Geezers gather to honor Hurst, hall of fame class

His racing trophy case includes a spot in the NHRA Division 3 Hall of Fame, a world championship and numerous speed records against some of drag racing’s top names.

But there’s one driver Fred Hurst never succeeded in defeating on the drag strip: his wife, Brenda.

Brenda drove in the Power Puff division mostly at Kil-Kare Dragway in the 1960s. They went head-to-head one time. Brenda won driving her husband’s car, while Fred finished second in a borrowed ride.

“She did beat me,” Fred said, a wide grin spreading across his face almost as fast as those classic Candy Apple red, show-car quality rides he owned. “We were just playing around on timed runs. She did good. … She brings it up once in awhile.”

She should. Bragging rights were hard to come by against “Fearless” Fred Hurst, who serves as the Grand Marshal at the Gathering of the Geezers today at Kil-Kare.

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Hurst’s most memorable victory came at the World Championships in Tulsa, Okla., in 1968. Hurst and his 426 Hemi powered ‘68 Barracuda beat Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins for the Street Eliminator title.

A year later he won the A/Gas championship at the 1969 U.S. Nationals. Car Craft magazine named him to its All-Star team as the Best Competition Driver by reader vote in 1971, topping among others fellow Daytonian “Ohio” George Montgomery.

“If you mentioned gas scoop sedans, they would know who Fred Hurst is,” said Geezers founder and organizer Ed Crowder. “They’d know he was from Dayton, Ohio, from racing and from the magazines. He won’t say it, but they knew who Freddy was.”

Hurst and Crowder met in 1956 at the old Dahio drag strip on the corner of Lutheran Church Road and Old Dayton Road, becoming acquainted partly because they both raced 1956 Fords.

“We just liked racing and going fast,” Hurst said of why he started drag racing. “I never grew up, I guess.”

Hurst, 77, highlights the seventh annual Gathering of the Geezers event today. The Hall of Fame inductions are at 2 p.m.

Hurst retired from professional racing in 1977. He last raced about six years ago.

As for that nickname? “I came up with that because he wasn’t afraid of any competition,” Crowder said. “He wasn’t afraid of anyone he had to race. He was confident he was always going to beat them.”

Of all his accomplishments, perhaps his favorite is the national event victory his son Jeff won in Columbus in 2007 to join his father as national winners. Jeff died of cancer in 2011.

“Racing with Jeff was as much fun as anything. When he won that was a big deal, especially with him being sick,” Fred Hurst said. “We went everywhere together.”

Brenda, his wife of 56 years, and son Steve will be in attendance with Hurst today at Kil-Kare.

“I wanted to pick somebody deserving of it,” Crowder said of why he tabbed Hurst as Grand Marshal. “Fred and I have been friends a long time. A long time. And it’s still going on.”

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