Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lost Drag Strips - Ghosts of Quarter Miles Past by Tommy Lee Byrd

Published by CarTech

An excellent and colorful trip down memory lane. Almost everyone in North America will have, at some point, heard, seen or driven a Hot Rod, Dragster, Formula 1, Sprint or any variation of racing vehicles. For me, I remember hearing the races on the mud flats, but only saw the vehicles on the road when they weren't racing. Afficionados will enjoy the well-written histories of the tracks and racers. Readers who don't know a stock-car from a sprint-car will become well-versed on the many different styles and how they evolved.

There was a lot of research and interviews involved in writing this book, I congratulate Tommy Lee Byrd on a very informative book written with such feeling. The photographs, from actual collections by the people who lived, crewed, and drove at the speedways are fabulous. The storyline is historic, factual, nostalgic and intriguing. Hard to put down, unusual in this type of book. A tribute to the author and the innovative drivers and their crews. This is not just about the drag strips or what happened to them. It's also about how the vehicles from streetracers and hot rods to the dynamic race cars of today have brought about changes and inspired the automotive industry for all makes and models of cars on the roads now.

As a teen in the 1950s, I grew up in the heyday of the growth of the sport in Canada. I found in reading this book that I wish I had seen more. I was fascinated by the speed at which changes were made in the industry and on the track to get more out of the vehicles. The growth in length of the old dragsters to the elongated parachuted dragsters of today is all documented. The death knell came for the old original community tracks and even many of the later safer tracks as the value of property increased, and in some cases population grew up around the tracks and then complaints of noise, smell and traffic "bothered" the very people who moved in next to tracks. I was actually surprised to learn that most tracks were on leased land.

I highly recommend this book to all racing car enthusiasts, those who remember the early days and those who like to learn a little bit of exciting North American vehicle and racing history. Those were the days! But not the last.

For more about Tommy Lee Byrd's photos

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