Images of Drag Boat Racing in the 1960's and 70's

April, 2011 – Mardy Brown of Allen, Texas sent us this photo of U.S. Conquest, adding:

"I believe this is 1976 at the launch ramp in Long Beach. I was sitting in the back of the launch vehicle. In the water in the background, you can see "Smoke On The Water" about to fire it up. In the middle of the picture is Dago in "Down-n-Out" ready to roll and checking out the competition."

"In this case it is Chuck Taylor's U.S. Conquest with a fresh paint job and new driver and Ron Brown's Hemi. The boat had to have major repairs at Sanger when the throttle stuck open the previous year with Dick Shrock at the wheel. The boat went all the way to the end of the water way and famously cart wheeled onto the shore. Somewhere is the pictures of the fisherman running for his life. Dick, who passed away in the 90's, was thrown from the boat and only broke his ankle. Mike Weisberg is the driver here. He and Dick always sat boosted up on a cushion because they always thought if the boat flipped they didn't want to be stuck in the open capsule. This design was 30 years before it's time. To bad they hadn't thought through the safety features fully. It could have saved many drivers."

To which I might add: Surely the design of U.S. Conquest was 30 years ahead of its time . . . but I also remember that when the boat was being built, Ron Tort talked about a fully closed and detachable capsule with parachute for safety. Whatever else folks might have to say about Tort, he was a visionary. It wasn't that they hadn't fully thought through the concept. Lack of funds was the real problem.

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