By JIM HUNTER
State Sports Writer
“It came off the assembly line just like it is,” said Columbia’s Henry Easterby Wednesday afternoon.
The well- know drag racing mechanic patted the hood of a Ford’s latest top of performance products in 1964 Fairlane Drag Car. Easterby will be drive the car as well as maintain it during the 1964 drag season for owner Bright Stevenson Jr.,
“It came just like is it,” said the 34-year-old-mechanic who stormed on the drag racing circuit in 1959 with a souped-up, high-powered version of an engine on wheels called the Shade-Tree Special.
“It weighs about 3,200 pounds, the minimum for drag cars in the superstar division,” said Henry. “The engine is much the same as other high-performance pieces. There’s a little difference except for a heavy duty clutch and a modification of that sort which adapt a car for drag racing.
“We’ll take it over to Blaney Dragstrip after we get the tires we’ve ordered for it. Our goal is 12 seconds. You have to run that fast to contend anymore. And 12 seconds at Laney is a pretty legitimate elapsed time for a quarter mile strip.
“If we can’t get it. I’ll have to go through the engine to see where I can gain a little more time.
“Distract season is going to be real interesting,” said Easterby, who plans to enter the car for the first time in the Dayton Drags during Speed Weeks next month.
“When cars come off the assembly line like this, it makes racing more interesting. Each of the cars are starting off almost equal. Then it was to the driver and the mechanic to get the most out of it.
“The driver plays the most important role because you can lose tenths of seconds at the start and forget about it. It takes a lot of skill to be able to get off the line and through the timing lights.
“The only thing that hurts is the fuel mixtures some people tend to use. They find out they can get a little more speed with a certain mixture and they can get a jump on you. The rules are for governing fuel are there but they’re pretty hard to check. That’s the only thing that could hurt the competition this season.
“If the fuel rules are checked constantly, then there’s going to be an awful lot of good competition. I don’t believe anyone make of car will run away with the otters this year.
“I think this car will be right in there with them. It’s my job to see that.”
Easterby’s Fairlane will be sponsored by Pulliam Motor Company and will provide a stiff test for the Burnside Plymouths which did so well during 1963.
EXECUTIVE Vice President Pat Purcell informs that 25 race tracks in ten eastern states and California have already signed sanction agreements with NASCAR for 1964.
Included in these or Columbia Speedway and the Fairgrounds Speedway in Spartanburg, in addition to major tracks Charlotte, Darlington, Atlanta, Bristol, Martinsville, and Daytona.
It appears that local speedway promoter F. B, Gooden is getting an early start to ensure a good dates for his pair of Grand National 100-milers this season. And improvements of the half mile dirt track, as well as spectator accommodations, are in the making.
THE RIVERSIDE 500 this Sunday can be heard on WNOK radio, beginning at 2 o’clock Columbia time. A nine-man announcing team, which it certainly would take to cover a road course like Riverside, will be anchored by veteran sportscaster Ralph Lawlor of KPRO in Riverside.
TWO SOUTH Carolinians, Ned Jarrett of Camden and David Pearson of Spartanburg are the official entries in the Daytona 500, scheduled for February 23. Jarrett will drive a 1964 Ford prepared by Bondy Long and Pearson will be at the wheel of a 1964 Dodge set up by Cotton Owens.
RUMORSVILLE Has it that veteran Buck Baker will be driving a Lee Petty Plymouth in ’64, that Rex White has hung up his racing shoes in favor of the restaurant business, that Nelson Stacy will return to the MARC circuit after Daytona, that Joe Weatherly will part with Bud Moore and that Smokey Yunick will have a 1964 Chevrolet entered at Daytona.