1960s drag history, writ proudly

As with fashion, music and much of society as a whole, drag racing experienced a transformative 10 years beginning in 1960, as media coverage, corporate immersion and previously unimagined levels of performance propelled the sport into the public’s consciousness as never before. Countless magazines, and a handful of books, have told this story in a largely piecemeal fashion. Most of them have focused on event results, or personalities. Despite its relatively compact page count, this new title does something very differently. Drag Racing in the 1960s is a narrative that has the era’s blindingly fast technological evolution as the focal point of its narrative, told in 176 softcover pages. That’s not a hugely thick book, but it doesn’t matter, because the author, Doug Boyce, lived this era and has strongly demonstrated skill in compressing the welter of advancement into an easily managed – and indexed – reference work.

The book is divided into chapters by year, and further separated according to the major eliminator categories as they then existed. That ensures that attention is seriously paid here to the lower classes, the sportsmen, which many of these books ignore. The anecdotal and technical detail associated with these stories is what makes this book uniquely special. Bet you didn’t know that Jim Minnick, of later Chi-Town Hustler glory, was one of the first to run the Chrysler late Hemi in a proper dragster, campaigning it in Top Gas. Or how Wiley Cossey, a name from a current Crankshaft car feature, and recapped-slick king Bill Casler helped create Hooker Headers while running a 1966 big-block Biscayne in Junior Stock. Boyce, who’s written definitive biographies of both Grumpy Jenkins and Dyno Don Nicholson, is terrific at this kind of story. Historic photos, many from our pal Steve Reyes, illuminate the text. CarTech publishes it for a very reasonable $36.95.

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