Drag Illustrated Issue 173, December 2021 - Page 66

DIALED IN
thoroughly inspected for cow mess before the first pair of cars ever went down the track since the cows pretty much had free reign during the week . “ For guardwalls , we had a 1-inch steel cable that ran through wooden posts !” Laird says .
The fact that Ardmore didn ’ t have lights in those days made it especially difficult to hold big races , where hundreds of cars were trying to qualify and race before it got dark . Heaven forbid they had an oildown , because they ’ d be pushing brooms with kitty litter for hours .
At some of the earliest Cowpasture Nationals , it wouldn ’ t be uncommon for 220 cars to show up , which made it quite challenging to finish the event . For a while , the race was changed to invitation-only with a maximum of 150 cars . “ The lights didn ’ t come along until the 1980s ... and they weren ’ t real good then !” Sears laughs .
Fast-forward 50 years and a lot has changed at Ardmore Dragway . Sears and Laird haven ’ t owned the track in decades , but they still live local to the area , and neither man hardly misses a race weekend at Ardmore . Laird is now 81 and Sears – still an active bracket racer – will soon be 76 . Laird often brings out his cool front-engine dragster that he and his son and grandson campaign , and is always a fan favorite .
These veterans both marvel as they tool around the pits on a golf cart and look at how much the cars and equipment have changed since they first launched the Cowpasture Nationals all those years ago .
The facility itself has also underwent massive amounts of updates and improvements , a transformation made possible when Rick and Brenda Carrell purchased the track in 2008 . The couple has performed countless upgrades along with their son , Will , who serves as track manager . The Cowpasture Nationals has grown into a massive event , with 340 entries coming out for the most recent running .
Among those entries , none is more legendary around these parts than a beloved car known as “ Double Ugly ,” an iconic 1956 Pontiac Star Chief that actually went to the finals of the inaugu-ral Cowpasture Nationals in 1972 , with Larry Zunk behind the wheel . The car has traded hands a number of times , and then resurfaced over the years ,
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