Willis Ragsdale

July 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Where Are They Now?

Willis Ragsdale started drag racing in the late 50’s and was one of the true pioneers of the sport and a big part of what it has become today. He used all types of engines through the years including small block Chevy twice, Hemi, and small block Ford. He competed against many of the sport’s legends throughout his career ranging from Don Nicholson to Lee Shepherd to current Pro Stock drivers like Mike Edwards and Larry Morgan. He won several divisional and national eliminator titles in both NHRA and AHRA, including the U.S. Nationals. He set several national class records in Modified and Competition Eliminator and held the NHRA national record in his class when he retired.

He retired from drag racing in late 1987 after 30 years in the sport. In the early 90’s he wanted to have something to tinker with so he bought a 1970 Mach I Mustang. After a few years he decided to build a first class 1937 3-window Ford Coupe street rod. He sold the Mach I to his son and began searching the country for a ’37 Coupe. During this time, he also retired from the petroleum company where he worked for over 30 years. This gave him more time to take on his new project. After several cross-country searches he found a good body and began the build. Last year, he finished the ten year build and is very proud of the results. The coupe features a 427 cubic inch small block Ford that is a unique combination of a Windsor block and Cleveland heads, or “Clevor”. The car also showcases handmade polished stainless steel headers, exhaust tubing, suspension, brackets, and bumpers. It also features a 4-link rear suspension, independent strut front suspension, and disc brakes all around. Willis Ragsdale has driven the car to several car rallies and shows and has received several awards and numerous compliments. He and his wife, Helen, are in their late 70’s and in good health. They continue to live in Pasadena, TX where they have been since 1957.

Vance Hunt

June 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Where Are They Now?

A name synonymous with Top Fuel racing in the southwest from 1960 to 1971 is Vance Hunt. As an owner/tuner, the Arlington, Texas racer fielded a long series of dragsters driven by Ed Mabry, J.L. Payne, Ted Arnold, Jerry Ellis, and Watus Simpson. Hunt began racing in the late ’40s at “any place we could.” Fuel racing beckoned in 1960, and with J.L. Payne driving Hunt defeated both Don Garlits and Chris Karamesines for the Number One spot on the Drag News Mr. Eliminator list and won the ’62 AHRA Nationals. Hunt decided to retire from racing in 1971. His final race was over Labor Day weekend at Green Valley. In his final season he even briefly raced a Mustang Funny Car. Inductions into the NHRA Division 4 Hall of Fame in 1978 and the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1997 and most recently an honoree in the 2009 Holley National Hot Rod Reunion were fitting tributes to someone who gave so much of his time and talent to the sport during its early years.
After retiring from racing Vance worked for General Motors where he retired from in 1988 after 35 years. He still lives in Arlington with his wife, Wilma, who he married in 1961. Vance has one grown daughter living in Dallas. He still enjoys going to the races and visiting. Vance also spends time with fellow Texan Jim Cullen, helping him tune his nostalgia front motor dragster at the Bakersfield races.
(information from draglist.com)

Don Hardy

May 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Where Are They Now?

In 1980 Hardy began doing efficiency work on irrigation engines. Since that time his business, Don Hardy Fuel Efficient Engines, has continued to grow. Through this company they have developed generators to run on bio-gas and have shipped those units all over the world.
Hardy still enjoys working and tackling any project that presents a challenge. He has been blessed by having the opportunity to make a living doing what he enjoys.

In 2008 Don Hardy was named the Employer of the Year. Hardy has been in business for more than 40 years. He has won multiple awards and has been inducted into two Hall of Fames over the past 43 years. Don’s company consists of ten employees. One of which, Shana Guthrie, wrote the nomination. She shared of times that Hardy worried over her family when there was sickness in her home and the allowances he made to allow her to attend school functions.
“He has employees that have been with him for 4 years to almost 40 years.”

In presenting the award, Tom Farris said, “Don takes care of everything from setting the motors, delivering the motors to Kansas and Nebraska, shipping generators to California for the wind farms and the Philippines to produce electricity for the towns that have never had electricity and troubleshooting over the phone when he isn’t in the field setting a motor up.

“Don has figured out how to save farmers money all across the United States by developing a natural gas conversion kit to help them run their business more efficiently.

“Don has always brought in revenue to Floydada from people coming to pick up things from race cars to irrigation motors and parts.”
Don Hardy continues to take pleasure in improving and modifying engines, vehicle and irrigation, and car collecting. He also enjoys Drag Races, NASCAR, NBA, car shows, anything his grandchildren participate in and celebrating the holidays with his family.
He and his wife, Carolyn, live in Floydada, TX and have three children, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Eddie Hill

April 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Where Are They Now?

During their retirement from NHRA drag racing at the end of the 1999 racing season, the Hills had time to pursue hobbies for which there was no time while they were on the road during their drag racing career.

Eddie took up airplane flying lessons and made a solo flight from Waco, Texas, to Wichita Falls. He is now contemplating his sport pilot’s license.

Eddie is also bitten by the radio-controlled aircraft bug. He has over 40 nitro, methanol and gas-burning aircraft, some with wingspans of over 11 feet, as well as 6 radio-controlled helicopters. He likes to perform aerial shows to classical music, and has put on shows for local groups, always assisted by Ercie.

Ercie took up her college career at Midwestern State University, where she logged 43 additional credit hours with a 4.0 grade point average, majoring in English. Her favorite courses have been Biblical history and astronomy.

The Hills purchased a 400 acre horse and cattle ranch on the outskirts of town, where Ercie raises and trains Tennessee Walking Horses (one horsepower at a time). Her proudest achievement is hand-gentling a five-year-old wild mustang mare she purchased from the Bureau of Land Management. Eddie set a new record for being 68 years old before he got bucked off the first time (while attempting to ride an unbroken horse bareback). He broke a few ribs in the process.

Eddie enjoys not only the horses, but chasing jackrabbits on his dirt bikes and ATV’s and motocrossing his way across the ranch. Ercie is learning to ride a dirt bike, as well.

Eddie and Ercie have a great love for animals. They have two dachshunds (Sweetie P and Angel), two mixed breed yard dogs (Buster and Indy), two housecats (Burnout and Lola), two pythons (Sneaky and Shirley), numerous barn cats, and six horses (Lil, Rebel, Star, Bandera, Gypsy and Hot Rod). They board numerous other horses at their ranch, Hill Country, in Wichita Falls.

The couple faithfully attends the Cowboy Church of Henrietta, Texas, and attributes all of their successes in life to the Lord.

Please join the Hills on the 1st Saturday of every month for the “Eddie Hill’s Fun Cycles Supper Run” at Eddie Hill’s Fun Cycles, Inc. in Wichita Falls, where they are enjoying the “fun” in Fun Cycles.

Paul Candies

January 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Where Are They Now?

Long before all of the modern multi-car professional teams in drag racing there was the team of Paul Candies and Leonard Hughes. A drag racing enthusiast for many years, Candies’ team became the first two-car team to race each other in the final round at the National Hot Rod Association’s U.S. Nationals in 1976. For their accomplishments over 25 years, the team – composed of Paul Candies and Leonard Hughes – in 1999 was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Paul Candies is currently President and Chief Operating Officer of Otto Candies, LLC a Louisiana-based marine transportation and offshore services company. As head of Otto Candies – a firm started in 1942 by his father, the late Otto Candies – he oversees a fleet of more than 100 vessels serving the offshore oil and gas industry worldwide. The company, with offices in Mexico and Argentina, is known as the first to transport an oil production platform from Houston to the United Kingdom drilling area in the North Sea and for its emergency response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.