"Fast Five" with NHRR Honoree, Pat Dakin
National Trail Raceway
June 15-17, 2007
The NHRA's National Hot Rod Reunion heads to Columbus, Ohio at National Trail Raceway on June 15. Pat Dakin, one of the honoree's for this year's reunion, answered our fast five questions and gave us his insight to the event.
Pat Dakin, driver for the legendary Rupp & Dakin team that tore up the drag racing circuit in the early 1970s, can’t wait to reunite with old pals at the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by SoffSeal, June 15-17 at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio. Dakin wants to tell stories about his old partner, Gary Rupp, especially the ones that are not suitable for publication. Rupp & Dakin – named among the Honorees of the Reunion – ran one of the nicest looking dragsters of its day. Dakin drove and Rupp was the car owner. The team began racing in 1970 in a gas car and then made the switch to a front-engine fuel dragster in 1971. They switched to a rear engine Woody Gilmore car in 1972 and bought another one in ’74-’75 and kept that one until ’77 when they quit. Dakin said, “We came back in ’89 and won an IHRA World Championship and then bought a Don Long car and stayed together through the 1993 season.” Then Rupp moved to Florida, effectively ending the team. Dakin found a new partner in Tom Kattelman and continued to race, but he never went further west than Texas. The team was victorious in Canada in ’71 and ’73. Dakin still has the ’89 car and is attempting to put it back together in time for the Reunion. Here are some of his thoughts on the upcoming Reunion:
1. How does it feel to be named an Honoree for the 5th annual NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion? What does the Reunion mean to you?
Dakin: It feels really good. I didn’t think anybody knew we existed. Having never been to a Hot Rod Reunion before, I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends.
2. In your wildest dreams, did you think after you retired, people would honor your racing exploits decades later?
Dakin: It’s not been that long [he was racing in the 1990s] so it never came up.
3. What are some of your fondest and funniest memories about the good old days? Got any particularly funny stories about Gary Rupp?
Dakin: They were all great times of my life. Probably one of the funniest stories is the first national meet we won. It was in Atlanta, back in 1972 or ’73, and we were making a qualifying pass on Saturday and after I made the run, nobody came down to get me. I sat there for about 15 minutes and finally here comes Gary. I asked him where he was he said he ‘had a little problem on the starting line.’ That was all. So we go back to the pits to service the car and some official comes over and asked if this was Gary’s car. I said yes and he told me to load it up and leave now. I said he better talk to Gary and he was not amused. Turns out that Gary got into a fight on the starting line when some stupid official pushed him. We had both been up for a couple of days and you don’t push Gary Rupp as he found out. Anyway it was all resolved and we went racing the next day. Oh yeah, the qualifying run counted. There are a lot more stories I could tell you, but you may not be able to print them
4. Why do people enjoy the Hot Rod Reunions and vintage drag racing?
Dakin: The memories.
5. What are you doing these days to keep busy? Are you still involved in racing? Do you still follow drag racing? What do think of today’s drivers?
Dakin: I still have a business to run Commercial Metal Fabricators that keeps me pretty busy. I watch the races on television. Today’s drivers are paid for something I always paid to do, too. I loved the ride and didn’t like to pay for it…but I did.
The 5th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by SoffSeal, is part of the museum's Hot Rod Heritage Series which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.
Unique among motorsports events, the Reunion honors some of the top names in hot rodding from the past and features a fabulous array of cool drag cars, street rods, classics, customs and muscle cars of the historic and present-day hot rod eras.
Credentials are now available for the Reunion by calling 800/884-6472 or through an application on the Museum's Web site at http://museum.nhra.com.A 3-day credential is $55. Those purchasing their credentials before May 25 receive significant added value, including Saturday's Heacock Classic Insurance Pit Pass Barbecue, a "goodie" bag, a limited edition, collectible Reunion program, a dash plaque and a souvenir credential. A 3-day junior credential is also available for $10 and includes the barbecue. Daily general admission tickets/pit passes will be available at the National Trail Raceway gate, 2650 National Rd. SW, Hebron, Ohio 43025; phone: 740/928-5706; www.nationaltrailraceway.com. Cost per person: Friday, $20; Saturday, $20; Sunday, $15. Children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.
The Reunion features a wide variety of activities and events, including:
* A ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a cruise from the Columbus Airport Marriott to Jeg's High Performance in Delaware, Ohio, Thursday, June 14, starting 4 p.m.
* Hot Heads Eliminator NHRA vintage drag racing, featuring some the sport's most famous and historic cars and drivers, racing in such classes at Top Fuel, Supercharged Gassers, classic Funny Cars and Super Stocks.
* SoffSeal Street rod "show and shine" with thousands of gleaming pre-1972 hot rods, street rods, custom cars, classics and muscle cars. "Memory Lane" will have a display of nostalgic race cars.
* National Hot Rod Reunion Reception, held at the Columbus Airport Marriott, Fri., June 15 from 7 p.m.- 10 p.m. Open to everyone at no charge, it's a tribute to the Reunion's Grand Marshal and Honorees and a chance for fans to meet some of drag racing's heroes. Grand Marshal for the event will be Jeg Coughlin. This year's honorees are John Abbott, Don Cain, Ted Harbit, Fred Hurst, and the team of Gary Rupp and Pat Dakin. The Justice Bros. Reunion Spotlight highlights Frank Hawley.
* Heacock Classic Insurance Pit Pass Barbeque on Saturday afternoon, June 16.
* Cacklefest on Saturday evening, where nitro-burning historic, front-engine top-fuel dragsters and other classic race cars are push started just like in the "old days."
* The Swap meet and Reunion Midway are filled with manufacturer exhibits and demonstrations
Information, including a full activities schedule, entry forms and tickets, is available through the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at http://museum.nhra.com.Requests may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proceeds of the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion directly benefit the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif. The museum houses the very roots of hot rodding. Scores of famous vehicles spanning
American motorsports history are on display, including winning cars representing 50 years of drag racing, dry lakes and salt-flat racers, oval track challengers and exhibits describing their colorful backgrounds.
The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., PST. Current NHRA members are admitted free. Admission for non-members is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors 60 and older, $4 for juniors six through 15, and free for children under the age of five. Auto Club members receive discounts on admission and at the gift shop: show your card and
The Museum is also available for private parties, meetings, corporate events, weddings and special group tours. The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, Calif. 91768. For further information on special exhibits, museum events or directions, call 909/622-2133 or visit http://museum.nhra.com.