About Texas Timing Association
Go back for a moment to the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. WWII was over, and thousands of young veterans, back from the excitement of being overseas and in combat, found themselves bored by civilian life. They sought their kicks in things like stunt flying, riding stripped-down motorcycles, and tearing around the countryside in old cars with souped up engines. Street racing by these young daredevils, called ‘dragging,’ was considered to be one of the great social problems of the age. Before gaining grudging acceptance in subsequent decades, hot rodders in that day were usually branded as troublesome hoodlums.
The first effort to make drag racing respectable was a move to confine all the racing to off-street tracks. The original sanctioning body, the National Hot Rod Association, established legitimate class-based drag racing in Southern California. When the NHRA made the first big move away from its west coast base, heading out across the US to establish drag racing as a safe and respectable sport nation-wide, their first stop was at a legendary spot in North Texas.
Texas Drag Racing Begins
On some clear, sunny weekends beneath the brilliant Texas sun, every hot rodder and car nut in the Southwestern United States had began to gather and race the first Sunday of each month at an abandoned Army Air Force auxiliary landing field east of Dallas, near the tiny rural town of Caddo Mills. The deserted airport way out in the country had runways more than a mile long, made of wide, solid concrete, with traction like no one had ever seen before. The NHRA Safety Safari pulled in there one spring weekend in 1954, and established the Caddo Mills drag strip as only the second sanctioned track in the country outside of California.
Most of the contestants at those first Caddo races drove their cars there, and raced on the same tires that were spun and smoked on that concrete track by the same engine and drive train that took them back and forth to school or work every day of the week. The track was operated by the North Texas Timing Association, and by the members of all the car clubs that were members of NTTA. Caddo was run by and for hot rodders.
In the decade of the 1950s, Caddo was recognized as being not only one of the first drag strips in the country outside of California, it was by far the most important track in this whole part of America. This legendary strip hosted still-talked about runs by Don Garlits and his “Swamp Rat”, Bobby Langley's renowned series of "Scorpion" dragsters, the twin-engine terrors of both Eddie Hill and Jack Moss, Nationals-winning altereds like Buddy Anderson’s "Widdle White Wabbit" Fiat and Don Breithaupt's '32 Ford "DCB" coupe, Arizona's "Speed Sport Special" modified roadster, Carl Stones’ “Rolling Stone” roadster, August "Hands" Hartkoff, and many others.
It was home many times to the Texas State Championships, presented annually by the NTTA up into the 1960’s. Caddo existed for many years as the greatest place in the Southwestern United States to race, but unfortunately, was never operated as a carefully managed business. Times changed, other tracks opened, and eventually both Caddo and the NTTA passed on.
Traditional Drag Racing
The spirit created and nurtured at Caddo Mills remains with us yet today. Side-by-side racing, pitting home-built hot rods and race cars created out of daring ideas, hard work, and ingenuity rather than with deep pockets and generous sponsorships, where it was all about competition and camaraderie: these traits became established as the basic tenets of hot rodding. Though the times have indeed changed, and with them public taste and styles, the spirit and roots of traditional hot rodding live on now just as before.
The Texas Timing Association is a group of racers who cherish those days of traditional drag racing, as it was done when wheelbases were short, engines were out in front where you could keep an eye on them, nitromethane and methanol were commonly used fuels, and most of the spectators were just other racers and hot rodders standing by the fence in the staging area waiting their turn to go to the starting line.
There are a number of former national champion cars and drivers of that era who run with the TTA. Unlike some of the original cars that are now in museums or private collections, a famous few of these fabulous machines are still around and doing the same exciting thing they were built to do. The rest are exact reconstructions of the original cars, or have been built to the look and style of traditional hot rods and drag racers. Friends from the Outlaw Fuel Altered Association, Southwest Junior Fuel Association, Central States Gassers, and Southwest Superchargers often come race with us. Whatever the case, the appearance and performance of the cars you see run with the TTA is always authentic and traditional.
How We Race
It used to be heads-up, flat-out, one-on-one, hard-core drag racing. Hardly anyone got rich or famous in those days, and everybody raced just for the thrill of speed, the trophy that came with winning, and the bragging rights. There were no corporate sponsors, no big money, and very few touring professionals. People drag raced just for fun, not to earn a lot of cash or sell more cars or other products for a sponsor.
The Texas Timing Association still races just because we love to do it! Come to a TTA event and see authentic former national championship cars. Many of these are unrestored, proudly displaying the patina of age that has developed since they were built in the 1950's and 60's. These are the original cars that started it all: Front-Engined Dragsters, Altered Coupes, Roadsters, and Sedans, and all the exciting Gassers, Traditional Hot Rods, Funny Cars and Super/Stockers that complete the picture. It's the real deal!
Mostly, we're just racing the only way that ever made sense to us. Late model front-wheel-drive foreign door cars with whiny little four cylinder engines, stutter boxes, and electronics really don’t interest us. We like those big ol' American V-8's, from historic early Ford flatheads to the screaming smallblock Chevy's and on to thundering big inch Hemi's, some with blowers or mechanical fuel injection, a lot with roller cams and zoomie headers, others on methanol and nitromethane. Many of the Texas Timing Association cars are hand-built front-engined dragsters or modified pre-WW II-style coupes, sedans, or roadsters. To us, this is hot rodding the way it began, the way it became legendary, the way it really was back then, is to us now, and always will be in our lives.
Reconnecting Traditional Hot Rodding and Drag Racing
The Texas Timing Association is working to keep the traditional roots of drag racing alive, and show the new racers and fans how our sport developed, and what the cars of its earliest and most sensational days looked and ran like. We are particularly interested in encouraging the reunion of all types of hot rodders: bringing those with the most traditional cars, as well as 21st century street rodders and show car owners, back into union with drag racers. Our sport began and grew from a mixture of these three elements when hot rodding, car shows, and drag races were all simply different parts of the same thing.
That thing grew away from its traditional roots when Fuel Coupes became Funny Cars, when Dragster engines moved back behind the driver, when A/ Gassers got late model bodies and became Pro Stockers. Many people became disenchanted with the way drag racing changed, and moved away to other areas of the hot rodding sport. The tragic change began when the national sanctioning bodies made a decision to do away with traditional drag racing classes and cars in return for greater sponsorship money. Sadly, they made rules favoring late model cars in all but just a few special classes so the sponsors and manufacturers could more profitably see their products “win on Sunday and sell on Monday”.
The emphasis on newer looking cars in modern drag racing alienated many of the traditional hot-rodders, with their deuce coupes and high-boy model "A" roadsters and radically chopped sedans. These are the people that started the whole thing. The sport of drag racing began because these original hot-rodders put big engines in old cars and wanted to compete with each other to see whose was fastest. The TTA honors and values these classic cars, along with the car clubs and traditional hot rodders who have kept that flame burning brightly throughout the years. These are the cars the TTA wants to see back out on the track.
Then, Now, and Forevermore
Towards this goal, the TTA is developing a series of drag races with traditional hot rods and authentic historical drag race cars. Back in the day, the original North Texas Timing Association was a group that brought together all of the mid-20th century car clubs into the single body that operated the famed Caddo Mills drag strip. Now, in the early 21st century, the subsequent Texas Timing Association seeks Texas car clubs to partner with us and help to put on our modern day events in the same old way.
There was no difference between hot rodding, car shows, and drag racing back in the day, and we find no reason for us to be divided now. We are one and the same, then, now, and forevermore. Some of us do it on the street, others at shows, and still more of us on the strip, but all of us do it with that classic hot rod spirit. Big time professional racing changed, but we never did.
The real hot rod spirit lives on in us, and is what we at the Texas Timing Association are working to strengthen by reviving traditional events such as the Texas State Championships. If enough other hot rodders, car clubs, and drag strips that share our interests join in, we will be able to produce traditional drag races several times a year at tracks around Texas. If you are interested in being involved in this effort with the Texas Timing Association, whether as a drag strip owner, a member of a co-hosting hot rod club, or as a contestant, please contact us and offer your support.