Drag Illustrated Issue 171, September / October 2021 - Page 62

Drag Racing Lifer

Lifelong racer Frankie Flanagan and family find fun at the dragstrip By Van Abernethy

There haven ’ t been too many weekends since the late 1950s that Frankie Flanagan hasn ’ t been at the dragstrip . Growing up in Charlotte , North Carolina , his first experience with drag racing came when his next-door neighbor remarked , “ Let ’ s go to Shuffletown ,” referencing their local eighth-mile dragstrip , which wasn ’ t even paved at that time . Flanagan told his mother that he and the neighbor boy were going to Shuffletown , but she just thought it was some place to go and hang out , and had no idea you went there and raced cars .

Flanagan was 16 years old , had never been to a dragstrip in his life and didn ’ t know much more than his mother did about what went on at Shuffletown Dragway , but that first experience wound up impacting his life forever . “ It cost one dollar to get in and race ,” he recalls . “ I didn ’ t really know what to do , but I somehow wound up winning a trophy and $ 35 !”
He gave the prize money to his mother , much to her delight . Flanagan was completely hooked and his mother told him she wanted him to go back to whatever Shuffletown was and do the same thing next week !
It was approximately 63 years ago when Flanagan began drag racing his daily driver , a 1951 Ford that he bought for $ 350 with money earned by folding clothes at a local laundromat for 65 cents an hour . He was still in high school and also dating
his eventual wife , Miriam , who accompanies him to the track to this day . “ I ’ ve been married for 55 years ... to the same woman !” Frankie laughs . Miriam just shakes her head and smiles , as she holds the couple ’ s dog , Ozzy , on her lap .
It was Frankie ’ s second car , a 1957 Ford , that Miriam truly loved to drive . It was blue and white with a 312ci engine . It had ladder bars , a Hurst shifter and an electric fuel pump . When Frankie first saw the car sitting on the lot of Frank
Woods ’ Used Cars , the vehicle was two years old and had very few miles on the odometer . He quickly ponied up the $ 900 asking price , and didn ’ t find out until later that the engine was built by Holman-Moody of Ford NASCAR fame , which was also based in Charlotte . “ The previous owner got caught hauling white liquor in the car before I bought it , and the thing would fly !” His best memory of the car was clocking 102mph at Concord Dragway . “ I won a lot of races with
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