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Rad Dads: Chad and Brian Salute Walt Reynolds and Bob Lohnes


Rad Dads: Chad and Brian Salute Walt Reynolds and Bob Lohnes

There’s a reason that Chad and I will forever be obsessed with straight line competition on the quarter mile…our dads. The good sense that we got came from our moms but the gasoline in our veins came directly from Walt and Bob. Unbeknownst to them, we have compiled some photos of their days in drag racing during the early days.  Both Chad and I have been lucky enough to hit the strip with our dads when we came of age, but we thought it would be kind of neat to show you all out there in reader-land where our drag racing genes came from.

Chad: Whether they want to admit it, Brian and I are the prime example of Nature vs Nurture being crap. We got both, and now look at us. We’re so addicted to this stuff our wives have to stand around naked while waiving a car shirt just to get our attention. Bob and Walt are why we do what we do.

Hey Walt and Bob…thanks for everything, especially the obsession with thumping engines, tire smoke, race gas, and the eternal search for just another tenth of a second!

(The Bob Lohnes File)

Here’s my dad’s first dedicated race car, a 1966 Chevelle packing 283ci of fury. As you can see on the window, this was a 13-second runner back in the mid 1970s. 

After the Chevelle he moved along to a Pontiac LeMans convertible powered by a 441ci Pontiac engine which was named, “Ten Second Dream” –

He then teamed up with a local hot rodder named Ed Fisher and the pair fielded a Monza in the 1978-1979 time frame –

After that car came a 16 year hiatus while he coached soccer, did kid stuff with us, and cruised his 1964 Pontiac GTO. Then came the fateful night I drag raced my bone stock truck. The next morning I sheepishly admitted to him that I did it, he asked for the time slips, and the wheels were set in motion to hit the strip again. The car below started as a mid-12 second car and now, depending which small block is in it,  goes deep 10s or with the larger engine 9.80s off the foot brake.

Thanks for everything dad!

[divider]

(The Walt Reynolds File)

Talk about opposite ends of the world. While Bob was running at New England Dragway out east, my dad Walt was tearing up West Coast tracks like Half Moon Bay, where he set a couple national records, Pomona, Ontario, Sears Point,  and our home track Fremont. Literally growing up at the track at Fremont was incredible, but the changes made there over the years that dad raced are cool to see in pictures. The Camaro below is his venerable 1968 Z28 that he bought brand new and still owns. It’s been down the track a ton of times and is now a Drag Week veteran as well. This car has been around longer than I have and is 100% a member of the family. This photo was taken at Fremont in 1969 I believe.

Remember, Dad’s car is a real Z28, but that didn’t stop them from running a 350 horse 396 combo in it in the early ’70s. It ran in both Stock and Super Stock.

While Dad did drive a few different race cars, including a Toyota Celica in the ’70’s and a 1964 Impala before his Camaro, as well as his 1963 Corvette,  the two cars he made the most laps in were his Camaro, and “my” Camaro. Mine belonged to Jay and Pam Sanders our of Evansville Indiana and was an NHRA National Record Holder, Division Champ, and World Champion car when we bought it in the late ’70’s

Here it is after we got it and painted it. Lanning was my Uncle “Butch”. They raced that car until the ’80s when it became mine. Yes there is air under both front tires on a dry hop at Fremont.

Leadfoot was Dad, Wonder Wrench was Uncle Butch.

Hooker has been sponsoring me longer than anyone on the planet. LOL Thanks to Dad, with no objection from Mom I might add, my stroller and car seats all had “I love my Hooker Headers” decals on them. It’s a good thing we turned out car guys, otherwise this kind of thing could have been tramatic.

Note the NHRA shirt my parents had me in at what appears to be my 2nd or 3rd birthday. I don’t wear car shirts now because their cool. I wear car shirts now because I’ve never NOT worn car shirts thanks to Dad. Hmmmmm, maybe he’s the reason they ARE cool.

And finally the road trip machine. As all of you know, the two things I love most are drag races and road trips. Well, that’s because we did both a lot growing up. This is the only shot I could find of our fabled Roll-a-Long Motorhome that was traded in on a crappy Pace Arrow in the late 1970’s. Not the decals on the back? NHRA, parts, tracks, Disneyland, states, etc. We drove this thing back and forth across the country several times, and looking out the front window going down the road is one of my fondest memories. So is walking across the track to guide dad into the water at Fremont, and then walking up into the tower to get time slips from Steve Evans. Yeah, that Steve Evans. At 6 years old. Our Dad’s are great. Thanks Guys.

 


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4 thoughts on “Rad Dads: Chad and Brian Salute Walt Reynolds and Bob Lohnes

  1. Gary

    My dad had found out my brother had gone to Montgomery Airport in upstate N.Y. to the drags they held there for a while. He came into the kitchen one Sunday and said, come on, let’s get going.” Where? There was a new, purpose built drag strip, Dover Drag strip, in Wingdale, NY he had heard about. We took mom’s ’59 Custom Royal and he let my brother race it. All season long! In ’64, my brother bought a brand new ’64 Dodge max wedge (we didn’t know the hemi’s were coming)! Dad told us both, I’ll help you tune it, I’ll take you to the track, but if I ever catch you street racing, you’ll never drive again! We believed he had that power. My dad could watch a run and tell you what the car turned within .05 of a second, before all the digital, computerized scoreboards and crap. He was amazing. He only drove at the track on Father’s Day, and he was incredible. One Sunday, dad was running mom’s ’67 440 GTX, and my brother ran his then-new ’68 383 Road Runner. I think the Hemi was at Ramchargers getting built at the time. They both entered stock eliminator, of course, and it was like a 18-24 car field. In the end, it came down to dad, my brother, and some guy in a 442. Dad had been letting off the gas every run because he had tall Prowler Eliminator tires on the GTX, and they’d expand and hit the fender wells, so he’d back off every run. I couldn’t wait to see dad run my brother. And it rained out!!! What an awesome dad we had!

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  2. Loren

    Dad had little interest in racing but was willing to back the ’59 Chevy out of the carport at 5 Sunday morning to take me to the Winternationals year after year at my begging. That my most comfortable worlds are on machine shop and factory floors and then the polar opposite of hiking in the wilderness are gifts from Dad who finally passed a few months ago at age 98.

    Today one lovely daughter has sent me a tech story book I’ll be fascinated in while the other one is making me breakfast. Life good.

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  3. Fred

    I had a nice chat with Bob Lohnes at the recent New England Nationals (it’s amazing who you run into while wandering the pits). He seems like a great guy who is very proud of his son.

    While my dad never drag raced, he was very supportive of my racing endeavors locating a car for me to race, helping me rebuild the car’s engine and finding an open trailer to tow the car to New England Dragway.

    The trailer didn’t have brakes when we purchased it so my dad insisted we add surge brakes to it as he heard New Hampshire State Troopers were stopping racers to make sure their trailers had brakes, per New Hampshire law. Sure enough, just as we were about to pulling into New England Dragway, on our very first trip to the track, we got pulled over. Needless to say we didn’t get a ticket.

    I have very fond memories of the time I spent with my dad building and racing that car.

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