Monday, February 15, 2016

One Last Race

One of Bud's friends called him last May. He was going to write an article for the Corning High School Alumni News and wanted to check his memories with Bud's as well as to ask if it was okay with him to use his name in the article.

The title of Bob's Alumni News piece was Lakeside Dragway. He started out talking about high school graduation and how some of the kids would be leaving Corning, others getting married, some finding jobs locally just waiting until Uncle Sam sent them notice that their number was up.

From the article: "This is 1963, what is there to do for entertainment? You are too young to go to a bar. You can stay home and watch TV with mom and dad on the black and white TV with three channels. You can go on a date, if you have a girlfriend, or hang out and ride around with your friends. Another option is you can drag race!
Now comes the problem. Where, in hilly southwest Iowa do you find a flat piece of paved road with racing specifications? It needs to be fairly close to town but not too close to a farmhouse. What you are doing is illegal and the adults in close proximity may not view this as harmless fun and call the police. The first place we found was a couple miles north of town on Highway 148."

Highway 148 is a state highway. As Bob pointed out in his article the problem was too much traffic. They needed to find a better place. The following spring they found a spot on the newly paved Corning-Carl road. It was a county farm-to-market road, less traveled.

"There is a flat piece of road just below the dam at Lake Binder. Our first problem was to measure the 1320 feet for an official drag strip length. As luck would have it my very good friend and fellow '63 classmate, Bud Schaffer, was working that summer for the Adams County Survey Crew. He 'borrowed' a 100-foot surveyor's tape and we proceeded to mark off a quarter mile. I was working at Harrison's DX Gas Station and had access to cement paint.

Late on a warm spring night Bud and I marked out the quarter mile. We painted the start and finish lines on the pavement. We figured that if we did it late at night it would be unlikely that anyone would drive through the wet paint. We went out the next night and sure enough, there was our masterpiece. Then we broke in the new strip by burning tires at the starting line. For years after that you could tell the starting line by the multitude of black tire marks on the highway. We had created a nearly perfect drag strip. It was close to town, very little traffic, and an accurately marked quarter mile. We had successfully created, Lakeside Dragway!"

He went on to tell about a 1965 round robin race among a half dozen Fords. After eliminations it came down to his '61 Ford against Bud's '56 Ford.

(Bob's '61 Ford similar to this.)
"I got a good view of his taillights that night. Why is it that I will always remember that defeat?"

(Bud's '56 Ford looked like this.)

Bud and Bob shared many good times together. Their road trips were legendary. I remember Bud telling about the time they took off for Indianapolis for the Summer National Drag Races. They were driving along when on the radio they heard that Janis Joplin was going to be appearing at the Texas International Pop Festival. They made a sharp right turn. Twelve hours later they were in Texas.

Bob ended up going to college in Nebraska and then becoming a school teacher in the central part of that state. His parents and brother still lived in Corning, so Bud would see him occasionally. I witnessed their friendship first hand at their 25th class reunion. There was a lot of story-telling and laughter.

Last Wednesday Bob's sister-in-law called to tell Bud that Bob was in the hospital at Lincoln. She told him that Bob wanted to talk to him. Would Bud call him? He did, but Bob wasn't able to talk too much. He just wanted to ask a favor of Bud and tell him that he was terminally ill. He was going to go home to die. We figured he had a few weeks left to live. But yesterday morning Bud got a call that he had passed away in the night.

Oh, that favor Bob asked of Bud? "Will you scatter my ashes at Lakeside Dragway?"

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