Charcoal drawing by a
young 'Stone Age Man' fan
The old master's engine sang
in perfect pitch. It was going to thunder like no other. It was
paired with the ultra beautiful 'Stone Age Man' AA/FD. For this
one invitational meet at the Stardust International Raceway in
Las Vegas, the Old Master Ed Pink and Showman George 'Stone Age
Man' Hutcheson, joined as one, a Royal Flush.
Ed Pink leaned into the cockpit
of the waiting top fuel dragster and warned George, "You'd
better pull them straps tight Hutch, it'll be one helluva ride!"
He wasn't kidding. Sitting in front of George was an expensive
and finely tuned powerhouse 392 Hemi Ed Pink Racing Engine. Ed's
own engine, on lone to George, his friend.
It was a dream team that no top
fuel driver or crew ever wanted to come together at any drag
racing competition. The Titan of Power and the Master of Showmanship
with all the publicity ink in the drag racing world were more
than the others could bear. But the race in the Nevada desert
The hero of this story was a
young boy. He was the reason for these two great masters to come
together and race as friends. Bill Pink, young son of Ed and
#1 fan of George 'Stone Age Man' Hutcheson. Billy would hang
around the racing pits and visit the different dragsters. Nobody
wanted this little kid around their car in the pit area. "Don't
stand too close kid, and don't touch anything!" was what
Billy heard from all the other drag racers. Except the Stone
Age Man. George only knew him as Billy, a kid like hundreds of
others who wanted to see and sit in his dragster and be his friend.
Unknown to George, Billy was his wild card, an ace in the hole.
There were lots of kids, teenagers
and race fans that came by to see George at all the different
southern California racetracks. Like San Fernando Raceway, Lions,
Irwindale, OCIR, Riverside Raceway and Pomona. The fans would
always make a point to see George and say, "Good luck Hutch!"
and "The car looks great Stone Age Man, we're with you all
the way!" Billy too would show up at the track and approach
George. "Hi Stone Age Man! What-ya doing? Can I sit in the
Stone Age Man?" George was always happy to help out all
his fans. As George would work and prepare for the race, Billy
Pink would sit in the dragster and pretend to drive. I remember
seeing Billy doing this a lot. He was a real nice kid, no problem.
Larry Dixon's son Larry Jr. (both
world class drag racing champions, Larry Jr. some years later)
would do the same. One time George brought the Stone Age Man
over to Larry's home. Larry Jr. would sit in it and pretend to
drive the Stone Age Man top fuel dragster. He looked just like
At the next race Billy brought
his dad along to meet George. Billy had bragged about how nice
the 'Stone Age Man' was to him all this time. So Ed came along
to meet George, casual like. Holding his dad's hand, Billy and
Ed Pink walks up to George.
"Hutch, my son has told
me so much about you. Thanks for being so nice to him."
Ed Pink! Billy
why didn't you tell me your dad was Ed?" George said in
Billy replies, "I-don't-know
It was his daddy, not 'The Old Master, Ed Pink'.
Old Master. They didn't call
him that for fun. He was 'the' master race car engine builder.
If you saw him at the track he may have looked aloof or cold.
He was all business at the track. His engines were the most feared
of all to race up against. After purchasing an Ed Pink Racing
Engine, Ed would go out to the track and set the engine for the
buyer for the first run. Ed was very protective of his engines
and his reputation. He didn't like others to mess with his creation.
For this year in 1968, I worked at Ed Pink Racing Engines. He
was very businesslike and secretive about his developments and
innovations. That's why he was the Old Master.
Ed Pink cured what drivers called
the engine 'Black Death'. Every part, spring, tube, everything
had Ed's touch to it. Pink was different; I could see it in his
eyes, a pro, master of his field. I read the history on his face.
Ed Pink had seen his share of losses and victories; long hours
of trial and error and discovery. His reputation was earned.
The fastest and most well known wanted to share the space around
him. But he stood out amongst all the others. In my youth, at
16, I spent my afternoon hours around him, the one, the very
At his shop in Van Nuys California,
I saw him as warm and friendly. His humor was funny-as-hell and
clean, (at least around this 16-year-old). I admired him, and
still do. George and Ed had a solid friendship. They saw each
other at the track and in the shop. Everybody wanted to be Ed
Pink's friend. Ed Pink wanted to be George's friend. One day,
Ed surprised George with the very coveted and rare 'Ed Pink Racing
Engine' jacket, just like the one Ed wore. And all the other
drivers were indignant towards George for it. This is on top
of everything else. Finally George was dealt a good hand.
Which brings me back to Billy (now about age 11 or 12). At Irwindale
one weekend, Billy sought out to find George. George was walking
around the pit area.
He asked, "Hey Stone Age Man, are you going to race at the
big meet at Stardust Raceway in a couple weeks?" George
replied, "No Billy, I don't have an engine ready. We'll
Billy was determined to help
George. So without George's knowing, Billy went to his dad for
help. He explained to his dad George's problem. Billy asked his
dad one favor.
"Dad, I really want to see George race and win at Stardust
Raceway, he needs an engine. Can you please help him dad."
Now Ed Pink maybe all business
at the track, but he dearly loved his only son Bill. He also
enjoyed George's friendship. Maybe he could help George, this
The deal was done. At Pink's
shop, Ed and George set the engine in the Stone Age Man and did
all the prep work. Ed told George that he would go to Nevada
and do the engine overseeing and have Doug Fisher help out in
the pits. Doug was an expert engine man. But he gave way to Ed
and gave him the room and respect that Ed deserved.
On this exciting news, my family,
Dad and Mom, brother and sister all packed up and planned the
weekend, August 11at the Nevada Stardust Resort and Raceway.
A Roman Centurion with my 'Stone
Age Man' crew jacket at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Strip 1968. Elvis
Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Abbott
& Costello, Bing Crosby, Carol Channing and Howard Hughes.
The heavy weights of entertainment on the famous 4 mile 'Strip'.
On the quarter mile strip the other heavy weights gathered. 'The
Hawaiian' with Mike Snively, 'Howard Cam Rattler' with Rick Ramsey,
'Der Wienerschnitzel' with Leroy Goldstein, 'Mr. Ed' with Stan
Shiroma, 'Fireside Inn' with Larry Dixon, 'Atlas Oil Tool Special'
with Gerry Glenn, 'Tony Waters' with Wayne King, 'Beach Boys'
with Dwight Salisbury, 'The Addict', 'Outcast' and many others.
Arriving at the Stardust Raceway, George did his usual track
inspection. I went with him to the end of the track and beyond
to see what was there to stop his dragsters, if something went
wrong. Sand trap, nets, wooden fences, each track was different.
This sand trap was unkempt, over grown. There was no end. It
led into an endless sea of chaparral to the distant hills that
appeared like ships on the horizon. After the light trap there
wasn't much else, maybe two lights. A couple of horned toad lizards
chased each other under a rock by my feet. The air was cool with
a mistral wind from the southwest. I could smell the sweet blossoms
that dotted the barbarous landscape. It would heat up soon. This
is where you might end up if your racer was out of control engulfed
in a fireball, or upside down or both. You'd be on your own in
the dark until help arrived. It was important for George to know
what was down here. I watched him as he ran through all the possibilities.
Finally, after a long silence he said, "Well
go." He did this routinely. He also stood watched the timing
tree and got the cadence of the lights in his mind. George was
well known for his lighting fast hole-shots out of the lights.
This was his standard race prep.
The pit area was a real reality
show. When the other teams saw that George and Ed had partnered
up, it sent a shock wave through the pit area. Dismay and some
anger followed it. Ed, Billy, George, Doug and I stood around
the Stone Age Man dragster. Larry Dixon came by in his usual
slapstick humor laughing and making a racket.
Larry slapping his forehead remarked,
"Holy shit Hutch, I heard you got Pink's engine. What did
you have to do for that?" Just then Ed walks onto the group
"Holy crap, and ya got Ed too! I might just pack up now
and head home!" Pretending to leave, George pulling him
back in. Larry and George always brought the laughter to the
races to ease the tension. Larry and I both worked at Pink's
shop, all of us enjoyed the jokes.
I was proudly wearing my 'Think
Pink' T-shirt and my own 'Stone Age Man' crew jacket.
you're here too
" Larry puts his arm
over my shoulder and adds, "I hope you don't follow your
uncle into drag racing, this thing will never end."
But it was Larry Dixon Jr. who
would follow his famous dad into the Drag Racing history books
with his 1995 rookie season. He earned Rookie of the Year honors;
in 1999 he became the first Top Fueler to go under 4.5 seconds.
In 2005 Dixon moved ahead of Don Garlits on all-time Top Fuel
wins list. The honors piled up for the Jr. Dixon. Maybe one of
his kids, Donovan, Alana, or Darien will continue the dynasty.
Ed, like a crafty card player
didn't want to reveal all the cards in his hand, told George
that he should qualify in the middle of the pack. This was to
not run away with the show but make it more interesting for the
George and his motor man Doug
Fisher knew the game very well. Once at a tough race George was
up against Leroy Goldstein in 'Der Wienerschnitzel'. Doug told
George that before he stages he will pull one of the spark plug
wires and make the engine sound sick. When George staged his
Stone Age Man AA/FD along side Der Wienerschnitzel AA/FD it sounded
really bad. Goldstein's motor man leaned in and said, "Hutch
has a bad engine, he'll be easy to beat, so take it easy on our
engine. Easy win!"
Just after staging the first light, Doug walked up and plugged
in the last of the eight wires giving George full power and easy
win over Leroy Goldstein. George smoked him at the lights and
all the way to the other end. Unfair? Nah! These kinds of tricks
were done all the time by every smart race team.
In 1971 at the US Nationals finals,
Don Garlits faced Steve Carbone. Don had him hands down in his
new rear engine car. Steve's plan was to fire up last, do a short
burnout and let Garlits heat up at the staging light. Garlits
waited and waited. Steve with a cooler engine, staged last and
stomped all over the leaned out, overheated Wynn's Charger beating
Don 'Sure Thing' Garlits.
During qualifying runs Larry
Dixon's Fireside Inn dragster had problems and was out of the
competition. Larry joined the Pink-Hutcheson team. I remember
Larry's infectious laughter and his expert help for our team.
Pat and Larry Jr. watch the men play and race.
Elimination's were tough. Some
of the best and fastest were out early. The Addict and Outcast,
done for the day. Tony Waters and Mr. Ed were next to pack up.
Next came Beach Boys, Atlas Oil Tool Special, both finished.
All top teams and drivers to be sure.
Der Wienerschnitzel, earlier
in July at Denver Colorado, became the first dragster in Colorado
state history under 6.76 E.T., out of the race. The Hawaiian
with Mike Snively, also earlier in Pittsburgh International,
won top eliminator at the Dragster Super Bowl with 7.10 sec.
He was also left to watch the final run from the fence line with
all the others.
It was great drag racing competition
and one of the best shows that I remember. Each team was out
to beat George, Ed and his engine. Some races were close, but
as they say, 'No cigar'. One race remained, the main event on
the short strip. The stakes were high for this one last run.
Howard Cam Rattler with Rick
Ramsey was the last man standing to face Ed and George. The Stone
Age Man had run fast and consistent all day. Ed was happy with
his engines performance. Ed would always watch from the staging
area until the victory light showed his engine had done its job.
He was very pleased with how George out drove this very difficult
field of tough competitors. Ed expected perfection from his engine
George in his own world, deep
in the driver's trance. The condition of being lost in solitary
The final showdown. Howard Cam
Rattler vs. Stone Age Man. The sun had set on the sandy desert.
Blackness covered the event. The only light came from a half
moon on the eastern horizon. At the end of the track the lights
vanished into a curtain of black nothingness. Night driving concerned
George. A fear shared with the other drivers.
It's not an easy job to pilot
a top fuel in the noon day sun even at a familiar track. But
at night, it's a nightmare.
For a moment, picture yourself
sitting in the tight confines of a (1968 circa) Top Fuel Dragster.
It's claustrophobic. Up front blocking all your vision is a big
392 Hemi engine. Each side of you is a fat Goodyear tire. Flames
shooting up and over the tires with a deifying roar that brings
your gut up into your throat. You're wearing a safety helmet,
fireproof mask and suit, gloves and goggles. When you instantly
launch down the track at 225 mph, the weight transfer raising
the engine another 4 inches further blocking any clear view of
the track ahead. Your goggles may fog up or a light spray of
oil may further limit your vision. It's a race, a competition
of the fastest and first to cross the line to victory. Deep down
you love the thrill.
Now do this at night. You'll
have night blindness do to the flames. There will be nothing
to see as light streaks past you in an abstract sense of reality
at speeds well over 225 mph. The track seems to narrows to only
a few feet apart. Your heart pounds as you desperately look for
signs that it's over and you can pop your parachute and slow
down to safety. How terrifying it must be to go so quickly into
nothingness, not knowing where you are or when to stop. The fear
of hitting something solid hidden in the blinding blackness is
At times your dreams share the
darkness with nightmares of the deep. One driver put it this
way, "Night racing is a bitch!" I would have to agree.
But the thrill, the thrill brings
them back every weekend, race after race. It can be additive.
As George recently said, "I'm 71 years old, give me a top
fueler and I'll take it all the way through the lights one last
time, believe me!" I believe he would too.
The fans were electrified for
the final big race. The Howard Cam Rattler was one of the best,
driven by the one and only Rick Ramsey. Rick had won his share
of gold; he was seasoned, tough as old leather. He was here to
win and win big time. Ramsey's pit crew had tasted victory many
times, and they were ready to dine again. George would have to
be tack sharp off the line. Nobody ever caught up and pass The
At the far end of the track,
George sat ready waiting for the tap and push to start. Ed Pink
leaned into the cockpit of the waiting fueler and warned George,
"You'd better pull them straps tight Hutch, it'll be one
helluva ride!" He smiled. When Ed Pink tells you to 'pull
them tight' he means his engine is at full power. The magic has
been passed and his engine knew what to do. Fair enough, George
waves to push.
Tap, tap and the pusher speeds
up. A low rumble and a sharp jolt
Waaaap! Ruuup! Rattt
Right away George could feel a difference.
All day George could hear the special sound that an Ed Pink Racing
Engine makes. Crisp perfect pitch, superb timing, gorgeous even
flames. Ed had spent time with George teaching him the sound
and feel of how a Hemi should run. How to read the signs and
what to look for. After each run Ed would pull the plugs and
study the story of each piston; the heat was the key, color was
the code. This was Ed's private laboratory and he had a PhD and
a Masters in Power. That is why he didn't like anyone messing
with his power plant. Ed did his research and he wrote the book!
Rattt rattt rattt
The Stone Age Man passed by the standing crowds and rolled into
the staging area followed by the great serpent Rattler. As I
piled out of the push car, I noticed the fence line was packed
with fans. Flash photography continuously popped. Everyone was
on their feet cheering. I was transfixed on this speculate around
me. I was so captivated by the sight and the sounds of the two
powerful dragsters rumbling that I missed the burnout. Waaaap!
Ruuup! Rattt rattt rattt
The sound shocked me back to reality,
the sound of pure maximum power. That smell, the smell of Nitromethane
and alcohol filled my lungs and burned my eyes. This was sooo
I heard Billy's voice scream
out, "Come on Todd." We ran downs the track to help
push the long beautiful full-bodied Stone Age Man back to the
staging area. We push and pushed as Doug guided George back into
line. I glanced over at Billy, who in his boyish style had his
tongue hanging out. I then noticed just how deep red the roses
were that Bill Carter had painted on the long nose cover. Waaaap!
Rattt rattt rattt
The sudden roar jolted us both back from
our spot. The ground shook hard and the gravel danced around
my feet. George gave me the 'What me?' with his hands. Some joke.
We finished our job and stood back.
This was the great Coliseum of
Champions. At last the fire breathing chariots took their lane
and the two engine masters approached their champions. I watched
Ed Pink closely. Supreme author of horsepower, he took his place
next to his magnum opus. Like a general he stood over his command.
First he listened with his eyes closed. Then felt the heat from
the heads; next he ran his hand over the header flames. Data
from the internal parts ran through his hand and he processed
the information. Waaaap! Rattt rattt rattt
The ground vibrated.
The sound was crisp. The feel was exactly as it should be. He
glanced over to George, giving him a quick nod and walked away.
Ed Pink gave George all that he needed to out run a hungry Rick
Ramsey in the Howard Cam Rattler. Now it was quickness and driver
skill that would take home the roses. George, alone, went into
his driver trance once more. His timing had to be prefect. Ramsey
was quick, very quick. Rick Ramsey had what it took to beat George
and his Pink Engine.
Each digger rolled up to the
first light to pre-stage. Yellow, yellow. I looked down the track
and it was all but gone, swallowed up by the inky black night.
There was nothing, nothing down there. Ed stood next to Billy
with his hand on his son's shoulder. Billy had his fingers in
his ears as he stood on his toes. Larry Dixon stood just behind
the Stone Age Man leaning over to see what George might be viewing.
The rhythms of these two top
fuelers, the tall flames illuminated the action, the earth shaking
under me, the popping camera lights, my breath was cut shallow
by this exciting moment and brought tears to my youthful eyes.
All through my life I would never forget these felling and the
place where I stood, center stage.
Ramsey eagerly staged again and
rolled into the light, yellow! George cautiously inch forward
just enough to break the light, yellow! And hold fast. George
knew that leaving room at the last light gave him the edge. As
the amber lights descended, George's instinctive reflexes took
over. As the last amber dimmed, 'down 2-3 pop' Green! George
leaped out a quarter length ahead of Ramsey. His Racemaster slicks
never smoked and Pink Power took over. From my view it was all
too close. The power of Ed Pinks finely tuned thoroughbred pushed
ahead and brought the Stone Age Man to a half-length lead by
mid-track. I saw both dragsters disappear into the black hole
beyond the lights. Fear gripped my throat as I lost sight of
my Uncle George.
The timing light flashed on:
Ramsey - 7.20 222.60, George - 7.14 225.61 Victory!
The entire crowd let out a huge cheer and screamed. They went
nuts with excitement. I saw Ed Pink pump his fist and then quickly
collect his cool. However his son Billy went crazy and jumped
into his dad's arms exchanging hugs. Like a flash we all scrambled
to get into the push car before it drove off. It was a fast quick
ride with everyone inside on top of each other. It was fun to
see Ed enjoying Billy's excitement. He was just another proud
dad with his son. It was easy to see young Bill's hero worship
for his dad. Ed never went to the end of the track for a victory
celebration with other team. Tonight was very different.
It was dark at the other end
of the track. As we piled out George and Rick were embracing
and shaking hands as two friends. The long contest was over and
to the victor goes the spoils and a victory dance or two. Ed
Pink walked up grinning, or more of a glowing smile. He was very
proud of George. "Nice job Hutch
" His few words
were all that was needed to be said. "Thanks my friend,
thanks" George replied in humility and a brotherly hug.
Billy was jumping with joy. I took my place in line for the congratulation
handshake. I got a warm hug and pat on the back. My reward was
to be part of the union of these great men and their machines.
"Oh it thundered Ed, all
the way it thundered
" George repeated joyously.
He went over and whispered into the Stone Age Man injector, "You
see that's how it done, ya listen to Ed and let me drive."
He laughed. Billy ran up and also whispered into the injector,
"You were great." Larry Dixon spoke up, "Hey maybe
I should do that with my car, think it'll listen?" "Noooo
no!" Everyone chimed in as one.
In the future when the scrolls
of history are unrolled, it will read;
August 11 1968: Invitational meet at Stardust International Raceway
in Las Vegas: Winner George Hutcheson driving the Stone Age Man
AA/FD over Rick Ramsey driving the Howard Cam Rattler AA/FD.
It will not mention the thrill
of the daylong races and all the great competitors who tried
to win the honors. Nor will it have my memories of the moment
standing center stage and the over welling feelings I had at
the final contest. Not a line of all the professional help from
the wonderful crew of Doug Fisher, Larry Dixon and Ed Pink.
But I will know whom this passing
historical moment belongs to. A father and son. A brilliant man
of technical knowledge who mastered his craft and his young son
who asked his father to help a friend. The influence of a young
man named Bill Pink.
Drag News Vol. 14 No.
9 - 1968
More Todd Hutchenson
"The Time of My Life"
A Gathering of Long Trailers
Working for Pink
Stone Age Man
Taming of the Rat Trap
By Todd Hutcheson, 2009