Officially, Vaughan Stevens started the Gasser Guys drag races six years ago, but really, it started back in 1964, when he was barely out of high school.

In 1964, Stevens and some of his friends started drag racing at the airport in Norridgewock. With the races he’s organized at Winterport Dragway over the last six years, Stevens has done his best to bring that era back, minus Ed Sullivan and a Beatles reunion.

“I kind of just want to recapture that part of my life,” Stevens, 68 and an Augusta native, said.

Next weekend, Aug. 10-11, Stevens will host the Gasser Guys midseason championships at Winterport Dragway. In a sport that’s changed with the day’s technology, Stevens’ old school approach is welcome and maintains a strong following.

The things that were important to us when we were young are the things we carry in our hearts for the rest of our lives. For Stevens, it was those days almost 50 years ago racing on the airstrips built for the war effort of the 1940s.

Winterport Dragway is one of those old airstrips, the kind that gave birth to drag racing.

“It’s probably one of only a handful in the country,” Stevens said.

Imagine his pleasure when Stevens learned there were so many other guys also with a fondness for those races. Imagine his pleasure when Stevens learned there was enough interest in bringing that old school drag racing back.

“It’s become a huge social gathering,” Stevens said.

Once a month, between June and October, Stevens and the Gasser Guys will race at Winterport. Stevens estimated he’ll have at least 100 racers show up for next week’s event.

“We get guys who will come up from Massachusetts or Rhode Island once a month,” Stevens said.

To race with the Gasser Guys, your car must be a model year older than 1974. That year seems arbitrary, but Stevens put some thought into selecting 1974 as the cutoff.

“’74 is the year I picked because that’s the year the government smog regulations got to be pretty strict,” Stevens said.

Many of the cars in the Gasser Guys races are from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Stevens won’t race himself, his car won’t be ready until September. When he races, Stevens will be behind the wheel of a 1931 Model A Ford, with a 512 cubic inch Cadillac V8 engine. It’s 520 horsepower, Stevens said. Although he said he gets plenty of enjoyment just organizing and putting on the Gasser Guys events, the excitement in his voice says he can’t wait to race.

“I get excited just seeing old friends,” Stevens said.

On Friday, the Gasser Guys will have time trials. On Saturday, they’ll compete in 18 classes.

“We have a place for everybody, no matter how fast you are,” Stevens said.

Most racers are in their 40s and 50s. The oldest is 75, Stevens said. When they drive, they all feel 18 again. Stevens certainly does.

They’ll race for pride, for fun and for the camaraderie of the weekend. There’s no money at stake, Stevens said, just trophies.

“It’s just a real good time,” Stevens said.

These cars can hit 130 miles per hour in 660 feet. At that speed, Stevens is slowing down and enjoying life.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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