R.I.P. HARRY SCHMIDT
On a sunny Saturday afternoon back in 1972, a bright eyed 12 year old rode his bicycle from his house to the Winn-Dixie shopping center on Highway 61 to view something very special. There, glistening in the sun, was the Blue Max top fuel funny car. Something that was only seen in magazines was poised on the rear of it's open transporter. It was on display to drum up publicity for it's meet at LaPlace Dragway. A couple of teen-agers were there talking with whom I assumed was the driver in a Blue Max t-shirt. I drummed up enough nerve to ask the guy why were these cars called "funny cars"? "Well," he started to say like he's answered this question a thousand times before," most people, when they see one of these hot rods, they think they look funny, and I guess the name stuck." Wow. he spoke to me.
Fast-forward to 2006, I'm working at a bicycle retailer in Dallas, Texas. An older, grizzled, but distinguished-looking gentleman is shopping for some mountain-biking shoes. We strike up a conservation about different bikes and frame materials and while I'm fitting him for his shoes, he tells me he used to own a funny car. I muttered something like "Really"? as the hair stood up on my arms. He said, "Yeah, remember the Blue Max"?
Oh, of course I remember the Blue Max, I told him. Trying to impress him with my knowledge I asked if he was Raymond Beadle. "No, Raymond drove for me. I'm Harry Schmidt". Oh shit, I muttered some sort of apology and went on to tell him I remember when it came to LaPlace Dragway. I remember staring at it in the shopping center parking lot the Saturday before the drags. I told him I remember asking one of the guys there why do they call them funny cars.
"That was you"? he asked.