For those who don’t know me, my name is Mike Hart. I was born the son of a poor share-cropper. O.K. That’s a lie. But in 1993 I did manage to marry into a drag racing family. Prior to marriage I didn’t know much about drag racing. Like many outsiders to our motor sport, I pondered about the sanity of those who thought driving A to B required any sort of skill. Oh boy was I far off base.
Fast forward to January 2011. I’m in my father-in-law’s shop working on a little kid’s car that is faster than most stock sports cars in the 1/8 mile. As a mature grown-up I have decided that strapping my 10 year old and 13 year old kids into a car that goes from 0 to 85 miles per hour in 8 seconds is a grand idea. Did I mature into a sage genius or what?
What’s more, I’m working in a shop with a local legend. You see, I married the legend’s daughter, so I have already started off on the wrong foot. My wife is the better half of the marriage and my father-in-law is all too aware of that fact.
The legend is a master machinist with 50 years experience under his belt in machine work, car building, and drag racing. In fact, Harry “the legend” Dubach built his own front engine dragster from the bottom up way back in 1968. He named the dragster The Iron Butterfly. This is where my current problem began.
Not only does Harry still hold a grudge for the daughter marriage thing, but he is in his element in his shop. Quickly Harry adapts the nickname “Rookie” for me as I fiddle with nuts and bolts. I’m allowed to do little more than clean and polish parts. Thank goodness. I could really hurt somebody or something. Harry’s nickname for me is accurate.
At the end of each shop session Harry schooled me on how different engine combinations can create horsepower or cause grief. The amount of knowledge in the man’s brain is phenomenal. One evening after Harry’s drag racing school I recalled the days when I believed people just got in a machine and drove from the beginning of the track to the end. The more I get to know about drag racing the more humbled I become. The more Harry refers to me as “rookie” the more humbled I become.
Harry started the whole gig years ago when he was a kid in the 1950’s. If you check out www.ironbutterflyracing.com you can see You Tube video that was captured beginning in the late 50’s in Southern California on Harry’s 16 MM movie camera. Harry raced a 1950 Chevy until he began building dragsters in the 60’s. One of his first dragsters was named the “Wee Car.” Harry’s son Jed said, “Wee” whenever he sat in the car. Thus the dragster’s name was born.
The Iron Butterfly name came from two sources. When the car was built in 1968 the song “In a Gadda Da Vida” was popular by the band Iron Butterfly. The Iron Horse was also a popular Utah, blown, top-fuel, big block Hemi dragster. Harry’s dragster is an injected alcohol small block Chevy. Thus the Iron Butterfly seemed like a fitting name. Harry won 4 championships in his 1968 dragster in the 1970s. In the 1990’s Jed began to drive the Iron Butterfly. Jed has also met much success in the sport.
At the end of the 1990’s my wife and I became biological success stories by reproducing. The product of the extracurricular activity was 2 sons. Shawn, the oldest, took to drag racing like an alcoholic to a bottle. From the moment Shawn could crawl until 2 minutes ago, he would line his matchbox cars in the staging lanes and race the front pair down the hallway. Shawn’s Grandma Jan always said, “Boys can make car noises before they can talk.”
Jed’s family formed around the same time with the addition of 2 lovely daughters. Thus Harry’s family has grown to 4 children if you include his son, daughter and their spouses and 4 grandchildren.
In the 2011 racing season Harry’s Iron Butterfly Racing team will have 4 cars. Jed is charged with driving the Iron Butterfly top dragster. My sons Shawn and Dillan will drive 2 junior dragsters. My niece (Jed’s daughter) Hailey will begin her racing career. Poor Harry has to crew chief all 4 cars. When Harry complains about all the work remind him who is at fault.
Jed has been racing nearly 20 years in the Iron Butterfly dragster. Shawn, at age 13 has now raced more years than he has remaining in the Junior Drag Racing program. Shawn is a 5 year veteran. This is Dillan’s 3rd full year. Both my sons are moving up to a faster class than the previous year. Hailey gets the opportunity to try her hand at the sport for the first time. All of the changes in categories have made for an extremely eventful off season.
Soon I will provide more detail into the off season in this blog.
On March 16th Harry and Shawn will joined the Jack Harris Autobody Nitro Thunder team in Bakersfield. Harry not only maintains the 4 cars in his team. He is also an active crew member on Jack’s team.
Future blogs will contain details, as relayed by Shawn, about the March Meet in Bakersfield. I will not get information from Harry on the trip because, what happens in Bakersfield stays in Bakersfield.
Thank you for reading my introductory blog. I hope you check back for the next update.