Drag Illustrated Issue 173, December 2021 - Page 66

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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