Early drag-racing heroes had to work their tails off. Plenty of them built their own engines and cars; sold cars or tuned engines during the week; and ran match races every night they could in between the big events, just to make ends meet. Even getting a contract with one of the Big Three didn’t necessarily score you supporting funds–often, it just meant getting a car or parts. If you were lucky, they provided you with a tow vehicle as well.
“Dyno” Don Nicholson was one of those hard-working racers who made his mark long before 40-foot-enclosed trailers with full-time professional transport drivers and million-dollar sponsorships were the order of the day. Cutting his teeth in the late 1940s on dirt tracks out West and on the dry lake beds at El Mirage and Bonneville, Nicholson’s skill as a drag racer emerged in the 1950s, just as the sport itself was organizing. With his brother Harold, Don piloted a homebrew 1934 Ford–with dual wheels on each side of the rear axle–to a 120 MPH trap speed on a strip that was likely a bit more than a quarter-mile… read more >