For nearly two decades, traditional hot rods and racecars from across the country have converged in Asbury, Missouri, in mid-August for the H.A.M.B. Drags. This daylong event is hosted by The Jalopy Journal and is part reunion, part drag race and always action-packed. It’s been a few years since we’ve made the trek out to Mo-Kan Dragway, but this time I was there, camera in hand, to take it all in.
Although the races aren’t until Saturday, the nearby town of Joplin comes to life the night before with plenty of cruising and parking lot fun. Even though the party dips deep into the early morning hours, everyone is primed and ready to go the following morning. With the sun high and the humidity higher, I found myself pressed against the steel guardrail as everything from wheelstanding Gassers to tire-smoking slingshots ripped by.
In between rounds, I walked through the pits and spotted even more traditional machines. A straight-axle ’32 Chevy five-window. A handful of overpowered Anglias. A blown FE-powered Model A that was driven to the track and ran in the 10s. A Model A roadster that was built in 1959 and hasn’t changed since. A Willys Jeep Altered-turned-taco truck (complete with free tacos!) Some competitors lounged in lawn chairs awaiting their next run, while others feverishly made repairs so they could make it to the staging lanes. From four bangers and flatheads to fuel burning Hemis, the H.A.M.B. Drags had the bases covered.
But it wasn’t all fun and games; by the end of the races on Saturday I had to come up with our Rodder’s Journal pick. When the dust settled, I selected Joe Russell’s ’60s style Model A roadster from Sioux City, Iowa. There’s a whole lot to like on the freshly finished Ford, but the fact that he drove it 1,000 miles round trip and raced it really sealed the deal.
We know these old cars can be unpredictable, and Joe got quite the scare when his piecrust slick shredded on his drive down to Missouri. Although this destroyed the fender, he was able to find a replacement at a swap meet and get a new tire installed. No problem. Throughout the weekend, he worked out a few other mechanical bugs and we were happy to hear he made it back safely. Joe’s motto? “Drive. BREAK. Repeat!” Sounds good to us.
With another H.A.M.B. Drags in the books, we’re already thinking about a return trip for 2019. In the meantime, here’s a glimpse into the action from down on the Asbury asphalt. We’ll see you next year! —Joey Ukrop