Words/Photos John McCartney & Michael "Mashie" Mihalko
There is a great deal of history that can be found in and around Island Dragway located in Great Meadow, New Jersey. So much history that has been recorded and seen over their 60 years of being a drag strip, a very fine feat in these crazy days. Melissa Milano and her staff at Island Dragway decided to throw a big old school party in the form of Ol’Daze Drags and Funny Car Throw-Down.
Originally a three-day celebration was to take place in August but Mother Nature had other plans. Island Dragway opened in1960 and the first track manager was Al Brown. His son, Tom was present to hold the chapel service and display his father’s 1965 Corvair Funny Car in the pits. Terry Cook was a flag starter at the track and later became a well-known editor for a variety of auto publications. Island Dragway’s most notable contribution to drag racing is the first official 200 mph pass by Don Garlits on August 2nd 1964.
The Ol’ Daze Drags at Island Dragway were reminiscent of the 1960’s. The pits were jammed with a variety of race cars and the spectators lined the fences and filled the grandstands. The racing program featured ten Funny Cars including three nitro powered “floppers.” As in the past the fans were always in the stands when the two rounds of Funny Cars made their passes down the “asphalt aisle.” Four nostalgia eliminators were contested for all the race vehicles that occupied the staging lanes
The event also featured a giant classic car show which was filled with all sorts of cool hot rods, customs, muscle cars and vintage race cars. While on the track a good ole time Funny Car show was on hand. There were Funny Cars from all over the East Coast that came out to do battle. The nitro Funny Cars of Keith Davidson, Bill Dee and Chuck Exton all filled the air with that sweet smell of nitro. While in the blown alky Funny Car class the final came down to the Funny Cars of George Reidnauer and Krista Massarella. When the smoke cleared, it was the Excalibur Corvette Funny Car of Reidnauer getting the win over the Temporary Insanity Monza of Massarella.
There were special burnout awards sponsored by M&H Tires and DJ Safety up for grabs in each round. Round one winner was the Time Bomb Vega driven by Bob Toth and in round two, the Fireball Monza wheeled by Jon Wall. S&W Race Cars sponsored the Low ET and Top Speed awards and both of these went to the Super Camaro driven by Joe Morrison. The Douglas Rocky Roxlau Determination Award was presented to the entire Time Bomb Vega crew for coming back after a very crazy first round. The Time Bomb Vega showed the very same determination and hard work that Douglas Rocky Roxlau also showed and did in all he did.
The North East Timing Organization (NETO) was on hand with a great selection of cars doing battle in two classes. Over in the Comp. class Mike Grafas picked up the win over Vinny Laurita. The Nostalgia winner came in the form of Jerry Hillier who got the victory over Steve Pirritano.
With all the crazy happenings that are around in 2020, Melissa and her entire staff pulled the event off while staying in line with all Covid-19 restrictions. Everyone at Island Dragway made sure that everyone adhered to social distancing and the wearing of masks during the running of the Ol’ Daze drags and Funny Car Throw-Down. With 60 years in the books, here’s to another 60 filled with even more great drag racing history.