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World of Wheels – Oldest Dragster in Existence in Indiana [Video]

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World of Wheels Introduces Indy Crowd to Oldest Dragster

The crowd at the annual World of Wheels in Indianapolis got a rare treat in February – an up-close-and-personal look at the oldest existing dragster in Indiana. American Modern Insurance Group’s Rick Drewry talks with Bill Brunson, grandson of the cars’ original builder and racer, about this rolling piece of drag racing history.


The Evolution of Drag Racing

The “Brunson Special” is the first vehicle built specifically for drag racing in Indiana. It is a perfect example of how drag racing evolved from the local grass roots racing meets to the multi-million dollar events we see today. Vehicles like this show how rough and tumble the sport of drag racing was in its early years.


How Early Dragsters Roll

Brunson’s grandfather, also named Bill, was a tool and die man for Chrysler who built this amazing race car by hand. Constructed from old water pipe, the dragster is a great example of how early racing enthusiasts used whatever they had on hand to build their cars. Back then you could build a dragster for a couple thousand dollars. Now it costs millions.

(Photo courtesy of

Brunson Famous as Local Dragster

Bill Brunson Sr. raced at many of the local drag strips like Bunker Hill and Stout Field. In 1957 he competed at the 3rd World Series of Drag Racing (WSODR) in Cordova, IL. The Brunson dragster is said to have reached up to 170 mph on the track before it was retired in 1966.

(Photo courtesy of

Labor of Love Restoration

Sitting untouched in storage for over 30 years, the dragster was all but forgotten. Pulling the car out of moth balls and restoring it was a labor of love for the younger Brunson. Rebuilding it taught him a great deal about his grandfather (who passed away when he was three years old) and the sport he loved.

(Photo courtesy of

Hope She Cranks

When Brunson pulled the dragster out of his grandparent’s dusty garage, he didn’t have much hope that it would crank. But it only took six or seven seconds of trying before the engine turned over. There wasn’t much restoration needed. Just a new transmission, battery and some freshly painted panels. Soon the Brunson Special was ready for its first Cacklefest in 2004.

(Photo courtesy of

What’s a Cacklefest?

Where do classic dragsters go when they can’t be dragsters anymore? Why, Cacklefest of course – THE gathering of classic dragsters that were once certified to run in the top fuel or top funny car classes 20 to 40 years ago. These cars may no longer be legal to run down a track but they can still put on a show. When Cacklefest participants are idling at the same time, the symphony of sound can be incredible. With the roar of the engines, the intense fumes from the fuel and the amazing look of these cars – this is an assault on the senses.


Makes an Old Dog Feel like a Young Pup

People who attend Cacklefests go to see the dragsters from their childhood, cars capable of hurtling down a quarter mile track at 175-200 mph. As regulations increased and corporations took over the sponsoring the race cars however, things changed.


More Restored Dragsters than Ever Before

The car shows and Cacklefests have helped give many of the old top fuel dragsters a second lease on life. Today there are more restored race cars than at any tme in the last 40 years. Collectors are lovingly restoring dragsters from the 60’s and 70’s just to show them off at these events.

(Photo courtesy of John Olcott)

World of Wheels-Indianapolis 2016

Considered by many to be the Super Bowl of car shows, the 57th Annual World of Wheels-Indianapolis takes place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds February 12-14, 2016. The next time you see an old dragster on display at the World of Wheels, stop and talk to the owner. They’ll likely have a story to tell. Like the “Brunson Special,” a story of one man’s need for speed and the grandson who shared in that passion. Together they leave a legacy for future generations.


(Photo courtesy of

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