• John DiBartolomeo


If you’ve been fortunate enough to make several orbits around the Sun (i.e., you’ve been around a long time), there is little doubt you’ve acquired some amazing stories and memories. You may have made a lot of money in life along with obtaining quite a few friends, but when you put your head down on the pillow at night, those memories and stories undoubtedly flood your subconscious mind. Sometimes we need little reminders of the memories and henceforth the reason for some of the “stuff” we have sitting around our homes and shops.

Of course, to quote the late comedian George Carlin, “Have you ever noticed that everyone else’s ‘stuff’ is s##t and your s##t is ‘stuff’?”

Memorabilia is a big business today. In 2008 when the famed Yankee Stadium in New York was demolished to make room for a new facility, extra security guards were on hand at the final game to ensure fans weren’t walking off with a piece of history. Although, several pieces were sold to fans and memorabilia collectors anyway. And when the Dallas Cowboys’ Texas Stadium was razed in 2009, several components of the place were sold to fans.

Drag racing may not be quite as popular as Major League Baseball or the Dallas Cowboys, but there are still memories to be acquired.

In the mid-‘60s, a cinder block tower was erected at Atco Raceway in New Jersey, remaining operational until 2006 when a new state-of-the-art tower replaced that iconic building. I always felt when that cinder block tower was demolished, there should have been a party. None such existed when that building disappeared. But what happened to the many cinder blocks used in its construction? And what stories could those tell?

I know it’s not exactly a piece of Yankee Stadium, Texas Stadium or even Atco Raceway, but on my shelves is a section of broken concrete from the burnout box at nearby Beaver Springs Dragway, signed by the original track owner who was the one who poured the concrete decades ago.

How many other things do we have as keepsakes in our “man caves?”

The problem I have with them is they only really mean something to the person who saved them. But is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so. It allows us to remember where we may have been or something that triggers a smile or a positive response to something from our past.

They say you can’t take it with you, but a story I came across may refute that premise.

East Coast Nostalgia Hall of Fame inductee Joe Boggs didn’t take any money with him into the afterlife, but he made sure he went out with nitro in his casket. A nitro junkie, when Joe passed away in 2016, his family chose to make sure two small bottles of nitro were buried along with him. That’s passion!

How many of us have stacks of old magazines lying around our homes? I still have a tendency to pick some up and read through them again. It allows me to bring back up the memories I had while either purchasing them in the first place or reading the story for the first time. Remembering where we’ve been can sometimes help us chart the course for where we’re going. That may sound like some kind of “fortune cookie talk,” but it’s true.

In my earlier days, I somewhat despised listening to the talk of drag strips long since gone. I don’t think I cared; now I do. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but the more “trips around the sun” I make, the more I begin to appreciate where I’ve been, as I believe we all should. We may not have any money (and as a racer, there’s probably some truth to that) but we do have stories; stories which are grounded in memories.

What are some of your memories?

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