The O”Reilly Auto Parts Apple Series of Annoyance Antagonism is afterwards altercation the granddaddy of them all. In its 56th year, it is by far the longest active above antic accident in the Quad-Cities.
And according to the man who congenital and nourished it, the chase is additionally the oldest connected annoyance antagonism accident in the apple — one year earlier than the National Hot Rod Association Nationals!
Bob Bartel of Moline was there aback it all started. Bartel”s career, the acclaimed Cordova Dragway and the Apple Series are always intertwined with anniversary other.
History additionally shows that Bartel”s vision, followed by that of Bob Gipson and now Scott Gardner, has been active not alone in the continued success of the Apple Series, but additionally in allowance the action to abound and prosper.
Bartel”s absorption in annoyance antagonism started in about 1954-55, he recalled, aback he visited bootleg annoyance strips a Oswego and Peoria. They were little added than trails carved out of blah fields. “One was aloof dirt, the added had a little alluvium befuddled down,” he said.
A accumulation of guys from Moon”s Car Club (most acclaimed for moon deejay hubcaps — behemothic aluminum disks that covered the accomplished wheel) assertive him to body a chase track.
“I went out to Oswego. I saw Wally Smith demography money aloof as fast as bodies could drive in the entrance. It was a $3 fee, but if you gave him bristles dollars you apparently didn”t get change. I said ‘I can do article like that.””
There wasn”t a absolute arrangement to chase in the aboriginal canicule of the sport, so he created his own. Bartel remembers his coursing for a akin allotment of arena for the track. “That came afterwards I begin out how abundant it would amount to abrade a arresting allotment of arena — alike aback then,” he said.
The acreage that Cordova Dragway Park sits on was allotment of a beyond farm, but those acreage were alone bearing about 12-13 bushels of blah an acre, with 100 bushels an acre advised appropriate aback then.
So he, his brother, Dan, Ken Roberts from Moline Engine Service and the backward Keith Cordell, a Moline policeman, anniversary invested $10,000. “A lot of money in 1956,” Bartels said.
Bob abdicate his job at Sears, area he had been affairs heating and accouterments supplies, and took over managing the architecture of the track. Afterwards it was built, he managed it for 30 years.
The clue was congenital on actual albino soil. A Wisconsin close brought in a behemothic Rototiller to cut bottomward 24 inches into the ground. Again 16 carloads of Portland adhesive were formed bottomward into the soil. They watered it as they formed it in, Bartel recalls. Road graders were brought in to akin it and again it set for a week, he said as if it was yesterday. The aboriginal abject from 1956 remains, although years of burnouts accept taken their assessment on the city surface, causing it to be replaced.
The aboriginal stands captivated about 400 assemblage and the aboriginal fence was 2-by-2 inch board stakes in the arena with braid strung amid them. “Nobody agitated it, and if bodies got central the ropes, we would aloof advertise that we were done antagonism until they austere out,” Bartel said.
After that aboriginal year, he started installing chain-link fence.
“Every anniversary we would get racers advancing out from Chicago. One accumulation was The Schlitzers mndash; the name implies (the beer) they liked,” Bartel said. “I advised them all fairly, and in acknowledgment they did aggregate they could anticipate of to abrade me.”
One aphorism was that weapons weren”t accustomed on the grounds. “They would put the being in my base wagon and knew they could aces them up aback the antagonism was done. We saw all kinds of things — swords, guns, alike a apparatus gun. The aboriginal canicule were abundant altered than today,” he said.
Cordova Dragway grew quickly, and the Apple Series of Annoyance Antagonism was a beneficiary.
The aboriginal Apple Series of Annoyance Antagonism was captivated in 1956 in Lawrenceville, Ill., a the Indiana border. It was run by the Automobile Timing Association of America, Bartel recalled. The accumulation bound ran into banking problems due to the abridgement of any full-time staff.
Some old timing accessories and scales were accustomed to Cordova, and the clue took over the Apple Series in 1957, Bartel said.
In the aboriginal canicule of annoyance racing, there was no money involved. Racers ran for commodity and maybe scholarships. The absolute award-winning package, he said, ability be $500 to $1,000.
Cordova was the aboriginal clue to put up acceptable money — $1,000 to win in a cardinal of altered classes, Bartel said proudly. It not alone afflicted the way annoyance contest were run, but additionally how they were promoted. Today, payouts can be $40,000 or $50,000, he said.
“I had a blueprint that I would absorb as abundant money with the media as I had in the purse to assure I had fannies on the planks,” Bartel said.
Later, he assured the success of the Apple Series by advantageous the top drivers a affirmed minimum to accomplish abiding they were there. That had not been done afore either. “That way they knew they would at atomic awning expenses. If they won more, they kept that too,” he said.
Having the top drivers there assured that added drivers would appearance up to claiming them, and assemblage would arise to watch the show.
The Apple Series has prospered because it attracts acceptable crowds, has acceptable awards and puts on a acceptable show, Bartel said. Over the years he was consistently convalescent the chase track, which additionally helped.
“I did a lot of abject with the media and got a lot of chargeless publicity. We would authority columnist parties for hundreds of account media out at The Plantation. I anticipate they admired the martinis,” Bartel chuckled.
“The aboriginal time that Don Garlits came to the Apple Series, he came on his own. Our publicity assertive him it was a acceptable event, so he came up from Florida,” Bartel said. “I can still bethink him active up the aboriginal time with his wife. He had an accessible bivouac with his car, cans and accoutrement all angry down, pulled by an old Dodge base wagon.
“He had been traveling all about the country antagonism but said this was the aboriginal chase he had been to at a clue congenital for annoyance racing,” Bartel recalled. At the time, abundant of the organized antagonism happened on highways which were blocked off for a chase event.
“Any big name you can anticipate of (and he ashamed off a continued account of acclaimed names), accept all been through Cordova,” he said proudly.
Drag antagonism additionally got a big addition aback Detroit got absorbed in the sport, Bartel said. The V8 Chevy and the Rocket 88 Olds were amid the aboriginal assembly engines congenital to go fast.
“Their engineers said that 148 to 150 afar per hour was the ultimate acceleration a car could ability in a division mile. But the kids that were antagonism with us didn”t apperceive how to apprehend a accelerate rule. At the aboriginal Apple Series, the aggregation of Stone, Woods and Cook from California hit 150 afar per hour in a 12 to 13 additional bracket, he said.
Bob Bartel operated the clue until 1985 aback Bob Gipson of Bettendorf bought it. Scott Gardner took over in December 1995 and Bartel gives him aerial marks.
“He”s a accurate businessman, and I”m appreciative of him accepting it. He”s accomplishing a acceptable job, and I achievement he makes a bundle.”
Bartel, now 88, expects to be about antagonism a bit longer. You see, aback in the aboriginal canicule aback he bare electricity or a baptize band put in, he affective a advertise and dug the arroyo by hand. “Some of those curve out there, (Gardner) still doesn”t apperceive area they are.”
If you are a drag-racing or ‘Big Daddy” Don Garlits fan, again accede cheating out of assignment today at 2:30 p.m. Garlits and his Swamp Rat III dragster, and added able drivers, will arise at a columnist appointment for the Apple Series of Annoyance Antagonism at the i wireless Center in Moline.
While the accident is for the media, I”m abiding if you are affable and let them do their job, the association from Cordova won”t bang you out.
A appropriate behind-the-scenes attending at the action of kart antagonism will be aired four times during the advancing anniversary on Mediacom Connections Channel 22.
The Go Kart Show, produced by Michael Joseph Quane and Full Circle Media in Chicago, provides a admirable central attending at the action and the bodies who compete. Abundant of it was filmed at the Rock Island Admirable Prix kart contest which the appearance additionally helps to promote. The admirable prix will be Sept. 5-6 in The District of Rock Island.
Air times on Mediacom Channel 22 are 10 a.m. Monday, 7 p..m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. Wednesday, and 7 p.m. Sept. 4.
This cavalcade is aggregate by Roger Ruthhart and appears anniversary Thursday in The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Please accelerate items of absorption to [email protected] . Antagonism after-effects should be beatific to [email protected] .
* The O’Reilly Auto Parts Apple Series of Annoyance Racing
* Cordova Dragway Park, 19425 Illinois 84, Cordova (15 afar arctic of Interstate 80).
* Friday and Saturday. Antagonism throughout the day both days. Friday – Night of Thrills starring Benny the Human Bomb at 7 p.m.; Saturday – Pro Finale at 7 p.m.
* Attending will be NHRA Funny Car Apple Champion Cruz Pedregon, clue almanac holder Tony Pedregon, army admired and Illinois-based disciplinarian Tim Wilkerson. Additionally Top Fuel drivers T.J. Zizzo, IHRA Apple Champion Bruce Litton and abounding more.
* Ticket prices are: Friday: adults, $20, kids (ages 6-12), $5; Saturday: adults, $25, kids, $5; Sunday: adults, $11, kids, $5. All admissions accommodate chargeless parking and chargeless pit pass. There is additionally a Weekend Super Canyon for adults at $60 and for kids at $5. Tickets are accessible at the aboideau or in beforehand at O’Reilly Auto Parts stores.
Author’s addendum, Aug. 28, 2009: While this adventure accurately letters what Mr. Bartel told me, I accept back arise to catechism one point of accuracy. If the 56th Apple Series of Annoyance Antagonism was captivated in 2009, again if I had done the algebraic I would accept accomplished the aboriginal was in 1953 — not 1956 as reported. I accept that the aboriginal chase at Cordova was 1957, but that the 1956 accident was not the aboriginal Apple Series, but rather the aftermost of four run by the Automobile Timing Assn. of America. — Roger Ruthhart
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