With the closing of drag racing at New Jersey’s one and only Raceway Park in Englishtown, noted track photographer John McCartney sent us over just “some” of his most treasured moments in true black & white at the central Jersey facility, along with his remembrances of the times long gone.
Two icons pass on the E-Town track as Big Daddy Don Garlits goes by the Little Red Wagon of Bill Golden at one of the Mopar Nationals special events during the 1990s.
One week prior to the Grateful Dead coming to Raceway Park to do a famous concert, the first of many 7-11 East West Funny Car events took place. Seen here are team captains for the West Gary Burgin, and for the East Jungle Jim Lieberman who are seen with special quests of the event. Back then 32 nitro Funny Cars, 16 on each team, all run on a Saturday night. Those were the days.
Fun times…… The NHRA Summernationals was always a fun time when good friends got together and had fun taking photos and enjoying the great weather at the Summers. Here we see such a great group of photographers talking f/stops, shutter speeds, lies and what type of film are you using. Yes film. Remember what that was? From left to right, Norman Blake, Richard Brady, John Panuzzo, Les Welch, Dave Kommel and Leslie Lovett. Panuzzo, Welch and Lovett are no longer with us but fun times none the less.
Kurt Johnson…… There were many, many firsts were accomplished at Raceway Park famous quarter-mile drag strip. Of them, the first six-second Pro Stock run by Kurt Johnson is right at the top. Kurt is seen here getting a special award for just that very run.
E-Town 1981…… Track owner, the late Vinnie Napp presents drag racing icon TV Tommy Ivo with a special plaque at one of his last times at Raceway Park back in the early 1980s.
Glidden’s Last win…… The late great Bob Glidden picked up his final NHRA win at the 1995 NHRA Mopar Nationals at Raceway Park.
E-Town 1978…….. First Jet Track dryer. Back in the day, the late Vinnie Napp always thought outside the box. Such was the case when in the fall of ‘78 at one of the Jet Car Nationals it started to rain. When the rain stopped Vinnie talked the owner of the Odyssey jet dragster to have his car picked up by the famous Raceway Park blue tow truck and proceed to tow it up and down the track to get it dry. World famous photographer Dave Milcarek can be seen on the back of the tow truck taking some of his famous photos while the whole thing took place.
E-Town 1976……. My first time on the famous starting line as a photographer came back at the 1976 NHRA Summernationals doing PR work for Hall of Famer Drake Viscome and his Vindicator Funny Car. Thanks to Dave McClelland of NHRA who allowed me to get me started in the sport of drag racing. Here we see the late Don Carlton driving for the Rod Shop Dodge. Noted photographer and Drag Racing Edge contributor, the famous Richard Brady can be seen in the background standing guard with his trusty large format camera.
E-Town 1977…… Warren Johnson drives out and drives back in to Raceway Park. I jump ahead to 1977 and I have now found myself working for Dave Wallace and the famous weekly newspaper Drag News. This turned out to be my first paying gig as the photographer to cover the Summernationals. Here we see Warren Johnson in the very early part of his career with perhaps one of his first cars. Take note of all the tape on the hood and front of the car. Earlier Warren had the bad fortune of running off the E-Town track. As the story was told, Warren found himself outside the track on Pension Road in his Pro Stock Camaro. So he just drove it down Pension Road and back to the pit gate where he was stopped by Uncle Louie [Napp] who ran the gate and asked Warren for his admission ticket. When Warren said I do not have one, Uncle Louie without missing a beat said then that will be $15 please. Sorry, even if you have a Pro Stock car, no ticket, no admission.
E-Town 1982…. Jr. Dragster Rookie Card….. Long before all of the current Mello Yello stars jumped behind the wheel of the current power rides, some of them enjoyed their early time behind the wheel of a Jr. Dragster, which all started with this first ride built by Raceway’s own and father of the Jr. Dragster, Vinnie Napp. It made its first appearance under the Castrol banner here at the U.S. All Pro Funny Car Championships in the early 80’s in the pit area of John Force. David Napp seen sitting in the car is joined by John Force, Austin Coil, Castrol Oil Executives and the crew of the John Force Funny Car.
1981….. Long before her record breaking I Love Rock and Roll hit album, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett spent a number of times coming out to Raceway Park doing photos and even racing with Funny Car World Champion Raymond Beadle. Joan Jett seen here with Craig Arfons Green Monster Datsun Jet Funny car.
And finally… With his back to the camera, always on the lookout for the next great shot is McCartney himself.