CHRISTMAS TREE start lights .First Used ?

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  • #10375
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    AND THE BIG RELATED Question is :
    ‘Was Dover One of the First to adopt, in like 62-63, with their homebuilt set-up while other tracks still had a Flag man”? David Carl Peters said NHRA used them first at 63 Indy Nationals. Believe Dover was right on top of things…maybe before most …? and you say ?

    #24961
    maso
    Participant
    • Total Posts: 1295

    The first prototype drag strip Christmas Tree device was created here in South Florida by my good friend Harry Steele and his buddie Jerry Tyson. Those guys had a club called the “Cabriolets” and here is a picture of them at their Hialeah club house. They sold the prototype to Chrondak for cheap.

    That is Harry standing by the Pontiac on the left. He ran in B/G with that. And there is Jerry with the Dragmaster. ( Show this to Bobby Schiegel )

    Harry went on to be a sucessfull electrical contractor among other things and Jerry still is a sucessfull man in the field of electronics up in Tampa.

    Those guys set up the South Florida Timing Association and held the early drag racing events here in Miami at the Emelia Earheart landing strip and also at the Master’s field in the mid 1950’s Harry eventually became a high level NHRA official and helped set up the Nationals Events first at Detriot and then at Indy. Harry today is one of the world’s leading authoraties on two seater T-Birds after restoring many of them… the guy is amazing…! I see him and his wife Doris oftain and have known them for 20 years now. I saw him and Doris just last week, but today he is out there on a cruise ship enjoying his retirement.

    Here is a recent picture I took of him and Doris at Harry’s 70th birthday. I took this picture for Tommy Ivo who I had just bought a die-cast model of his twin Buick machine from. Tommy remembered Harry and so I arrainged the picture for Tommy to see. I look terrable in this picture because I was sick and about to go into surgery for something unpleasent.

    #24964
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Found This in searching:
    The christmas tree was invented by W.H. David of Lafayette, LA in the late 1950s and early 1960s. See picture attached of the first tree. This was to help with handicap or bracket racing. The tree allowed both cars to start even at the starting line and then delay one lane over the other. He then sold the rights to the Chrondek company who mass produced the tree. The original had 2 poles both with lights. It’s called a christmas tree due to the fact that the original mock-up used the small glass Christmas tree lights from the 1950’s. I still have that mock-up. He also invented the fuel check system in 1958 and first used it on the national level at the 1959 Detroit Nationals. He invented the engine cylinder size check and the cam size check. He was in drag racing from 1955 until 1971. He opened and ran six sanctioned drag strips in South Louisiana including State Capital Dragway in Baton Rouge. If anyone has any additional pictures of the original christmas tree from the early 1960s please email them to me at rdavid88@cox.net.

    #24966
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Heres a link fior a story By W.H.Davids Son …STILL NEED DOVER INFO …Have to make some calls to early officials I guess.
    http://dragcars.com/html/drag_racing_history_insight.html

    #24968
    maso
    Participant
    • Total Posts: 1295

    Well… there seems to be more than just a little contraversy about that. I didn’t mean to change the subject, and I didn’t mean to open up a “can of worms” either… just to add a little perspective that’s all.

    It seems that there must have been more than one group of people working on the same idea at the same time. I am sure that ol’ Harry wasn’t b.s.’ing me about it. Harry says that he did the electrical while Jerry did the electronics. That makes sence when you consider where their carreers ended up for them. Anyway, Chrondak must have bought up both of them. Another guy I know from New Jersey sweares that the device came from his state and I have heard that it was invented in Southern California too… who knows now.

    Notice that Harry Steele and W.H. David both were NHRA officials at the same time. I will ask Harry about W.H. David when he comes back from his ocianic cruise in two weeks.

    Incedentally… that old tree at Dover, the orange one with the black stripes and the plumbing pipe arm comming up and out of the pavement like it does is a rather interesting looking contrapsion in it’s own right… anybody know the full story behind that one…???

    #24969
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Going to talk to Hosford,Smokey,Hibbert and others . shot here shows Hosford in 1962 and that “Tree” just has Yellow -and Red…Stop & Caution? No Green …Still Started By Flagman.


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    #24970
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Check this out .STILL 1962..It is Trianglier…BACK flat facing Starter And Shows An extra Green bulb…Signal to HIM …’All OK -Clocks reset,signal from tower-go for start …Racers Didn’t See that, OR the Staged lights for each lane.


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    #24971
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Jump to 1963…Starter Still Flagging ….Same “Tree”


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    #24972
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    And Heres our Old Pal, introduced in 1964 and,used right up to the early 70’s. Unhook and wheel into base of tower to store during the week. Not a bad Piece of Home Built inginuity !


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    #24973
    maso
    Participant
    • Total Posts: 1295

    ………………….MASO! ‘there’s One In Every Crowd”…Hey-Guess I answered my Own Question ,by Digging into the Great Dated Photos in the Bill Cullen Collection in our Great-Great ODF Galleries,BUT going to find out the details on construction, and the influence of other Tracks and NHRA ,etc. in generating the Dover TREE of ’64….Just in time for Sox & Martin,The Greek and Garlit’s last appearance at Dover.[Dino-edit]

    #24976
    patina
    Participant
    • Total Posts: 2205

    Nothing to do with lights BUT that 58 chevy behind the lights seems to be the same one in the artist drawing of Flynn and Landy.

    Pat

    #24978
    dino
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts: 11491

    Believe thats Al the Starter’s ….and in the Painting you can see Him behind Flynn’s car -yellow hat.

    #25907
    maso
    Participant
    • Total Posts: 1295

    Go see: http://www.pbase.com/donboyd/image/94462253 … for a little more information from some who were around it here in Miami.

    #25914
    john-sachs-sr
    Participant
    • Total Posts: 430

    I ran quite a bit at Amelia Earhart when I was down here in the late ’50s and early ’60s.Have some 8mm movies as well.No projector though. 😳
    I was living in Palm Beach,and used to race with Ollie Olsen,and Don Gist.Ran Davie Drags,when AH wasn’t racing. 😉
    John
    IIRC,the races were run with a flagman.Stopped from time to time to land a plane.
    Ernie Schorb was the NHRA director,in the southeast,and drove to the races in his NHRA Safety Safari ’54 Ford.

    #25916
    don-kauer
    • Total Posts: 1178

    Man I’m glad you’re older then me 😆 😆 😆 ………….(Hi, John)

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