Zenfolio | Richard Hardway Photography, Pittsburgh portrait, wedding and event photographer | Flashlight Drags July 7, 2013

Flashlight Drags July 7, 2013

Flash poster I was on the road and it was good. I was playin' Carly Simon on the cassette player and traffic was light. I followed the car in front me with much anticipation. It was the big day, the day for the PID Reunion at the Flashlight Drags in Waynesburg. Jim Senkewitz had his car packed full of every piece of memorabilia he could stuff into his Century without poppin' the windows. We cruised down the highway without regard for the speed limit or the rain that sprinkled our windshields just beyond Bridgeville.

   The trip down 79 ended at the Waynesburg exit just before John Denver had a chance  to sing about the "West Virginia Mountain Momma" . Just down the road we turned in to the Greene County Airport. At last. We reached the drag strip with an elapse time of 43.20 minutes from the Churchill exit on 376, it was 10:13, the sun jumpin' from cloud to cloud -it was a great day.

   Mike Schindel and his crew greeted us and we toured the track and thought what a great venue for the dragster reunion. I though what could be better as I ignored the gray clouds on the horizon. The next few minutes were spent setting up tables and watching Jim Henderson and his son Scott prep his Chevy for the much awaited grudge match with Bob Libertore and his '63 big block Ford.

FL1.001e FL1.004e

I though this is gonna be great as the gray clouds tuned to black. The racers got in a run or two before the rains came. I thought, "no worries " it's just after 11 and we all knew it was clearing up. It would blow through. I did manage to take a few quick shots of some of the cars in the lot before I had to cover the camera and dash to the cover of the hot sausage stand, the aroma made me order-one hot sausage and a Mountain Dew, of course. The Greene hills began to cover with a damp mist. We all thought -the radar on the iphones will prove our optimism, we would be rewarded. Jim and I jumped into my Lesabre to dodge the passing shower after we covered the tables and such and waited for the shower to pass. The hardier crews still continued to "tweek" their cars between the raindrops.

   The old 87 Buick was a fine shelter for the 2 , then 3, then 4, of us as the rain got harder. nothing to do but wait it out. The conversations began, remembering the good old days, the drivers, the cars and the good times. I sat back and took in the mini-reunion. Bob Wenzelburger snapped a photo, as he often does, but this time of the inside of a car. He took a picture of Jim, PID's former starter and current ace promoter and a gentleman that was introduced to me as Harry Luzader.

As the events continue the passengers came and went until finally it is just me and Harry. He spoke with a quiet confidence as he answered the many questions I asked him about his cars and his racing days. Little did I know, I was talking to racing royalty from back in the day. As long as the rain was comin' I had a captive audience and the time evaporated as I listened and learned about the '32 Ford dragster that owned the strip in the 60's and 70's. I heard about the high school kids "fast car" that later set records and won championships. His car was chosen as one of the 75 most significant 32 Fords ever made on its 75 anniversary. I also learned about the "Opel GT" that he plans to restore in the near future, there's a blast from the past. It had to be hard to talk about his successes and not brag, but he didn't. He could have told me much more, I know, I looked it upon the net. But, wouldn't you know it, ahhh, the rain let up and Harry had to go. I looked at the dash and the clock said almost 2. The sky was still annoyingly gray. The decision was made, no drags today, except for one -we weren't having drags today, (pun intended).

FL1.HLe Harrys 32e FL1.75e Harrys Opel e

   After all the apologies were made the tents were packed and the trailers loaded  -it was back to the highway and heading north with the defrosters on. I was thinking again, -who would have won that race? I guess there is a chance we could still find out.  PID day is rescheduled, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise, (again) for August 4th, mark your calendar. As for me, I can't say I had a reunion because I wasn't there in the glory days, but I did drive away with a great appreciation for what it must have been like. As I approached Bridgeville I had to put on the air and sunglasses. What is it about Bridgeville, oh yah. See you there on the 24th at the Sonic, PID reunion. I drove away to the sound of the Beach Boys singin' "Little Deuce Coupe" and just thinking, I might be thinking too much.................... YIKES!! almost missed the turnoff, see yinz on the 24th.   -Rich


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