Morrie Carlton always had a thing for racing cars. He and his mates would tune their daily driven vehicles and race each other on weekends at an abandoned brick works.
In 1965, a drag strip opened at Castlereigh, Sydney, and what Morrie witnessed when he attended sparked off a lifelong addiction.
Any teenager who grew up in Western Sydney in the ‘60s knew what the Brick Works was; it was a long straight concrete, private road near Homebush bay, and we used to hold drag meets down there,” remembers Morrie. He raced his Ford Customline and later a Falcon, both which had been ‘hotted’’ up; these cars dominated the races.
The Drag Strip at Castlereigh opened and caused a great deal of excitement in the local area. Morrie and his mates eventually gave in and went along to check out the action. “I think it was the 3rd race meeting that we attended, and we were gobsmacked; we thought we had fast cars, but what these guys were doing was a different ball game all together,” says Morrie.
Designing the engines and constructing several cars himself allowed Morrie to compete in a sport that was extremely expensive. His involvement was for the enjoyment and the thrill, rather than for the prize purse.
The Dragster you see in the photographs was built and maintained by Carlton.
After asking around and collecting together the funds, he acquired the rolling chassis, which was not much more than a pipe frame. He set about modifying it to fit his needs, which included making it higher, as the previous owner was of a somewhat shorter stature.“ I did most of the construction myself and as I worked a lot of night shifts at the ABC as a technician, it allowed me time during the day to tinker and get the parts I needed,” recalls Carlton.
“Back in those days we raced monthly, and it took almost the entire time between races to maintain the car. That was the key to doing well – preparation,” Morrie points out. And the cars needed to be well prepared, with the fastest time that Carlton recorded in the dragster a cracking 296.15 km/h. These racers were supercharged demons with 1,000 hp, so it was important to keep them moving in a straight line.
The Dragster has recently been fully restored by Ross Preen from Orange, even down to having the original stickers remade. Preen, a racing enthusiast, had the racer flown over to the USA last year for the largest retro drag racing show held in Bakersfield.
He invited Morrie to tag along and give the car a rev or two for the onlookers.