Readers of this blog will remember my drag racing friend, Dan Schrokosch, from Operation Corvette Rescue and removing the tank sticker from the one-owner 1967 427-435 Corvette.
Dan has been interested in drag racing since he was 10 years old, when he attended his first race at the Carlsbad Raceway in 1969. By the time he was a teenager, Dan was racing instead of watching. Dan has driven and owned more race cars than you can count. For the past eighteen years Dan has been successfully campaigning a vintage, engine-in-the-front, driver-in-the-rear, classic dragster. Anyone who can strap 1,000 horsepower between their legs and go racing is a hero to me! Dan’s house is filled with trophies, including many “Wallys” (see below).
In an era of “celebrity” racing, including NASCAR, NHRA, IMSA, and Formula 1, Dan is an anomaly. Racing on a modest budget, using his own tools and equipment, financed by loyal, local sponsors, doing virtually all the mechanical work himself, and relying on friends and family to do all the race prep and pit work, Dan’s success is a marvel.
This month Dan has something very special to celebrate – another victory in Nostalgia Eliminator 1 (“NE1”) this time at the 2018 Good Vibrations March Meet in Bakersfield, California, his 4th victory at this venue. Here’s the story:
Last weekend was the 60th March Meet – a West Coast drag racing event that draws a large number of competitors and spectators. Until this past weekend, Dan had won the March Meet event in NE1 three times, including being the defending Champion by virtue of his victory in 2017. In NE1 the driver has a target time of 7.60 seconds, and getting your car to run as close to, but no faster than, that time is essential for victory. Despite a rain-filled weekend Dan was able to qualify in the field of 31 NE1 cars in 3rd place with an impressive 7.623 time. As qualifying moved through the day other drivers did well and Dan ended up qualifying 6th in the field. Because it rained all day Saturday, eliminations couldn’t start until Sunday.
Assisting Dan in the pits, and in prepping, towing, staging and retrieving the car were his long-time pit crew members Marcus Havens, and Dan’s wife, Kim. With their help, on Sunday Dan was victorious over the #22 qualifier in round one. The day grew dark and cold, but by Sunday night Dan was also victorious over the #10 qualifier in Round 2. Unfortunately, Marcus needed to leave Sunday night to return to work, leaving Dan and Kim alone to continue the campaign.
Kim is amazing! She drives the truck, towing the dragster to the staging area, gets Dan settled in his racing suit and strapped into the car, starts the engine, gets Dan aligned at the starting line, watches him blast off, yells like a cheer-leader, jumps in the truck, races down the tract to retrieve Dan and the dragster, and tows him back to the pits. Then she does it again in the next round! Amazing!
The whole family is involved in the racing program. Kim and Dan's son, Bohdi, age four, is already a drag race fan. He has been joining Mom and Dad at the races since birth. He now even has his own Junior Dragster.
The weather on Monday returned to California beautiful and the continuation of eliminations. Dan’s third round was about as perfect as is possible with a reaction time of .004 seconds on the starting tree and a run of 7.602 – you can’t get much closer than that. Now the field was down to four cars and two rounds to go!
Round 4 proved to be Dan’s best run of the meet. By this time Dan was matched against last years’ season-long NE1 champion. With nerves of steel Dan beat his opponent by 2 one-hundredths of a second at the line, and ran a remarkable 7.600 dead on! Damn, that’s good!
Continuing the extremely competitive racing of the weekend, the fifth and final round was another nail-biter. Dan shaved his opponent at the light by one one-thousandth of a second, and his time through the course was three one thousandths of a second faster. Victory is always sweet, but to finish a full weekend of racing with such tight competition and in near-perfect driving is surly as sweet as it comes!
Dan’s reward for this amazing, nearly perfect, performance? In the photo above you can see the trophy. It is called a “Wally” in recognition of the legendary Wally Parks, Founder of the National Hot Rod Association. It is the most coveted trophy in Drag Racing. Cast in Bronze, smiling, standing next to a huge racing slick, the figure of Wally Parks holding a classic helmet – what a perfect image to celebrate a racer like Dan – vintage, old-school, low-tech, filled with grit and determination, and hoping to race dragsters as long as he can hold a steering wheel.
Dan wanted me to be sure to thank his sponsors for their support this season and throughout his career (some of his sponsors have supported him for more than eighteen years).
Congratulations, Dan! You are an inspiration to anyone who ever broke the beams at the starting line and blasted down the track!
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