Help Save Our Legends Stories
The Quarter Mile Foundation is working with noted drag racing television producer John Mullin and the Mullin Production Group, to create a multiple episode documentary about drag racing – its birth, growth and how the supporting performance automotive aftermarket industry built up around it. It will cover the people, the vehicles, the races, the technology and the entrepreneurs that made up drag racing from the post-war 1940s through the dawn of computerization in the late 1980s.
The Quarter Mile Foundation (QMF) recently received an evaluation of a group of over 50 randomly selected interviews by John Mullin of the Mullin Production Group (MPG) of Westlake Village, Calif. Mullin, who has been selected by the Foundation to produce a pilot of the documentary on the history of drag racing and the performance automotive aftermarket reviewed the materials for content and other critical factors needed for a high quality production. He is well known for producing television coverage of major national event drag races from the 1980s into the turn of the century.
The materials, which incorporated a wide range of racers, entrepreneurs, promoters, family members and friends, sanctioning body personnel, public address announcers, crew chiefs and crew members, visionaries, models and fans, left Mullin and his staff very pleased with the quality and the scope of the subjects covered.
In a summary letter to Traci Hrudka, Chairman of the Foundation, Mullin stated, “Clearly, those
interviews represent an immense undertaking, and one that goes a long way toward permanently preserving the oral history of the sport of drag racing, the development of associated business models (of the performance aftermarket), and the very unique set of personalities that drove the sport forward.”
“We got a very clear picture from John and his team about the interviews we have accumulated to this point,” said Hrudka. “The Board of Directors and I got a very clear picture, from a professional outside source, of the breadth, depth and quality of these materials, which provided us with a sense of accomplishment with the raw materials for John and his team to work with.
“We also received a deep look at the production processes which lie ahead to weave the materials in the interviews into a documentary pilot which will both entertain and educate the viewers, and leave them wanting more.”
The MPG team addressed major points, and laid out a strategy, as well as creating a foundation for a general action plan for the overall documentary after the completion of the pilot. Mullin and his team also looked forward, past the completion of the documentary itself, and speculated about how the interviews and other materials could benefit historians and other research in the future.
“I do not think it can be over emphasized that what you, as an organization, undertook was a critical effort to reinforce the historical roots of a sport that has meant so much to so many,” said Mullin. “Your vision has included the full range of participants, which allows those who might be doing research in the future to better understand the complexity of the rise of straight-line racing. The stories that were told, the ‘putting a face’ to the narrative were superb, and the impact of such a treasure of memories will not be fully appreciated for years, perhaps decades, to come.
“At the same time, you employed the wisdom of a researcher, not allowing the ‘big name’ personalities to drive the parade, rather, seeking out a remarkably diverse range of characters, all of whom were important to the fabric of the overall story. By doing that, you created the opportunity to capsulize many different subject areas found within drag racing.”
“John and his team diligently reviewed the footage, and returned to the Board with an excellent evaluation of where we are, and the direction we need to take to complete the documentary phase of this effort. The MPG team confirmed the areas we had some concerns about, and gave us a road map to address them,” said Ms. Hrudka.
“More importantly, we know what needs to be done, and have an expert team in place to execute this next phase.
“We will be continuing to film interviews of the pioneers of the sport and the aftermarket. As the years keep flying by, there will be more pioneers that will rise to the status of ‘Legend.’ For the generations of today and tomorrow, there must always be a time to continue to ‘pass the torch’ of history forward.”
Using the working title of PROJECT 1320, the episodes will cover each decade of drag race history from the late 1940s and 1950s to the end of the 1980s. It will include key figures in drag racing history, aftermarket innovations that made their way into mainstream automotive technology, the influence of corporate sponsorship, major racetracks and their owners, and the birth and growth of the sanctioning bodies that govern drag racing.
More than just a historical archive, the documentary will bring the daring, genius and excitement of drag racing to a new audience, and a new generation of racing fans. It will be composed of both first-person interviews with drag race and performance aftermarket greats and archival footage that brings the sport to life.
Because the Quarter Mile Foundation members are veterans of drag racing and the performance aftermarket industry, they are uniquely positioned to portray an insider’s view of the sport. The documentary crew has access to the big names in drag racing and the industry. The model for the series is based upon the work of the well-known documentary film maker Ken Burns (“Jazz”, “Baseball”, “The National Parks” and other highly regarded films on the Public Broadcast System – PBS).
Interviews have already been filmed with legends including Carroll Shelby, Louie Senter, Joe Amato, Linda Vaughn, Dave McClelland, Jon Lundberg, Bill “Speedy” Smith, and Ed Iskendarian, Alex Xydias, Joe Mondello, Tom “TC” Lemmons, Ray Godman and many others.
To illustrate the stories and lives of the pioneers, PROJECT 1320 has been granted access to the archives of the Peterson Automotive Museum, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (the trade association of performance aftermarket manufacturers), plus numerous individuals and estates. These organizations and individuals hold vast quantities of unreleased, never-before-seen footage in 8 mm, Super 8, 16 mm and 35mm formats, plus still photography. This footage and photos will be digitized for inclusion in the documentary.
The pilot episode of the series will be a feature-length documentary showing the highlights and shining stars of drag race history. The documentary is designed to appeal to both drag racing enthusiasts and newcomers.
Why should we look to the past in order to prepare for the future?
Because there is nowhere else to look…..
Legacy: Anything handed down from one generation to the following generations.
The number of surviving pioneers and legends in both drag racing and the automotive performance aftermarket continue to shrink.
Therein lays a unique – but very limited opportunity. Our sport and industry are very fortunate to still have among us enough of the pioneers who were there at the beginning. These legendary pioneers have the opportunity to provide the sport, the industry and the general public with a very intimate look at how a sport and an industry grew from the energy unleashed by the World War II’s returning veterans – how they and their contemporaries made and molded these dynamic facets of the American automotive market.
This opportunity to capture that intimate look at how we started and how we grew is the mission of the Quarter Mile Foundation, and its PROJECT 1320 multi-episode documentary film series. The Foundation is digitally filming interviews of these pioneers to get their perspective of their careers, the growth of the sport and/or the industry.
It is never easy to ask for support and money. It is something I never had to do before until I started this foundation. I was very accustomed to folks coming to us at Mr. Gasket to ask for support, whether it was race sponsorship, discounts, longer terms on purchase orders, loans, free product, you name it we were there so others could survive, succeed and keep the wheels turning.
And so the tables are turned, I am in unfamiliar territory asking for support, yet I will not be deterred from our mission as Project 1320 is a very long overdue story of over 60 years of hard work, passion, love and the incredible tenacity to get up back on your feet whenever you fell down. The ingenuity to never stop improving, testing when you really didn’t have the right equipment to test with, the never ending ideals, traditions and relationships that have lasted throughout the test of time need to be told.
Quarter Mile Foundation will with your help bring the past to meet the future so those that our new generations that are new to our industry and also for those that will follow will understand what we have accomplished through our trials and tribulations, strengths and perseverance, love and passion.
Please join in and together as a family we will keep alive and share some extraordinary stories of what was so richly built.
Quarter Mile Foundation has many great programs of support that will fit any budget. All we need now is for you to stand up with the others and be a part of what we all feel is a part of our culture that needs to be told now.
Do you remember what it was like back in the day? How did you get to where you are? What did this industry give to you? I have to believe that for some, our pioneers were many of your mentors as I know who mine were.
Do we let them just fade away and not honor their accomplishments? Our pioneers started this painting for us; it is our responsibility to keep the brush in hand.
Quarter Mile Foundation - Click to donate and/or see our 255 names of legends interviewed to date.
Todd Smith - Guys like me are able to make a living in Drag Racing because of the early racers(My Father included) that paved the way for us all. Good Luck on the fund raising!!
Bob McJannett - Hi Traci Hopefully lots of people will realize how important the QMF is. At my age too many of my heros are gone, we have to keep their histories for the future or there will be no future. Thanks for all your efforts.
DON SMITH - Please help.. No matter how small...
Steve Andersen - It would be my hope that you will find the time to interview Hall of Fame Legend Tom Hoover sometime soon.
Don Ewald - I've been involved with the project since day one. I'm on the board of directors. Wish I could contribute more but SS isn't a huge income. I urge others to give what they can to get this project to its next level. We've done a lot already but need to do more, much more while we are still here.
Dave "Burgie" Burgeson - I've been into Hot Rods and Custom Cars as far back as my 69-year old memory wll take me. I started goinng to Lion's Drag Strip in Long Beach CA in about 1962 and have been to and raced at every Drag Strip in the So Cal area including Treminal Island. I worked in the Automotive Aftermartet Industry, and for S.E.M.A. Member companies, since 1967 and I know many many of those names and I have been fotunate to have met many of them and I am glad to support this.
To give you an idea of what it will look like, here is a rough video of what we call "Three Wise Men". Feel free to comment.
All of you that have donated please take a bow and give yourself a huge pat on the back! We are at this stage due to your support and commitment.
Keep it going all the way to the finish line....