A big crop of drag acclaim

Right behind me, up on the wall, is a signed piece of artwork from the drag illustrator James Ibusuki that shows a couple of early Midwest A/FX cars, circa about 1965, with steel bodies and blown nitro-burning engines, doing a wheels-up launch at the old U.S. 30 Dragway outside Hobart, Indiana. One of the drivers depicted in the painting autographed it for me when I was covering the Pontiac Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick, so nicknamed because that’s exactly what he is, was on hand running right on seven seconds flat at 200 and change in a nitrous-assisted Pro Modified modeled in fiberglass on a 1964 Pontiac GTO and worth about 1,500 horsepower, at least. The Farmer, as much a Pontiac legend as Jim Wangers and John Z. DeLorean in many people’s books, was running it out the back door, ever pass, the crowd yelling, all while just shy of becoming an octogenarian. Arnie Beswick is a bolted-down legend of full-body drag racing in the Midwest, running everything from pure stockers to a nitro Funny Car, nearly all of them Pontiacs, while also tilling the soil of Illinois full time. Arnie stopped driving a while back, but he’s still a certified hero, getting his due for years of making race fans very happy. A new appreciation of his quarter-mile legend as he turns 90 is part of it.

Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick is the work of Dean Tait, a lifelong Pontiac head, videographer and historian from the Quad Cities, where the Farmer did a lot of plowing in every sense. It’s solidly a work of affection much more than a technical history or recounting of drag statistics. The book runs to 186 softcover pages and is richly illustrated, not just from the Beswick family archives but also from big-time straight-line shooters like my pals Steve Reyes and Ted Pappacena. Another contributor is Poncho Perfection editor Don Keefe. Both Ibusuki and another terrific motorsport artist, Joel Naprstek, contribute their work. CarTech sells this very pleasant retrospective for $36.95.

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