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Tue, 06 Mar 2018, 13:31 PM

AA/FD's of Northern California
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2018 Steve Reyes





Off we go on another trip down memory lane, Northern California style. Yes, Northern California did have a glut of top fuel dragsters in the mid to late 1960s to early 1970s. I lived among them and I had a hard time keeping track of who was who blasting down Northern California's dragstrips. I only saw some of these racers a few times and then they would disappear into some vast dark hole, never to be seen again. Most of them had real jobs and only be raced locally on weekends. They couldn't' even make a trip to race in Southern California - that would be a financial hardship. Many of these guys ventured to Bakersfield for the Smoker's top fuel event in March but that was the extent of their touring. The one thing they all had in common was that they loved to race in top fuel which was the end-all in drag racing.

My first sighting of Howard Sweet with his blown Chevy AA/FD was back in 1965. Sweet was the pride of Turlock, California. He would venture to all the major drag strips in NorCal and when his Chevy could not compete with the Hemi-powered AA/FD's, he switched to a big bad 392 Hemi and a stretch job on his AA/FD. Howard raced out of the M&M garage in Turlock and if you found yourself strolling down Lander Street, you would see his car displayed in the garage front window.

Santa Cruz, California, is well-known for its boardwalk and beach. Based out of Santa Cruz in 1965 was the Woody Gilmore chassis, Hemi-powered, AA/FD of Dick Young and Dugan Prentice. The duo debuted their AA/FD in July of 1965. Both of their owners drove; Prentice would qualify the car and Young drove in eliminations. Prior to driving the AA/FD, Young burned up the 1320 with a 1940 Ford in 1961. I only saw this car twice in 1965 and then it disappeared.

Northern Californian, bucks down, top fuel guys would sometimes recycle Southern California top fuel dragsters and NorCal's Jim Lind did just that with the very well-known SoCal based Magic Car AA/FD in 1967. Lind took delivery of his outdated AA/FD in 1967 but he didn't have a lot of funds to race so he pretty much kept his Uptight Out of Sight AA/FD just like it was as the Magic Car. Late in 1968, his AA/FD was made longer and with a few more updates it was able to compete in the NorCal AA/FD wars.

>From way up in NorCal in Marysville, California, Roy and Marilyn Dunn raced the Dynamic Duo, a completely home-built AA/FD. They first raced it with Chevy power and then with a 392 Hemi. Dunn did very well with his self-built and tuned AA/FD, racing in top fuel from 1965-1968.

You could say that the Timmons Brothers top fuel Chevy powered AA/FD was the last of its kind in Northern California. The Chico, California, based car raced off and on running only Chevy power from 1967 to 1970. Either Dog Timmons or Gary Matranga would be behind the wheel as it took off down the various tracks of Northern California.

This AA/FD had a hard time making it to the drag strip. When Timmons was at his Chico-based shop readying the car for its debut on New Year's Day at the big top fuel race at Kingdon drag strip in Lodi, California, he had a big problem. On New Year's Eve 1966 he climbed into his AA/FD and fired the car up in front of the shop. He drove the car down the street, turned the car around on the street and headed back to the shop. As he was cruising towards his shop, he started to brake, only to find out that the brakes had failed. Doug sideswiped his new Chevy push truck and then careened off the truck and drove out of control across the street into a cyclone fence. Needless to say, he did not make the race the following day. That was just one example of Northern California racers always showing off; and in this case, paying the price for it.

If you wish to purchase prints of the photos below or any others, they may be obtained by contacting us at breyes@reyesontour.com. Other photos for purchase may be viewed by following the links at www.reyesontour.com.



The pride of Turlock, California, was top fuel owner/driver Howard Sweet.
Howard may not have had buckets of money to race but he had fun from
1965-1968. He ran both a Chevy and Hemi in his home-built AA/FD.



The Young and Prentice was one of the few Woody Gilmore AA/FD's in NorCal during 1965.
The Santa Cruz duo only raced for a short while in 1965; then vanished from the racing scene.




Recycle, recycle, was Jim Lind's choice when he brought the Magic Car AA/FD from
Southern California to Northern California. Lind renamed his old/new
AA/FD Up Tight and Out of Sight, racing it off and on from 1967 to 1969.




The husband and wife team of Roy & Marilyn Dunn could be found burning up the
1320 at drag strips through-out Northern California. Their self-tuned and built AA/FD
ran very well between 1965-1968. The Dunn's started with a blown Chevy but soon
replaced it with a 392 Hemi.



I believe the Timmons Brothers raced one of the last Chevy powered AA/FD's
in Northern California. Doug Timmons or Gary Matranga each drove the car.
Because of work commitments, the car was not a regular on the NorCal top fuel scene.





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