Monday, June 2, 2008

"No Big Thing" - Hot Rod Vespa

In an evening of Funny Cars, rails, gassers and "race what you brung" cars -- the crowd at US30 dragway was waiting to see something different...waiting to see if George Brugos would be able to keep his bracket racer, "No Big Thing" under control. And on those nights, from 1967 until the track closed in 1981, an unlikely dragster would rumble up to the starting line -- running a 454 cubic inch V8, and transferring power to the track through a 1959 Oldsmobile rear end and 1967 American Racing alloy wheels mounted with 15 inch wide, 32 inch high rear tires. The body of the car was hinged to flip up for access to the engine.

This car could best be described as a mouse that roared, but it was really a 1960 Vespa on steroids. Arguably yesteryear's most famous bracket racer.

Barry Reed, a former drag racer who now runs an auto parts store and videotapes drag races for television productions, is now the owner of this piece of drag racing history. The car isn't racing now, "It needs some front end work before it can be raced again," says Reed, but it is regularly displayed at meets and drag races.

Originally owned by Ringling Brothers Circus, the little Vespa was turned into a giant-killer by George Brugos in 1966. It passed through several owners after the closing of US30, until it was acquired by Reed. Reed raced it once in an exhibition, then put the car on the display circuit.

Story originally published in MINUTIA Issue 15, Number 3.
(Click the photo to be taken to a video of "No Big Thing" at US30.)


Mike Annen said...

As a child, I was fascinated with cars (still am) and could identify cars really before I could speak. My dad would entertain his friends in a parking lot and ask me to point out a Buick or a Jaguar i.e.. Sometimes the car wouldn't be in plain view and I had to look around. I was born in late 1958 so I had the coolest cars to learn from. The reason I tell you this is because I only went to the circus once as a child and remember this very Vespa as their clown car in Ringlings circus in, I believe, 1964. Clown after clown poured out of that car and I literally said to myself, "I'll never forget this!"

cmfic57 said...

Yep. I live in kenosha Wi, and this used to be parked in the driveway of a house nw of 30th avenue and 60th street for a number of years. I recall seeing it race at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wi, and then after it stopped, and was seen sitting in that driveway for so long, then it suddenly vanished. It was def a site to see and one I will never forget! Glad to see it being saved as a part of drag racing history! THANK YOU!