Hello, Hesperia! This month I am celebrating five years with the Hesperia Star. I can't believe where the time has gone and how much I've enjoyed being a part of the Star.
I decided to honor a couple of my friends that own a dragster. The name of it is the Soul Train Gang, owned by James and Janice Sloan of Hesperia. It is a nostalgic dragster which they've owned for five years. It has a 540 cubic-inch engine and it has a 225-inch long wheelbase. I saw the car about a month ago. It's gorgeous and James' garage is immaculate. They have a driver and the pit crew consists of Tommy T. Matson, Maurice Hopes, and yes, Janice Sloan — James' wife.
"I do not have sponsors to race the car — you need about $250,000 worth of sponsorship," James told me. "It costs $4 to $5 million to run a professional top fuel car for a season and it's called the 22 car series. It's a very expensive hobby".
James said the motor alone runs about $65,000 and the weld wheels (B locks for safety) can be as high as $3,000 a pair. He said he has invested $100,000 to $150,000 in the car.
"I have a 45 foot trailer to haul the race car in and it also carries a golf cart to take the dragster to the starting line and bring back after the race," he said. "It's not feasible to drive the dragster back."
James spends from $1,500 to $2,000 a race. You always spend more than you win — that's why it's a hobby without sponsors. They've raced at Sacramento and Bakersfield, and hope to race at Bowling Green, Kentucky and Indianapolis. Right now, James is rebuilding the car for future races. They race in the NHRA's Heritage Series. There are 32 cars and go 16, eight, four, and then the final two. The winner receives approximately $1,200. The race is a quarter mile and elapsed time is seven seconds. James has averaged 190 miles per hour in those seven seconds.
James said he got his first car at 14 and has loved drag racing ever since.
"I have many memories when I was 16 racing at the Colton Drag strip (flag starts)," he said. "I love the sport, and that's for the last 49 to 50 years."
James buys and sells new and used parts for 1964-1972 Chevelles and El Caminos. He also does complete restoration on the same years of cars.
James and Janice are a husband and wife team and work together very well. In fact, they have a 1966 Chevelle and 1966 El Camino that they restored together that are identical down to the smallest part.
I've known Janice for 50 years when she lived in Bloomington and I lived in Colton. She is now a counselor at Apple Valley High School and they have lived in Hesperia 23 years.
To James and Janice: Thank you so much for letting me share your beautiful race car and facts with Hesperia. I myself love race cars but especially classic cars. When driving one, there's nothing like it!
Thanks again to Beau and Sharon for putting up with me. Sorry, I still don't like computers, but I do love people, family and life!