This is just a smattering of the bio for this lady and her late husband Bob. she will be working her 61st US Nationals. They were among the first employees hired by Wally Parks the founder of the NHRA.
MY LOVE FOR THE MAN, HOT RODDING, NHRA AND THE NAVY
Eileen was born in Marysville, OH and graduated high school there. Immediately after graduating I married Bob in 1953 who passed away June 30, 2007.
Bob returned from the U.S. Navy in April 1952 whereby he met me at a local hangout for kids where he stopped in his Navy Uniform to have a hamburger and vanilla milkshake before going home to see his mother. He was driving a beautiful maroon and black 1950 Ford Crestliner. The next night he came back and asked if he could take me home and we were together until the time of his death. We were married for 54 years.
He purchased a 1932 Ford coupe which we used to go cruising in.
Bob and Eileen were married on June 5, 1953 a week after Eileen graduated from high school.
In May of 1956 we were at Stout Field at an event and Wally Parks, Founder of the National Hot Rod Association was there and he introduced himself to Bob and myself as we were a husband and wife drag team. We had one of the first embroidered uniforms with the car on the back of the shirts. There were very few women racing at that time.
Shortly after returning home from Stout Field, Bob received a letter from Wally asking us if we would be interested in being on the ground floor of building the NHRA in becoming a Regional Advisor. This was a volunteer position and was to form car clubs and get the kids off the streets. Of course he immediately accepted.
Bob was the regional advisor and I worked along side him. We kept our current jobs as this volunteer position was exactly what it was. We got a few dollars for our expenses but that was little and far between as NHRA had no money. Our office was in the corner of our kitchen.
We attended our first National Drag Race event in Kansas City in 1956. We flat towed the sedan as we did not own a trailer at this time. We drank pop out of the cooler during the day and washed out of the cooler at night. We took turns who got to sleep on the floor of the pickup and who got the seat at night.
We proceeded to go out to CA to visit the NHRA office and to spend time with Wally Parks to get to know him.
What a thrill that was. Wally was our absolute hot rodding hero. He took us to the beach the first night there to have dinner. He raced from stop light to stop light.
He was just a kid at heart and loved the sport of drag racing and hot rodding.
We continued to race the Firefly 32 Ford throughout the year. We went back to Okie City whereby by then there was a meeting of all the regional advisors from all over the country to plan the future of NHRA.
NHRA provided us a hotel room and I remember there was not a bare spot on the floor as we had so many guys sleeping on it. All of our crew along with some others if I remember right.
We started the building of Firefly II a 1939 Fiat Coupe in the winter to race in 1959 with. As with the 32 Ford we built it in our stone and dirt floor garage with a chicken coupe as a heater in the corner at our apartment in Marysville. We sold the sedan to get money to build the Fiat.
We finished the Fiat in time for the race season to start. Built it in 77 days.
As with the sedan we both drove the car at the races. At that time you could do that but of course now days you cannot.
Bob and I both worked the National Event in Detroit, MI. He was in charge of staging and I was in charge of registration of all the contestants.
Bob won the class and set top speed and low et of the class. This was the last race for either of us.
Neither of us were ever beaten in the Fiat. This was the only year we had the Fiat as the winter brought another letter from Wally asking Bob to be one of the first Division Directors for the Midwest where we resided. This consisted of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky and parts of Canada.
Of course without hesitation he accepted and while we were getting organized I continued to work at the courthouse.
We had to sell the Fiat to go to work for NHRA as we could not do both and we just knew what we wanted to do. There was no second thoughts about it.
We began running regional events for points in NHRA. I remember so plainly after running an event the week before the 2nd Nationals in Detroit, at West Salem, OH Wally called to see how we did at the event. We told him how much money NHRA got from the event which was less than $5000 if I remember right and he said to get to Detroit as soon as we could as that was all the money NHRA had and they had to pay some media bills. We also held a large car show there that year. The rest is history.
Tom Binford the owner of DA Lubicants in Indianapolis came to Detroit to try to convince Wally to move the Nationals to Indianapolis. There was a group of business men had an option on a 300 acres parcel of land and they would go public with stocks to build the facility.
Bob started to design and supervise the building of drag strips in the North Central Division.
One of his best ones was Indianapolis Raceway Park. He along with Tom Binford of DA Lubicants, Roger McCluskey of USAC, Mr. Ford of the Ford Fence Company, Roger Ward a Indy Racer and Bob met at a Howard Johnsons in Speedway, IN and on the back of a paper placemat, they drew out Raceway Park.
Bob named the Division – The Land of the Winners which it was an excellent name as we always had more winners at the National Events than any of the other divisions. We had more NHRA members, issued more licenses and permanent #’s than any other division. We were busy. Just to think I held down a full time job as well.
We continued to run the regional events and the building of Raceway Park was completed and we moved the Nationals to Indy where it has been held ever since.
Produced a 40 car show at this years Gatornationals. Mostly all new cars for this year.
Attended the Holley Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, KY in June and again hosted the Legends Tent.
Worked the TriFive Nationals in Bowling Green, KY in June where we had 2123 55-56-57 Chevrolets
This will be my 61st US Nationals in Indianapolis, IN over Labor Day Weekend.
Producing a Hot Rod Junction Car Show in the westside concourse.
Will be producing my 28th USS Salem Navy Reunion in Boston in September.
Will be going back to England to the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame in November.