It’s A Sport Baby! The Amazing Story Of Drag Racing At ATCO, And The Way It Shaped Northeast Drag Racing In The 1960’s.

It’s A Sport Baby! The Amazing Story Of Drag Racing At ATCO, And The Way It Shaped Northeast Drag Racing In The 1960’s.

(Words by Joe Grippo) Are ready for the best 25 minutes of your week? I present to you, “It’s a Sport, Baby”, a local Philadelphia CBS TV produced short film/documentary from the mid 1960’s, hosted by Tom Brookshier. Known in the Philly area as “Brooky”, Tom played defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 50’s and early 60’s, then became an NFL play-by-play sportscaster and then later a radio host on a sports talk station, all in Philadelphia market. This alone delighted me as a native of the City of Brotherly Love. This old video tugs at my heart strings and has many connections to personal BangShifting history, I’ll explain.

The opening sequence with the hot rods was filmed on Front Street in south Philadelphia, one of the city’s big street racing spots, kind of corny but the machines are killer. We would spend many nights parked on the side of Front St. watching the action and saw some wild stuff going down. I never partook myself, just spectated. The real action was filmed on location at Atco Dragway, New Jersey. Atco is still going strong, in fact that was the last outing for Grippo Racing this year. It was also the very first track your writer attended, in a baby stroller while my father Joe. Sr. was racing in J/Stock in the very early 70’s. But back to the video, this deal is chockful of local Philly area legends. The main focus is on the K&G Speed Shop team of Bob Keough and Chris Gans, with the former Mooneyham and Sharp 554 blown fuel altered coupe, then resplendent in the familiar K&G yellow livery. The scenes in the shop working on the injector and footage from inside the Havertown location of K&G Speed are glorious. I frequented the K&G in Broomall, Pa from the mid-80’s right until they finally closed in March of 2022. I sported one of my K&G Speed Shop shirts at PRI a few weeks ago.

Some personal friends are highlighted in this piece also, look for the candy apple red Hine Auto Body roadster with cigar chomping Carroll Hine Sr. at the wheel. Carroll’s shop is still buzzing in Douglasville Pa, his son Jerry does the body work and in the back is Wide Open Technologies, a custom engine and dyno service owned by Carroll Hine, Jr. Carroll, Jr built the stroker Windsor in my Mustang and the FE in my dad’s Fairlane. Carroll, Sr can still be found hanging out around the shop, supervising, and telling amazing stories. Also prominently featured is Jim the Painter and his blown Austin Gasser. Jim is a legendary Philly area pinstriper, letterer and sign painter, and will be celebrating 60 years of slinging the 1-Shot in 2023. Painter has done several helmets for Grippo Racing over the years and even has designed some logos for us. Jim has done work for Jungle Jim, Grumpy Jenkins and countless other drag racers and hot rodders. It was really cool seeing my current friends through a portal in time, looking back at the past.

This video is loaded with bitchin’ nuggets. Look for a young Atco Dragway and future NHRA announcer Bob Frey, killer snapshots in time like the race car names, cool t-shirts, Garlits in the red Wynns Charger and badass period cars like the almost new Shelby and Corvette with the proper amount of taillights. This film may be a touch hokey by today’s standards, but it is such a slice in time, so perfectly immortalized.
So, dig into this YouTube gem and enjoy, I have watched it countless times and love it more with each viewing.

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3 thoughts on “It’s A Sport Baby! The Amazing Story Of Drag Racing At ATCO, And The Way It Shaped Northeast Drag Racing In The 1960’s.

  1. 69rrboy

    Very cool. Interesting how those guys got car# 554 and Ken Montgomery was 555. That was a pretty good run of applicants.

    Always liked Atco but never ran good there with anything that had street tires. As soon as you’d go thru the arch they had the concrete poles so there was NO way to drive around the water box.

    That 1987 Musclecar Nationals they had there was still one of the best events I ever went to. I drove my 69-1/2 RR over 3 hours in a monsoon that lasted ALL day on Friday. That was pretty much the start of all the “factory stock” racing they have today.

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