This is a wonderful History of how Tony Smrtic ,Gary And Bill’s Dad, got them involved in racing , penned By Bill. Wish we had more great Family Racing Stories like this. (Do a long e-mail -I’ll copy/post)
THE EARLY YEARS…Pre-Storm King Race Cars, by Bill Smrtic
I ( Bill ) started racing in 1963, running my mothers car the last 7 weeks of the season. She was there, so I wasn’t sneaking out to run it.. She had a 1959 Dodge D-500 with a 383, 4bbl, and the old cast iron torqueflite ( 4 dr ). We all drove up in it from Cornwall, N.Y., Mom,Dad, Gary & I. I was 18, Gary was 9, & my Dad was 50 yrs old. Every week I had to run Billy Rudd from White Plains I think. He had a 61 Chrysler 300G, 413 ci, 2-4’s 0n a long ram. If you aren’t familiar with them try googling it. Every week I hole shot him, every week he drove around me. The darn cast iron torqueflites would shift up to 3rd at 3000 rpm even with the 2nd button held in. On the 7th week he didn’t show, & I beat an Oldsmobile for my first trophy. That was in D/SA.
A couple of months later we went to Island Dragway to watch the test & tune for the cars that were going to Pomona. The day after that we started the process to order our max wedge. We had to be interviewed by the factory rep before they would process our order.
Dad had read everything he could find on those cars, and knew more about it than the rep did. That was my first car, 1964 Dodge Ramcharger, 426 ci, 415 hp, torqueflite, 3:91 posi.
We installed 4:56 gears before we raced it, and casler recap cheater slicks. Monstrous 7″ wide rear tires. I lettered it, Johnsons Garage, in big letters down the doors, and “the Angry Ram” art work on the front fenders ( have pictures somewhere ). Johnsons Garage, where we bought it, asked me to take their name off for insurance purposes.
We had a friend that had a 426 S/S Plymouth. He set the valves for us at first. We ran low 13’s. Dad set them, we were in the 12’s.
The first part of 64 there were a lot of cars at Dover in S/S, & S/SA. The class winners of S/S, & S/SA ran for S/S eliminator. Bill Flyn’s Yankee Peddler, Bocanfuso Bros. 64 alum Plymouth, Benny Cardillo’s Spit Fire 63 alum Plymouth, Billy Kolb & Larsen Fords 64 Thunderbolt, the Rickmans & Art Dury 63 Dodge all in S/SA. Oh yeah, and me, talk about a newbie. In S/S there was Dobbs Ferry ‘s Thunderbolt, Walt Ballou’s 63 Plymouth, Chuck Pooles 63 Plymouth, Al Oakes 64 409 Chevy. If that wasn’t enough, there was Lagana with his Z11 Chevy to embarrass all the S/S cars in the time trials. Locomotion was a good name for that thing, it would really haul a–.
I’ll end this ‘Chapter” with a little story about Jay Broderick & the Art Dury car.
Early in the season I drew him on a run. I did my burnout & staged. His stage lights didn’t come on. I looked over & he was about 10 feet or so behind the line as the lights were coming down. He was probably doing 20 mph when he crossed the starting line. Needless to say, he beat me by a bunch. I stopped him up by the time slip stand & said ‘ you never staged’. He said, you gotta be awake sonny. He never tried that again with me, & he never left the line ahead of me either. Including the day after he set the class record down at Cecil County in 65, beat him on a hole shot.
the memory juices just get flowing.
More to come ,Later,
Chapter II…The Smrtic Saga:
This was all before the name “STORM KING” emerged.
Yup, the 59 didn’t have a name, & the first year on the max wedge it was the Angry Ram. It was medium turquois metalic, my mother picked the color. For the 65 season I added the white trim. My dad always worked on heavy equipment, so the high performance valve jobs were new to him. We both worked construction, & there were times when work was slow & we did good just to get to the track, let alone have fresh plugs, or the latest tires. The Storm King name was again, my mothers suggestion. We lived at the base of Storm King Mountain. It sounded kind of tough, and had a little local flavor.. Most of the times we raced we didn’t have the fastest car, so I had to make up for it on the lights. Even after I bought the Arrow, we had to run the new Hemi Cuda’s & Darts heads up with this big honkin mid-size sedan. Never beat Flynn, with any of the cars I had. But I have won when he was there, someone else knocked him off first. The valve jobs. We were fouling a couple of plugs. Dad pulled the heads & touched up the valves & seats. We were now fouling more plugs. So he does it over, gets worse. He had never seen teflon valve seals before. Every time he touched up the valves he took a little more off the teflon. Finally figured it out & put new teflons in, problem solved.
Billy Rudd, is he still around? We let him take a pass in the Dodge. Do you remember his Chrysler? We almost bought one, but hadn’t had the D-500 that long, so had to pass on it. I got drafted in Sept. of 65, don’t think I ever saw him again after I got out in 67. He always seemed like a good guy.
Really appreciate all you have done to pull this site together. It is incredible how many people have been living, virtually around the corner from old friends, & didn’t know they were there. And this has brought them together again, awesome.
Search the site with “Storm KIng” for all the history that followed .
Reading your family history, and Dover connection is awesome. I’d rather read these great posts than watching the “NEW” NHRA. After one Pro/Stock race, I switch the channel.
I’m pretty good recognizing cars, but unless you look close and have about 6.50 seconds, I have no idea of what make car I’m watching. Unless I see a big-lettered MOPAR pasting on the car, I’m lost.
Back in 68′, when we first started going to Dover, with my father (Mom’s 67′ Barracuda), we were partial to any Mopar. We followed the likes of you in the Dodge Super Stock car,
Centalanzo’s 67′ RO Plymouth, the 63′ Plymouth “Northeast Raider”, Tritak & Morgan (when they came to Dover) or later when it was Tritak Performance, and of course an early favorite, Joe Kenney in the 62′ Dodge (G/SA) wagon “Trick Tank”.
Anything (Mopar) Super Stock or Stock we followed. Saw the early stages of Lou and Ray Vignogna, getting it together with the black Plymouth “Earthquake”, in SS/EA, a Max-Wedge car.
Thanks for stirring up great memories…….Paul
do you remember when the black earthquake
was painted green originaly in the station 😮 😮 😮
emember picking the flys out of it the next morning 😆 😆
The Northeast Raider originally belonged to Jed StAngelo, out of Rhode Island. First time I ran into him was up in Lebanon. We had just put on the M&H’s, and it really bogged us down. That was one of 3 times I remember getting beat in 65. One of the otheer times was Joe Black in the Bob Hirsh 63 Dodge. In 68 Jed was running the heads up S/S meets at Conn Dragway. Frank Marrata put on one heck of a show, great $. We made over $4,000 there in 68. Jed actually took out Bill Flyn’s 67 RO hemi coronet heads up. We won that week.
My friend Joe Beltempo bought the car from Jed for the 69 season. He ran steady 12.2’s with it. One weekend when my car was down for ?, I went to Dover with him. As he was pulling out to run for the class, I popped the hood to check the carb linkage. They weren’t opening all the way
We Yanked a carb off, & it looked like it had the wrong gasket on it. I cut it out with my knife & stuck the carb back on. They were giving the last call for the class, so Joe went with it like it was. 11.92, he was pretty happy. We pulled both carbs off before the eliminations started. Seems the gaskets were just on backwards. From that time on he ran steady 11.80’s
ps Joe is in the process of buiding up a max wedge 63, Dodge I believe.
Glad you enjoy the post. To me they are great memories of a very special time. I”d hate to bore you with this stuff.
It was pretty exciting to see the car in a magazine 40 years after the fact. The funny thing is, that year we only ran at Dover the first 2 weeks out with the car. The first week I had the wrong pushbuttons in it, & it wouldn’t go into 3rd.
The following weekend we won the eliminator bracket running 10.20’s. This was our first experience with fuel injection.
The following weekend we went to Lebanon Valley. It had rained the night before. On my first pass, when the front end lifted, all the rain water that was inside the fibre-glass doors poured out in front of the slicks. So I was done for the day. When I got home I drilled LARGE holes in the bottom of the doors so that wouldn’t happen again. Conn. Dragway started having a weekly Heads Up S/S show. It started out as 3400#’s, 2-4’s, stock wheelbase, gas, auto,s or 4 spd’s 430 cu. in. max. We took runner up to Flyn’s 67 Hemi Coronet, turning low 11’s. Still learning about the car. During qualifying, & the early rounds, the hood scoop would bulge the hood up so far I could see between it and the hood. Soi I would only go as fast as needed to beat my oponent. It really looked like I was playing with them, but I was just trying to get thru the day with the hood still on the car. There was no backing off against Flynn tho. When we got there we did not have enouh ballast to make 3400#’s. I wound up running with one of the trailer ramps chained to the roll cage, about 4″ behind my head. We weighed over 3500#’s.
The following week they dropped the weight requirement to 3200#’s. We ran 10.90’s at that weight. Oh yeah, I fixed the hood scoop too. Jon Lundberg was the announcer. To all you young guys, he was known as the “Voice of Drag Racing” back then. He did all the major meets. My mother had come up with uniforms for the whole family, something very few were doing then. We won there the next couple of weekends. Then I put a rod out the side of the block on the Stiles mtr. We were down a couple of weeks trying to find a good motor. Jon Lundberg called to see how we were doing. When I told him we were still looking for a motor, he told me to call Dan Knapp at Ramchargers, that he had a motor waiting for us. Jon had talked Dan into selling another customers engine to us. ( just found this out this year)
By the time we got back to Conn., the Hemi Darts & Cuda’s were showing up. They had a 32 car show one weekend.
Now every week before we ran they P&G’d every car in the show. On this particular weekend, Bill Flynn, Ed miller, Ed Hendricks (Grumpy’s 68 427 single 4 bbl Camaro) , & Bill Smrtic all P&G’d over 430 cubes. It just so happened there were 36 cars there for the show. So us “cheaters” got to run a 4 way match race. Frank Marrata was nothing if not a showman. The other 32 ran their show, we ran ours. I had the only automatic out of the four. They all ran 10.4’s, I ran 10.9’s. I like to think I made them work for their wins. Ed Miller walked by us in the pits & looked in the car and said “that things an automatic?
ps Those were the only 3 cars that beat me when I had the Arrow. ( not counting the run the mtr let go )
If I follow you Right Here…After you Got the Altered Wheelbase ARROW …repainted it Storm King white & Blue (Which will be shown in the transition As a Segment in Our Big Video -from Your footage)…You only ran a couple of times with the Injection stacks through the hood ….Because…you switched over to 2-4bbl. to run the Conn shows. Picking this up from your mention of “This was our first expeariance with fuel injection” ..Did a I “jump” ahead too fast ? If I’m on “time-line” …What happened to the original Arrow injection set-up ?
Bill, I think this is great. I’m enjoying every sentence. That was when the BX10 traction compound burnouts and push starting dragsters were the best part of the show. Until I read Andy Panessas story about how moving the rear axle forward made them a handful at the top end I never realized that. Keep it coming, Please. Jack Karl
Bill (Storm King II)
No bore. Excellent stuff. Dover was very important to many people back in those days.
Not only for the Sunday fun-times, but also many local businesses. Damn near every gas station, repair shop, transmission shop, construction company and car dealership in
Putnam, Westchester, North Bronx, Dutchess and Orange had at one time or another a connection with Dover. Even little Columbia County had a bunch of racers.
😐 Calm down Dino, of course everyone in Connecticut too 😛
BossGuy, you are right on the button. The push-starts were a thing of beauty. Hoping the
engines would fire, just to hear the power coming through the short-tubes.
Unless it was 😎 Bobby Sling-Shot in the flat-head. Was it 3 or 4 times one Sunday when it went up and down the track? Finally fired up, brought it to the line, and then it stalled 🙄
Sorry Bob. You could the air go out of everyone in the bleachers. Still loved the chromed-tubes on that D/Dragster.
Bobby (I know this is on the wrong thread). My fathers friend Danny Bove’ painted Louie’s
Sport Fury (I think) in the West Road Amoco garage. Yes blueish-green, painted it at night, if I remember. They left the lights on to help it dry, but also left the metal-framed windows on the right side of the building open (Was it a HOT August night?). Yes, the mosquito’s
made a raid during the night, like the Japanese Zero Planes at Pearl Harbor 😈
Next day, when the garage was opened, a new paint finish was created, the first one on the East Coast, “BUG-A-FLAKE”. Someone should have registered the name. I wonder who got to pick out the mosquito’s or sand off all the paint. Hopefully not a High VOC paint 😆 😆
Yes, the BX10 was great. We would run the time trials with the plugs we drove it with during the week. Then during the lunch break we’d jack it up & paint on the BX10, put in our one set of race plugs ( freshly cleaned & gapped ). That was usually good for 1 1/2 to 2 tenths over the time trial runs. That was before water burnouts. Sometimes the competition would continue to make changes to thier tune-up, & wind up going slower. My dad was always reading, & studying ways to go faster within our limited budget. It was a pretty good learning curve for both of us. He was always working on the stategy. When I went into Pro/Stock, he told me I was in over my head, & he wasn’t going to go with me. I think he kind of kicked me out of the nest. The learning curve really got steep then.
I forgot all about BX10. I used to mix it with rosen and paint the slicks on Plain Busted. I forgot the mix ratio, but it did work. And yes, that was before water burnouts. I would also lay down some rosen on the track and the car would burn out through it. That was a big part of the early altered wheelbase funny car shows. At many of the match races, the track would get you on the mic and have you say things about the guy you were racing. All part of the show, we were all friends after the run. I even used a rubber chicken sometimes and shook it by the neck and made chicken sounds at the other driver. The crowd loved it. We were a fill it car sometimes at match races if the big name broke. Most of the time they were blown nitro cars and we were injected nitro and could not beat them. So to get the crowd to rember us and talk about the run, we would put weight in the trunk and launch the car on its back bumper. No wheelie bars on the early cars. We had two skid plates weled on the rear frame and would make tons of sparks.
Sorry Bill fr going on and on on your thread, but the BX10 brought this back to my mind, which doesn’t as fast as it used too.
Great to hear from you Andy. You going to make it to Island in October? I’m not sure if we will. It will be a toss up between that and moving into our new place. We may be under the gun again to get set up and start cranking out parts.