• John DiBartolomeo


History sucks. Or at least it did when I was in High School. Of course, Mrs. DeAngelis, my History teacher, may take offense to that statement. But back then, I’m not sure I cared much for who may have won the Spanish/American War or who signed the Declaration of Independence and why. I may have mentioned this before but the older I get, the more I become interested in the things and people which came before us; the hows and whys of where we’ve been.

I mentioned this in a story not too long ago that I’m not sure we can know where we’re going if we don’t know how we got there. That’s what makes history important.

I just came back from a celebration of life for former NHRA Division Director Darwin Doll held at the Eastern Museum of Motorsports Racing. It was a moving tribute but also gave me time to visit some of the displays within the walls of the Museum; everything from drag racing to circle track cars and everything in between. I’m guessing the high school me wouldn’t have been interested but I probably should have been. And with respect to Mrs. DeAngelis, I probably should have taken more of an interest in the Declaration of Independence too. But…

The very first time I visited the NHRA Motorsports Museum, Steve Gibbs was in charge of the place and it was he who gave me the $2 tour. It was in my younger days and I probably wasn’t all that much interested in “old cars.” But what I saw in that room was not the old cars but rather the passion the racers had for the sport. That same passion can be felt at the Eastern Museum, or any Museum for that matter.

Some of the problems we’re having today are nothing new. Yeah, sure some are, but I believe we can learn from our past. Think of how neat it might be if we could talk to a George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Steve LeSueur has been a fuel dealer for years in Virginia. A lot of what he has came from his father Frank who was in all sorts of businesses revolving around drag racing. Frank passed away in 2007, but as Steve and I spoke last weekend, he agreed about how vital it may be to at least get his thoughts on today’s drag racing world. Frank was the operator of Suffolk Raceway, began World Wide Racing Fuels, started a booking agency for match races; in short, he did it all.

What would Wally Parks think of what the NHRA has become? What about Jim Carrier who started the IHRA and Jim Tice, the founder of the long-gone AHRA? What can we learn from them? Maybe nothing but I don’t believe it would hurt to ask and maybe, just maybe, there could be something we can gleam from their knowledge and experience.

Along sort of those same lines, I’m always interested in how people end up living where they do. I purchased a truck from a guy in Ohio once and through speaking with him, found out his grandparents came to this country from Italy through Ellis Island, much the same as mine did. Seeing how they had lived in Ohio their whole lives I questioned why Ohio? “According to what I was told,” this gentleman explained, “when my grandfather got off the boat in New York, he went to the train conductor and said ‘This is how much money I have, take me to where the money runs out.’ That was Ohio.”

My story is much the same except when my grandfather got off the boat, he didn’t have a dime to his name and as such, our family grew up in New York, the Bronx specifically. Since then, we’ve all moved away but our hearts are still in NY.

How did your family arrive in the locale they are today?

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