C.J. "Pappy" Hart
A Tribute

C.J.
1911  -  2004

I was 16, just a young kid fascinated with the thrill of speed and with little more than a well used motorcycle and very little money, but C.J. was always at the ready with words of encouragement.  Pappy introduced me to other regular motorcycle racers, like the father and son team that ran the fuel twin Triumphs and other drag bike heros of mine at Lion's Drag Strip in the early 60's that took me under their wing (or at least let me hang around) and taught me how to race and how to tune with nitro.  No matter how busy Pappy was, he would always say "Hi kid" and tell me I was doing great. The first night I made it to quarters and lost, as I was turning my bib in, Pappy said "hey kid, you really did good tonight" and he shoved a handful of passes my way so I could come back another night.  Many drag racers that already were or went on to become legends in the sport of drag racing, will readily tell any that will listen that it was C.J. "Pappy" Hart that helped mold their careers with constant encouraging words or by sharply admonishing them if they weren't being fair.  Pappy would not put up with much nonsense and all competitors were treated as equals. None, no matter how big time they thought they were, ever got privileges over any other racer. Pappy, you encouraged me and you taught me that no one was better than me and I was no better than any other and to never, ever give up on my dreams or myself.

It was many years later with a mutual friend, Ray Alley, that C.J. came to my shop in Santa Ana, CA one day after one of their weekly lunches. More than likely not knowing or understanding much about my chopped turbocharged front engine VW Type III "mini" Pro Stock platform 1/4 mile drag car and after climbing in and sitting behind the wheel awhile that C.J. got out and looked at me and said  "Hey kid, that's great !"  I would liked to have been able to think that C.J. remembered me from earlier years but I know he didn't, it was just C.J.'s way....

Pappy, I know I was one of the thousands of racers you helped, but as a young kid, you changed my life and now that you've gone off to be with Peggy,
I still want to say Thank You, Thank You C.J. "Pappy" Hart....

Newspaper article:

October 3, 1964
Twenty year old Roland Leong, in his own "Hawaiian" rail, drives a nitro-fueled dragster for the first time. He fails to deploy the car's parachute at the end of the 1/4-mile at Lions Dragstrip in Long Beach, California, USA, and the car does not stop until it gets to the back of the sand trap at the end of the track. Track manager C.J. "Pappy" Hart tears apart Leong's racing license.




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