One of the last autographs that I got on one of the signs was, Art Chrisman’s. I was walking through the pits and he was at his trailer. I asked if he would autograph the sign for me. He looked at the sign, glanced over the names that were already on it laughed and said, “Im nobody, I’m just the guy that drives the car.” I said somehow I find that hard to believe but I would like your autograph anyway. Of course he signed and that was my only, brief encounter with the late Mr. Chrisman. Chuck Etchells was a staple on the east coast funny car scene. Aracer from back in the match race days campaigning his Future Force cars. He raced with and against the best the east coast and the nation had to offer, Bruce Larson, Al Hoffma, Phil Castronova, Jungle Jim and the list can go on and on. If memory serves Chuck got his license in a former Jungle Jim car. I got an autograph from Chuck on a photo that I took of him at Indy and as far as I remember that was the only time I talked to him yet I felt a connection because he was from my home state of Connecticut.
Dale Hall was a guy that I saw race his Nutmegger top alcohol dragster many times at Connecticut Dragway. Dale was an innovator with a desire to work with unusual combinations. His dragsters ran small block Chevys and scored many national and divisional titles but like many other racers was “Moneyed out of the game” and quit racing when costs got too high. Dale, another native of Connecticut is a legend of NHRA Division1 racing.
Carl Haas is well known for his association with yet another guy from Connecticut, Paul Newman. The Newman Haas Indy car team has fielded cars for legends, Mario Andretti and Nigel Mansell. Carl was the importer of Lola cars and parts to North America. Bill Heinz was a car customizer from back in the golden age of customs. Bill is best known for his talent of slinging lead. One of his prize creations “The Bat” carried Bill to custom car shows up until his passing. Jack Muldowney launched the career of his brash then wife Shirley. With Jack turning the wrenches and Shirley behind the wheel the duo won 150 races during their 22 years of racing together. The rest is history!
As time goes on we will continue to lose our friends and hero’s. I guess all I can say is make it a point to say hi, take a photo or get an autograph so you can preserve the memories forever.
That’s about all I have for this month. Don has agreed to let me pull some photos out of the archives so, enjoy the photos and I’ll see you next month with a more upbeat story!