Fourth Annual Shirl Greer Memorial Birthday Bash, Charlotte's Speed
Street, National Speedway Directory
On May 18 this year (2013) I was proud to be invited and happy to
attend the Fourth Annual Shirl Greer Memorial Birthday Bash in
Kingsport, TN. This was the first one of these I have attended and I
had a blast along with every other person who was there. The weather
was crap, but everyone had a good time despite the bad weather! Van
Greer and Brian Greer, Shirl's sons. are the guys who put this on.
They have a beautiful cake made with the photo of the original
championship funny car on one half…with white cake underneath and the
last funny car Shirl raced on the other half…with chocolate under it.
EVERYONE got their favorite flavor! NEAT cake!
This event is held each year at the Bloomingdale Pike garage in
Kingsport, TN where Shirl worked for many years and also where he
lived…upstairs over the shop. Brian cooked up burgers and fries for
anyone who came hungry, there were several guitars and people to 'pick
and grin.' The BIG deal, as always, is when they crank that funny car!
Normally, they sell dollar raffle tickets to help cover the cost of
the party and the person who wins the raffle gets to sit in the funny
car while they crank it and let it run a few minutes. They didn't do
that this year because of the weather and the car more or less has to
be outside when it is cranked.
They did have a tarp over the car but there wasn't a single person
there who didn't mind standing out in the drizzle to be able to see
and hear this. While they were priming the car and getting it ready to
crank and Brian was making his speech, he mentioned the fact Shirl
didn't ALWAYS race funny cars. He turned and looked at Dee, Van's mom
and Shirl's partner in racing crime for many, many years and asked her
what Shirl's first 'funny' car was and she popped right out with it….a
1962 Dodge with a 413 Hemi .040" over! His first ever race car was a
'32 Ford 5-window coupe with an Olds engine!
The little lady got a huge round of applause and quite a few cheers
herself. (Dee said the fastest time she ever ran was at A&H (Asheville
Henderson) Dragstrip in western N.C. when she was seven months
pregnant with Van. She said, "It isn't any wonder he loves drag
racing!") This party is a ceremony everyone has come to love and look
forward to over the past four years…someone makes a speech…this year
it was Brian. Then the car gets fired up…what a sound! A sound I
personally have not heard since the last national event I attended in
2003! It WAS beautiful! After letting it run and warm up, they gave it
several 'wa-pows' (one of my daughters can do that and it sounds just
like whatever she's imitating!) to cheers and tears!
Cheers to the man who won the first EVER Funny Car Championship in the
world. A lot of champions have come and gone since then, but no one
will ever be the FIRST again! Cheers to the years of hard work and the
love Shirl had of racing. Tears for the loss of an icon, the man who
worked so hard for so long to make all that happen. The weekend Shirl
won the first ever funny car world championship was a hard one for
this bunch. Shirl had a bad wreck and fire on Saturday. He was taken
to the hospital with severe burns on his hands, neck and face…even his
hair was singed around his helmet.
When they pulled off his racing gloves, the skin from his hands came
off with them! The crew and friends took the car to a shop in Modesto
and worked on it all night…Shirl told them if they got it fixed, he
WOULD be there to drive it. And he was. A doctor even went to the
track with him when he left the hospital that day! He could not even
get the racing gloves on. He and Don Prudhome were the two drivers in
contention for the championship. Don just happened to have some
'gardening' gloves in his trailer and he gave them to Shirl to wear!
Shirl HAD to make a trial run to make sure the car was track ready and
he did…finishing up that run in a ball of fire! But he was bound and
determined to run that race.
While they were in the pits thrashing on the car, Prudhome and Dale
Pulde had to run each other and when they heard them announce Pulde
had won that round, there was jubilation and celebration in the
'Tension' pits! Shirl became the world champion at that moment and,
thankfully, he did NOT have to make that run! He truly should NOT have
been driving anyway! That was a championship which was as hard fought
for and as hard won as any championship ever has been…maybe more!
Back inside and getting dried out…music was made…you would have
thought George Jones was with us! Brian made up a song dedicated to
Shirl with Van and Dee on either side of him and other friends did
some of that old timey pickin' and grinnin' and even a few got up and
did a bit of dancing! Brian even got me up and made ME dance!!! I
haven't done that since I got hurt and dancing was ALWAYS one of my
favorite things to do! All in all, everyone had a blast…and let me
tell you this…that Van Greer makes the absolute BEST iced tea I have
EVER had in my life! (And, no, it was not scotched!) The food was
good, the company was great and the memories are wonderful!
The guys had worked hard to get lots of Shirl's memorabilia put on
display for everyone to see…photos, newspaper clippings along with
clippings from National Dragster and Drag Review, car parts…body
panels, pistons, cranks and other pieces too numerous to mention.
Again…I saw SO many people I have not seen since early 2003 and I
enjoyed it immensely for many reasons…this was one of them. Memories
abound when you get groups of racers together for they are all so
diverse and come from so many walks of life. These are just some of
the reasons I did what I did for so many years.
Thanks again, folks…for inviting me to this annual event. I hope you
continue to have this party in Shirl's honor for many years to come
and I hope to attend every one (got to go back for that tea not to
mention listening to that funny car run…there's nothing like it!).
Charlotte's Speed Street
I wonder how many of you remember just exactly WHO started Charlotte's
Speed Street? It is now a kick off for the Memorial Day weekend races
at Charlotte Motor Speedway but that isn't what it started out to be!
Way back when…when Shuffletown Dragway was still in operation…the
Shuffletown racing family got together to try to educate the public
about drag racing. Eddie Knox was the Mayor of Charlotte and we got
him to declare one day a year as race day! We started out having drag
cars on the streets in Charlotte on a Friday so we could talk to the
public and hopefully get more people interested in drag racing.
Charles Carpenter nearly got put in jail for doing a burnout right
smack in the middle of downtown Charlotte! Talk about windows
rattling! Everyone involved had such a good time during Charlotte's
Official Race Day and we DID educate a lot of folks. Oh…by the way,
the round track racers were invited to bring their cars and put them
on display as well, but they declined. Now they take the credit for
Speed Street but had it not been for everyone involved with
Shuffletown Dragway, it may never have happened!
They took what we had already started and made it bigger…it is now one
of the biggest events during race week in May and one of the biggest
events Charlotte has in town every year! I just wanted to clear the
air about that one. Give thanks to the drag racers for one of the
LARGEST racing events in downtown Charlotte every year!
National Speedway Directory
I was surprised when the new issue of the National Speedway Directory
showed up in my mailbox recently! I used to receive one every year
from the publisher and in return, I gave them quite a bit of coverage
in Quick Times Racing News and helped them sell their book every year.
This book is a HUGE undertaking…I can't even imagine what these folks
go through to get this book ready for print every year! I published
the Southeastern Drag Strip Directory for several years and a couple
years, published an Eastern Drag Strip Directory (BEFORE I ever even
knew about this national book) and just doing those was an immense
This book covers every big AND little racing facility, not only in
this entire country, they cover Canada as well! It is unreal. If YOU
want any information about ANY track…straight, round AND road courses
as well as ALL sanctioning bodies, museums AND other publications…this
is the book YOU need to get! They also have racing schedules! This is
their 34th edition of this book!!! You can order the book by sending a
check or money order to 909 Seneca Road, Wilmette, IL, 60091. You can
also call 847-853-0294 to order by credit card.
You can order by going to their website www.speedwaysonline.com or
emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to SELL
this book, you can do that, too. Just call and talk to them about to
learn all the particulars about becoming a dealer. Timothy and Margo
Frost are the books publishers; Allan and Nancy Brown are the editors.
I always dealt with Allan and I would thank them all for sending me
the current edition. There is some VERY interesting reading in this
Everything inside its covers is updated EVERY year…no 'old' news in
this one. Even though they make a diligent effort to make sure
everything is as accurate as possible…as they say, "It is a constantly
moving target!" From the time the book is finished and goes to the
printer, something can change…I learned that when I was publishing my
own directories! They are doing everything they possibly can to make
sure all their information is current and correct. Order YOUR National
Speedway Directory TODAY so you will have all the current information
in your hand and you won't have to go to hundreds of websites to find
what you're looking for!