Here is a great shot of Dwight’s brother Mac Bale driving the famous top fuel hydro Climax. Take note that this was the longer version of the Sanger hydro that ruled the early 1970′s drag racing scene. This shot was taken in Oakland at the then titled Oakland Marine Stadium, just off of Dolittle Drive back around 1971 or ’72 (Dolittle Drive is now an industrial complex but the estuary still exists). Also note while there is a parachute on the back of the boat, the driver has no parachute on his back, which later became mandatory.
Thiis similar hull was successfully driven by other drag boat legends as Ted Holden, Jerry Gleason, Larry Schwabeland, Sam Kurtavich, and the first ever to top 200 m.p.h. on the liquid quarter mile Gary Gabelich (he later set the land speed record in the Blue Flame at Bonneville).
On an October day in 1973 I spent the day on this very beach, while having my AM radio in my ear listening to the A’s beat the Mets in game 7 of the World Series in the days of Reggie. Here I was at the boat drags jumping aroung like an idiot, people wondering what I was doing. Then from just west we could see then hear the fireworks going off above the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s had just won the Series, but that’s another story…
As I’ve said before I have looked for a long time for high quality vintage drag boat pictures, Lawren Bale’s are the best from what I’ve seen.