In the 50’s and 60’s there was a little track in Saugus Ca. (sort of the SE side of Santa Clarita area). After my partner Hank Bender ran his fuel burning ’37 sedan over the little bridge and across the road at the west end while racing Joe Pisano’s ’34 coupe with a Jimmy 6 in it, and wiped out a goodly piece of the farmers onion patch, two things happened; 1: Hank quit driving and I became the driver of the Bender and Hier team and 2: They turned the strip around and ran it west to east so the shut-off area was longer and went up a hill (BTW, all houses now).
The starter at the time was Don Rackman, part owner, racer and fellow member of the Screwdrivers racing club out of Culver City, Ca. Back then, the starter used 2 flags, green for a good start and red for foul and restart. At that time Hank and I were running our Joe Ito built, Fiat Topolino Coupe with the stretched frame and our fuel burning Merc flathead with Hilborn Injectors. Fortunately Jazzy Nelson didn’t run at Saugus a lot and we won most of the meets we ran at the track.
This gets good: When we came up against a real good running car or bike, such as the Berardini Brothers fuel burning ’32 roadster or Agajanian’s Nitro Triumph, Rackman would be standing center track in front of us and in his usual way, would look at both drivers, but just a fraction before he threw the flags he would drop his head and then leap in the air with the flags. When he dropped his head … I left … and usually won. Well I found out years later that he knew that I knew, so he would bet money with whomever he could, that we would win. Well, we had a fast car, and I was quick off the starting line but after many races, I began having trouble beating my opponent off the starting line at Saugus.
About 2004, we had a get-together at the NHRA Museum in Pomona. Rackman and a bunch of fellow old time racers were there and I found out that depending on whom he was betting on, he would wink his eye just before dropping his head … so … I left on the nod and my opponent was “gone in the blink of an eye”. I couldn’t believe it, no matter who won the race, Rackman won some money. The place broke up in laughter and we all had a good time. Reminiscing. It was fun because: That’s the way it was back in the good ole’ days.
See ya’ at the races.