The 10th Annual Rocking Chair Nationals Features Racing and Tributes
Drag Racing Action Online and courtesy of Bill Pratt and Mashie Mihalko.
Images: Mashie Mihalko and Phil Hutchison
It was a nostalgia gathering of racers and their loyal fans was held at Mason- Dixon Dragway in Hagerstown, MD June 24. The turnout for the event was better than expected considering the weather forecast. Longtime drag racing executive Hayne Dominick and Gary Gore from Gold Dust Memories did their homework making sure the invited guests and racers were recognized and supported throughout the day’s festivities.
The pits were full of race cars and the show car field had an impressive mix of vehicles. There were numerous classes of racing throughout the day including two groups of nostalgia cars, Pro Stick, MANDRA and the Outlaw Pontiacs.
In an early morning reunion before the day’s racing action began, a formal ceremony unfolded. These were no ordinary accolades. These were Lifetime Achievement Awards, acknowledging the continuous dedication and passion of these individuals who have contributed significantly to drag racing’s lore.
Announcer and Drag Racing List webmaster Bill Pratt emceed the celebration introducing each of the awardees. Bill’s personality, coupled with his deep respect for each award recipient, set a warm and celebratory tone for the occasion. The tangible energy in the crowd further elevated the atmosphere, as family members and peers alike rejoiced in the recognition of their beloved figures.
The awards, beautiful plaques, were presented by none other than Gary Gore from the legendary Gore racing family of Virginia. The sight of this drag racing royalty bestowing honors on the awardees was truly a moment to behold.
“Longtime drag racing executive Hayne Dominick was the cornerstone behind this ceremony,” said announcer Bill Pratt. “Following a year-long effort of meticulous research and recruitment, Dominick had managed to bring together this elite group of drag racing contributors, his dedication mirrored the enduring commitment of the award recipients.”
“We didn’t know what to expect going into the event after a week of ‘Doom and Gloom’ forecasts from the weather people but with improving forecasts decided the best thing we could do was go ahead with our original plans,” event promoter Dominick said. “We really got lucky on this one, over all it turned out to be a great time for everyone…good racing and we were able to recognize all our Reunion and Celebrity guests for their efforts to support the sport of drag racing over the years, as we had intended. It’s always wonderful to spend time talking with and sharing memories with friends, old and new!”
Each awardee had a unique story, and Pratt made sure their journeys were highlighted. The anecdotes of their careers fostered a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect among the gathered attendees, evoking fond memories and good feelings.
The list of honorees was a “Who’s Who” of photojournalists, track announcers, along with racers who made the “East Coast” drag scene in the 60’s and 70’s up to the present. The list included racers such as Sam Auxier Jr, Len Cottrell, Gene Altizer, Taylor “Mousie” Brown and Gasser legend Fred Bear to name just a few.
Englishtown and Atco track photographer Steve Bell receives his plaque
Photographers on hand for the induction were Todd Dziadosz, Englishtown’s Steve Bell, Mashie Mihalko, former NHRA NED photographer Phil Hutchison, Dana Ford, Tom McCrea, Jeff Unfried, Drag Racing Illustrated’s Van Abernathy and Ted Pappacena from Drag Racing Imagery. Added to the mix were Cindy Monroe author of Gasoline Alley and track photographer Roy Casto.
Announcers Mike Bassin from Mason Dixon Dragway, PDRA’s Scotty Gore, along with Beaver Springs Dragway’s Bill Stuck were guests along with the racers and photographers.
“I was fortunate to be among the photographers honored along with many of my fellow lensmen,” said Drag Racing Action Online contributor and drag racing historian Mashie Mihalko. “Two of my mentors were honored posthumously; Dave Bishop and John DiBartolomeo. This made the awards ceremony even more memorable for me.
“When the names of the photographers, track announcers and writers were mentioned, it reminded the attendees of the great loss of talent and the many friendships formed over the years. Gary Gore and Hayne Dominick of Gold Dust Memories Nostalgia Motorsports Events are to be commended for holding the reunion of the media groups at the event.”
The day was laced with poignant moments, including a memorial tribute to the lost legends of drag racing. It was a heartfelt remembrance of those who left us too soon, coupled with a celebration of the living legends still among us.
After the awards, the scent of burning rubber filled the air as it was time for some drag racing. With five categories of competition vehicles harking back to the golden era of muscle cars, the race was a spectacular showcase of power and nostalgia.
Post-event, the awardees and guests enjoyed a potluck lunch, sitting under a covered tent, reminiscent of the camaraderie of yesteryears. The afternoon was replete with stories and memories, as old friends reconnected in the spirit of the sport they love.
As the day ended, the promise of another Rocking Chair Nationals lingered in the air. The Gold Dust Memories team is already hard at work planning the next iteration of this nostalgic event, determined to carry forward the legacy of those who have shaped the sport of drag racing on the the East Coast.
The Rocking Chair Nationals proved to be more than just an event; it was a touching tribute to the pillars of drag racing, a symbol of respect, recognition, and deep admiration for those who have devoted their lives to promoting and enhancing this thrilling sport.
For more images from the Rocking Chair Nationals, go to