Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Only in Movies — And South Butler

Three races down in 2017, one to go, and South Butler Nostalgia Dragway has broken records in its first year under new management.

Records for participation, records for attendance, and records for speed.

The first two are great, but without the third, the first two don’t exist. And while it’s all for fun at South Butler, bragging rights are still at stake. The thrill of victory, and the fear of missing out are what keep bringing people to this track.

Imagine a legendary fighter or wrestler watching a fight, witnessing a new legend being born, and then coming out of the crowd to challenge the new champion.

That’s what happened last Sunday at South Butler.

“We decided just to go down and watch Sunday morning,” said Brandon DiStanto, who watched his own record get broken around 11:30.

Little did DiSanto, nor his father, Steve, know that afternoon, they’d be on that same track, both chasing and making South Butler history.

First, racer John Frey broke the track record of 113 MPH (set back in 2015), posting a mark of 113.9 in a 1973 Chevy Camaro.

“When the Camaro broke the record, my father and I decided to go back and get the truck and see what we could do,” DiSanto added.

“It took us an hour to altogether to get the truck back together and on the trailer.”

Meanwhile, the record DiSanto would have to break kept climbing.

Within that hour, a gentleman named Ron David surpassed Frey’s mark, scoring a 114.4 with an old Chevy Monza, going head-to-head with Fry, whom in that particular showdown, mustered only a mere 113.3.

All-in-all, the track speed record (for it’s history as a one-tenth of a mile track) was broken three different times in two-and-a-half hours. That is a story in itself. But, by the time the afternoon was over, that fact became a footnote.

After witnessing the performances from David and Frey–even head-to-head–it appeared everyone at the track would go home talking about a legendary record that wouldn’t get challenged for another month. Word had spread among the record-setting crowd that day of a new speed king on a track where winning and losing have never mattered.

Unbeknownst to track announcer, “Racin’ Randy” Salerno, DiSantos went back home only to bring back that ol’ pick-up whose record had just been surpassed–now twice.

After all, they had no idea they’d have a title to reclaim.

“They went back to their house, put part of the motor back together, brought it up, untested, uncorked it, put the truck on the track,” Salerno recalls as if he were part of a South Butler 30 for 30.

And the DiSantos made quite an entrance, too. At 1:30 that afternoon, everybody at the track whispered and talked in hushed tones as they saw them return the way a gunslinger would walk into a old western bar, spurs and all. But instead of spurs and guns, they arrived in a purple 1975 D-100 Dodge pick-up.

Shortly thereafter, the DiSantos lined-up to take back what was theirs only 120 minutes earlier–in the lane sponsored by Friendly Dodge, no less.

“We just can’t let anyone take the crown from us,” DiSanto boasted with a laugh. “But, I wasn’t expecting THAT at all!”

“THAT,” was a speed of 118 MPH–the highest speed ever recorded at South Butler’s one-tenth of a mile, no-prep track.

While that wasn’t the only record smashed last Sunday, nobody will be talking about track highs for cruise cars, drivers, vendors, or fans that flocked to that hidden farm a mile down the road from the South Butler Center.

Except, of course, for the committee, who dreamt of creating memories like Sunday when they feverishly worked all winter to resurrect the ol’ dragstrip.

Guess you can check another item off the only-in-the-movies list.

That’s why they race at South Butler Nostalgia Speedway. And now, each driver has a month left to try to pass the DiSantos and their purple pick-up.

Last call Sunday September 30th at 9 am-til-whenever they’re done racin’.

If it comes to chasing 118 MPH, they may go all night.