Caught On Tape

t’s true what they say; video cameras are everywhere these days. I’ll admit that one of my guilty pleasures is watching True TV. If your cable or satellite provider doesn’t offer it, you’re missing out on one of the most exciting channels available. In a nutshell True TV (where the official slogan is: Not reality, actuality) runs a nearly non-stop parade of clip shows like America’s Wildest Police Pursuits, Moment of Impact and of course Cops. I admit that I’m no fan of watching other people’s misfortunes on display and I take no pleasure in seeing a high speed car crash. But as they say, you can’t look away.

And so it goes that I find myself engrossed watching spectacles like a C4 Corvette ramming the back of a semi on the Arizona highway, its driver flying away from the wreckage – still strapped to the seat. Then he gets up…and runs off into the desert. Sure, some of these video clips likely have a less cheery outcome but True TV glosses over the tragic details and doesn’t show anything blatantly gory – which I appreciate.

It all makes me wish video cameras were as common back in the Sixties as they are today. But as I snoop around on YouTube (another of my favorite time wasters) I’m amazed at how much vintage film stock is running that portrays drag racing and muscle car advertisements from the golden age. The more I look the more obscure and amazing stuff I see. Enter the phrase “AHRA Spring Nationals” and you’ll see several awesome action clips depicting many of the greatest Mopar drag cars of all time.

Another excellent way to scratch the vintage drag action itch is to get in touch with Jim Amos’s Bee On Video. Amos offers over 50 videos (in VHS or DVD format) that cover virtually all aspects of drag racing from the Fifties right up to the modern day nostalgia shows that have become so popular.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of the early days of the funny car so I ordered a bunch of Bee On’s DVD’s featuring match race action from the Sixties. My favorite is called Run What Ya Brung: Cecil County 1965-1968 (video number 149A). In this 99-minute full color treasure, you’ll see hundreds of classic altered wheelbase Hemi, Cammer and Rat match race pairings as well as many candid moments as the cameras follows racers in the pits.

The most astonishing thing is watching the demise of Bobby Harrop’s Flying Carpet altered wheelbase ’65 Dodge – from no less than two camera angles! As you know, Harrop was one of the few factory-blessed A/FX racers to get an altered wheelbase car from Chrysler in 1965. He campaigned the car with good success, but when the Mercury flip-top funny cars hit the scene in 1966, Harrop (like most other Mopar AWB racers) made desperate (and ultimately futile) modifications to keep up with the featherweight Mercurys. In this video, you see the revamped ’65 car wearing a gold and white two-tone paint scheme (applied by the Alexander bros.), plus a bunch of engine setback.

The big shock comes during a run against Ed Schartman’s bright yellow flip-top Comet. Both cars launch clean and straight, but Harrop’s Dodge makes a sudden left hand surge into – and over the guardrail at the 200-foot mark. The action is graphic. The Hemi-powered Dodge leaps up in the air, twirls around and then lands upside down against the steel guardrail. Unlike some of the more tragic fuel funny car accidents of the day, Harrop walks away from the horrific smashup with only bruises, and the cameras caught it all.