26 NOV 2011 - ANFA Honours Pioneers of Drag Racing
Wendy & Graeme Cowin, Peter Keegan, Eddie Thomas, Brian Keegan, Dave & Jan Cook
(Bob Dunn absent)
The Australian Nostalgia Fuel Association (ANFA) honoured its first group of Pioneers in a ceremony at Sydney Dragway on Saturday, November 19th, the evening before the running of the inaugural Rocket Retro Drags and Nitro Fest. The awards were sponsored by Dragster Australia.
Included amongst those who were the recipients of the prestigious plaques were Graeme and Wendy Cowin, Eddie Thomas, Brian Keegan, Peter Keegan and David and Jan Cook.
The awards were voted on by all members of ANFA following nominations by all members of the group.
Graeme andWendy Cowin were honoured for their pioneering racing with a series of altereds, starting out with a Fiat Topolino in 1967 and triumphing with the first fuel altered to runs seven-second times and exceed 200mph in the mid-1970s. The pair went on to a storied career in nitro Funny Cars, including several seasons of competition in the USA, and in Top Fuel dragsters, during which they became the first Australians to run a four-second time.
Eddie Thomas did not race for long – just 1962 to 1968 – but in that time he became the first to run a 10-second time, a 9-second time and an 8-second time, the first to run a parachute, to suffer a fire and the first to use a firesuit. He forged a path followed by almost every drag racer since.
Brian Keegan can be considered one of the true drag racing pioneers in Australia, having built one of the first dragsters in the nation in 1958, before going onto a much rewarded career in drag racing sedans, with the first Holden 6 to run both 13-second and 12-second times.
Brother Peter Keegan was equally as successful, starting his racing in 1970 in a blown 2 litre VW Beetle, which also saw action on hillclimbs, circuits and sprints. The car was a huge success, placing in the final’s at 21 out of its first 28 race meetings, setting world records and becoming the quickest Gas car in the nation. In 1977 he was voted Sportsman of the Year in his home town of Orange. Peter stopped racing in 1982.
David Cook became hooked on drag racing at the Dragfest tour by six touring American dragsters in 1966 and converted an interest in photography into a career as a full time writer and photographer in drag racing before being offered the position of editor on the Rodsports magazine in 1974. With wife Jan, they launched Dragster Australia magazine in 1979, and continued publishing it until selling it in 2002 to devote all their time to the design and building of Sydney Dragway, on which David had been one of the major negotiators and proponents in negotiations with the NSW Government. David is now a freelance journalist and historian of the sport.
Bobby Dunn, who was unable to attend the ceremony, began his racing in 1965 with a Fiat Topolino altered and continued on to race his “Terrifying T” fuel altered in the mid-1970s before going on to a stellar career in nitro Funny Cars.
Several current and former legends of the sport were on hand to present the awards, those being Chuck May, Bob Honeybrook, Geoff Paradise, Benny Gatt and Bob Shepherd.
Each of the honourees received a plaque commemorating their achievements and a matching stainless steel plaque which will be permanently affixed to the Sydney Dragway control tower to mark the occasion.