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“Not-So-Legal Idea, Jungle” by Gradey Bryant

A GREAT story from the wild and wooly early days of funny car racing.

Match Race Maddness, by Grady Bryant

Match Race Maddness, by Grady Bryant

We need to start this chapter by explaining just how some racers are not afraid to try new ideas, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but nevertheless they still try. Their innovations of how to keep cash flow going has lead to the longevity of some well known racers. They will try anything to stay in the game of drag racing. I hesitate to use this racer’s real name for various reasons, so let’s just call him J.J. Now J.J. was a hard racer and went through parts faster than some racers did so he had to try to stay ahead of his game plan, like keeping a good inventory of parts. As he was taking inventory of his parts in the middle of the year he realized that everything he had was worn out or was outdated. It’s hard to be competitive if you don’t have the newest parts. His idea was to sell everything he had; trailer, car, everything, and start out next year with new and fresh pieces.

This was a good idea, but he figured out that the price he could get wouldn’t get everything he wanted, he would be short several thousand dollars. The plan just wouldn’t work, he needed too much equipment. After a few all-night hauls with his rig, he had a lot of time to think on those long race trips, he came up with the prefect idea. He would sell tickets to the people at the races for a drawing of his race car and trailer. By doing this, he would raise more money than the rig would be worth, give the rig to somebody, and start out fresh with a new operation. A prefect idea. Not only would he sell tickets for the rig, he would give away free t-shirts with each purchase, what a perfect idea this was going to be. His sponsor was supplying his with free t-shirts, so it would put more t-shirts our for the sponsor too. The plan was perfect. He sold tickets at every race and at all displays. The ticket sales were good.

About the last of the year he realized that he might not sell enough tickets for enough money to buy everything he needed, and if that did in fact happen he would be worse off than he was now. The fear was starting to set in, but that’s what gets some people really going. He for sure wasn’t going to give away his whole rig without enough money to buy a new one. The real plan started to formulate. Keep all the money that the ticket sales generated and keep the rig too, not very legal, but profitable. He would have enough money to buy a new chassis, body, trailer, and salvage the parts from his old car, but just how was he going to pull this little caper off. Thousands of people had purchased tickets and were eagerly waiting for the drawing which was supposed to be held at a track at the end of the year. It would take some planning, but he decided to go for it. Some racers start out trying to do the right thing, but somewhere along the line greed gets to them and they end up trying for the whole brass ring inside of sharing it. The plan was to be top secret or it would fail, and be embarrassing too. He tried to rationalize it like the people got a free t-shirt for the price of a ticket so they weren’t hurt, it wasn’t like stealing, it was just like not giving them everything they thought they were going to get.

Well, the day of the drawing was getting close and some planning had to go into this or it wouldn’t work. A girlfriend of one of the crew members was chosen to be the person who would do the drawing of the lucky person. She was chosen because of the way she looked, stacked was an understatement, and she was a little short in the brain department too. Anyway, he figures that if she wore short shorts and a halter everyone would be looking at here and not paying too much attention to the drawing. J.J. had worked with the girl on how to not read the name on the ticket, but read the name he had given her before the drawing. Believe it or not, this little trick was practiced several times before the real drawing so that there would be no mistakes.

Now the rig was parked at the tower, after the last pass of the race, where the drawing was going to be held. They had built a special platform just for the occasion. The announcer had been talking about it for two days at the race and the fever pitch was really high. Someone was going to win this car and trailer they thought. When the girl that J.J. picked to draw the lucky number started up the platform the cheers started, you know how drag racers are when they see a pretty girl with shorts on. This was just what J.J. wanted. As she was moving and kind of grinding her hips around she reached into the hopper and drew out a name. The crowd was going crazy. After she did a little dance for a few minutes she stood perfectly still and read out the lucky person’s name. “The winner is Martha McNally.” Now the rules had been stated all along that you didn’t have to be present to win, and sure enough, Martha wasn’t. The crown cheered and J.J. took the ticket from Miss Sex Pot and read the name again. That is when J.J. exchanged the ticket with the one he had been holding all along. He reread the person’s name and handed it to the track owner to check the name and address and phone number. Now of course there wasn’t a Martha McNally in Thibodaux, Louisiana. J.J. had checked and double checked that before the drawing. J.J. said that since Martha wasn’t here he would deliver the rig to her in person, and of course everyone thought that was real nice for him to do.

J.J. took the money and bought a new trailer, chassis, body, and then used parts from his old car to build a pretty good looking new car. He had found a good hiding place for his old rig and no one at the time knew what he had done, except his crew. But something happened the next year that got everyone thinking. A close friend of J.J.’s had a bad wreck and completely destroyed his chassis and was going to out of commission for the rest of the year. J.J. didn’t like to see his friend in that position, not when he could help. That is when J.J. brought his old chassis to his friend’s shop and told him that he could use it to finish out the year. Everyone asked where the chassis came from and J.J. just said not to look a gift horse in the mouth. We all knew then what had happened.

About a year later J.J. confessed to everything and explained how he had switched the names at the drawing to a fabricated name and had taken the rig to a hiding place, which he never did tell where it was, and stripped the car of all of the good parts. No matter what a drag racer does with his personal business he won’t let one of his friends down, and will sometimes jeopardize his own life for the help of a fellow drag racer. J.J. is not with us anymore, but I’m sure he is laughing about this where ever he is.

We all loved you, J.J.

By Grady Bryant, Author of “Match Race Maddness”

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