Mike Smith’s 1929 Ford has a bored-out Mercury flathead V8 with period-correct, braided cloth-covered spark plug wires. © Photograph by Skip Peterson

One man’s dream: 10th Gathering of the Geezers is Aug. 18

Ed Crowder competed at the first race at Kil-Kare Dragway in August of 1959 and won his class and a trophy. Fifty-nine years later, he’ll be at Kil-Kare Aug. 18, hosting the 10th annual “Gathering of the Geezers.” If you like “old school cool”, you’ll want to be there, too. The dragway is at 1166 Dayton-Xenia Road, Beavercreek.

“I love drag racing, it’s my thing,” the 81-year-old Beavercreek resident said recently.

Crowder started racing at Dahio Dragstrip, an airport dragstrip between Trotwood and New Lebanon, moved to Kil-Kare and then became the dragway manager in 1960.

“I ran the dragstrip until 1975, then left for a while, but it never gets out of your system,” Crowder added.

He has continued to be involved at the track in some capacity since it opened.

He started the Gathering of the Geezers to bring back the halcyon days of the dragstrip, and the aura surrounding the event is just that – no rear-engine dragsters, mostly stock cars and some altereds, gassers and front-engine dragsters. Nothing newer than a 1988 model can run, and cars show up in droves.

“I’ll have between 250 and 300 cars racing,” Crowder said.

There’s also a car show, and it attracts about the same number of entries.

“It’s all heads-up racing. Like the old days, the first guy to the finish line wins. Plus, we have some neat extras: we’ll have a burnout contest this year and we’ll offer rides in the racecars.

“I also have my favorite class, the Grandpa Eliminator. It’s only open to guys over 55 and I flag them off the starting line like I used to do. It’s like a giant drag racing reunion,” Crowder added.

It’s been a tough year for Crowder, who watched his home and garage go up in flames last October.

“We’ve lived there for 49 years, and all I could do was watch as everything burned,” he explained. “I lost two cars: 1956 and 1960 Cadillacs, all my memorabilia. I had license plates from every state on the walls of the garage, but you know, Anne and I weren’t injured, so you just start over.

“Each year it gets a little harder and I wonder if I’m going to do the Geezers again, but after the fire, there was no doubt. It keeps me busy and I love it. Plus, things are moving forward.

“I bought a ’34 Ford street rod and a ’57 Chevy with a new crate motor so I’ve got a couple cars again, and I’m getting ready to start looking for license plates, too,” he said.

Longtime local racing engine builder Jerry Ault will be honored as the grand marshal of the gathering, and 15 new members of the Kil-Kare Dragway Hall of Fame will be inducted on the starting line.

The gates will open at 8 a.m. Timed runs will begin at 10 a.m. and racing will start at 2 p.m. The car show is open to cars of any year, with trophies to the top 50 show cars. To learn more, call 937-409-3087 or go online to www.kilkare.com