Dave Razgaitis of Westminster is in his second year of drag racing at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia. While most of the cars that race at local tracks are Fords and Chevrolets, Razgaitis' car stands out.
Razgaitis is proud of his car. It is a red 1967 Pontiac GTO, a muscle car of the '60s, a car that is gaining in popularity and value. The muscle cars were an outgrowth of American youth's fascination with drag racing's quarter-mile acceleration competitions.
Part of the excitement came from the muscle car's acceleration, a function of the car's power-to-weight ratio. The more power available to move a given weight car, the faster it is capable of accelerating.
Pontiac is credited with introducing the first muscle car in 1964, the GTO. The GTO was created by John Z. Delorean, who took a 389-cubic-inch engine used in Pontiac's full-sized cars and installed it in the lighter Pontiac Le Mans body shell.
Razgaitis' GTO is about the only tri-powered Class II car at the track. The three-carburetor manifold was a popular option on the GTO. The manifold sits on top of a 1966 389-cubic-inch motor with minor modifications. The rear has a 4:10 gear ratio.
Although Razgaitis' father, Donald, raced at one time, the 21-year-old didn't think too much about racing. About four years ago, the two found the GTO behind a house. The body was rusted, and the car was ready for the salvage yard.
Because Donald Razgaitis enjoyed restoring cars, the two restored the car. The project took more than two years. It isn't any accident that the Razgaitis were attracted to the old GTO. Donald has two Pontiac Firebirds, a 1967 and 1968, and two GTOs, a 1965 and 1967.
Once the car was completed, Razgaitis wanted to take the car to the track and check it out. He has been going ever since.
Razgaitis doesn't race every week. He enjoys driving the car on weekends almost as much as racing it. During the week, he works on the car, experimenting with carburetors and manifolds.
Razgaitis races in Class II with an elapsed time of 12.85 seconds in the quarter-mile. He plans to install a 455-cubic-inch Pontiac engine in the car and expects to lower his time into the 11-second range.
In addition to his father, Razgaitis gets a lot of help from two other Carroll County drivers, Dave Doan and Jeff Davies.
He plans to race weekly next year for points after he works on his reaction time this year.
"I've only red-lighted once, so I don't think I am getting off the line quick enough. My reaction time now is 5.30 seconds out of a perfect 5.0," said Razgaitis. "I am going to change motors, do some chassis work to hook up a little better, then push the tree better for next year."
Still Razgaitis has done well. He finished second in two events for street cars at 75-80, the last one in May.
Drag racing is just right. It provides Razgaitis with a place to try out his engine work. It also is a great place to be with friends and enjoy the thrill of racing down the quarter-mile in his muscle car.
Last weekend, Gary Stuhler of Westminster almost won another late-model event against the STARS drivers but was second in the Conococheague 100 at Hagerstown Speedway. Donnie Moran of Dresden, Ohio, picked up the win. Stuhler was fourth-fastest of 41 cars in time trials.
Rookie Kenny Dillon of Owings Mills captured his first career win in the street stocks at Hagerstown. Westminster's Rick Jones placed seventh in the late-model feature at Winchester Speedway. Brad McClelland of Westminster won the # micro-sprint main event.
In micro-sprint action at Trail-Way Speedway, Steve Owings of Westminster was third, Mike Stull of Westminster was fourth and McClelland was ninth. All three Westminster drivers won their qualifying heats. In the thundercar feature, Gregg Messersmith of Hampstead was third, Corky Stull of Westminster was eighth, followed by Butch Harvey of Westminster and John McDonogh of Finksburg. Mike Walls of Taneytown was seventh in the four-cylinder feature, and Randy Enos of Westminster was 10th in the street stock feature.
At Lincoln Speedway, Jesse Wentz of Manchester was second in the super sprint feature. Randy Zechman of Westminster placed sixth in the semi-late feature, with John Morris of Westminster ninth.
Dave Parrish of Westminster traveled to Challenger Raceway in Jacksonville, Pa., and was fifth in the micro-sprint feature after winning his qualifying heat.
Mason-Dixon Dragway and 75-80 Dragway had a combined meet last weekend. Joe Mayne of Mount Airy and Matt Repp of Keymar split top money in Class I. Jim Peddicord of Westminster went seven rounds, Reuben Standifer of Mount Airy went six rounds, Tim Peters of Westminster and Kenny Queen of Mount Airy went four rounds. In Class II competition, Steve Cavey of Westminster and George Hoff of Westminster went to the semifinals, Jeff Davis of Westminster went five rounds and Corey Hess of Taneytown went five rounds. In motorcycle action, Malcolm Ford and Gene Belt of Westminster and Norman Wagner of Hampstead all went to the semifinals. Josh Wagner of Westminster was runner-up in the Jr. Dragster.
Last Sunday, the action switched to Mason-Dixon Dragway in Hagerstown. Sev Tingle of Mount Airy won Class I, Eric Olsen of Keymar was runner-up in Class II and Ford won the motorcycle class.
Last week it was reported that Jeff Shepard of Finksburg was injured in a sprint car accident at Eldora Speedway in Rossberg, Ohio. Shepard underwent 12 hours of surgery at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, last Saturday to repair multiple factures on the right side of his face. His upper jaw is broken, and he is on a liquid diet. A recovery fund has been established for TTC Shepard, and donations can be sent to Union National Bank in Finksburg, Md. 21048. Cards and letters can be sent to Shepard at 14807 Hanover Pike, Upperco, Md. 21155.