As David Grohl once said, “I got a confession to make”. As do I. When Dover Dragstrip was active, I never made it there. As a matter of fact, I’d never been to Lebanon Valley Dragstrip either, that is, until this past weekend. I guess I could use that 6 degrees of separation thing, then you could say I was at Dover.
My late cousin, Joe Ricevuto, who lived in New Rochelle, New York, at the time did race his ‘66 427 Vette there (with engine work by Scarsdale resident Bobby Lagana). In fact he flat towed it there and to the New York Nationals as well. So, I’ve been to Dover vicariously through him.
Good crowd and postcard weather on both days
So I was a bit surprised last December when I got a message from the event’s organizer, Dino Lawrence, asking me to cover the event for him. Seems he reads Nostalgia Drag World and really likes my “tell it like it is” writing style. I agreed and credentials were sent. Lebanon Dragway is nestled in the northern part of upstate New York, a little south of the state capitol in Albany. A pleasant ride on a perfectly sunny Saturday and we made it there in about 3 ½ hours.
Dover Dragstrip opened in 1961 and was owned and operated by Chet Anderson and his partner Joe Archiere. It hosted such notables as Don Garlits, "TV” Tommy Ivo, Shirley Muldowney and just about every touring funny car driver from back-in-the-day. Unfortunately, the track closed in 1976 but as I found out that weekend to this day the local racers are fiercely loyal to the track as well as to the other tracks in the area.
Event organizer and promoter Dino Lawrence put on one heck of a show
Dino Lawrence was the track’s announcer from 1967 to 1972. His love for the track shows as this is the eighth installment. Early events were held at a cruise night at Marcus Dairy in Danbury, Connecticut, but there was no real racing. My cousin Joe attended those too. Dino really knows how to put on a show. He has attended other reunions and added and subtracted from them to shape his own very successful event.
I think it’s impossible to cover and see everything. There are seven Dover Eliminators on Sunday, a Funny Car Shootout, a rather large car show, a race car display called “Drag Alley”, a fuel altered and continuous racing from NETO, NENDRA, East Coast Gassers, and the (what I heard) close to 600 cars (combined 2 days) that showed up for the weekend to race. There was also a mini swap meet on Sunday and rock band Saturday night.
This nostalgia altered had it all including the name