F/C and many more.

Bob and his crew are still painting cars at the Farmingdale, NJ shop. (6/13/2016)

2015 Inductee Paul Rossi

Well it took a little while (close to a year) to finally get a photo of 2015 Drag Race Hall inductee, Paul Rossi with his plaque! Paul was attending the 7th Annual Detroit Dragway Reunion held at Milan Dragway today. Paul competed in the Stock Super/Stock wars of the 60's and 70's. (6/12/2016)





Golden Commandos 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) 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)

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 raers 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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