|Darrell Gwynn At Full Throttle
By Jim Luikens
Although hes primarily thought of as an NHRA racer, Darrell Gwynn did compete infrequently in the International Hot Rod Association. In fact, the 2003 IHRA Media Guide credits Darrell with two wins and three runner-ups in five final round appearances during his short driving career. Now Erik Arneson has written an interesting new biography on Darrell and his life in and out of racing. This is a book review of At Full Throttle, Triumphs and Tragedies from a Life Lived at Speed.
Between 1975 and 1986 I served as a regional sales representative for the Mr. Gasket Company in the Michigan, Indiana and Ohio area. During the early years of that period the NHRA had only eight events on their national tour. Two of the best however, Indy and Columbus, just happened to be in my territory.
Just like their tour today is a far cry from 1975 standards so is the manufacturers midway. Unlike todays endless string of displays, things were a lot different in the late 70s. One of the real pioneers of that era was Mr. Gasket with their Performance People trailer. The Performance People trailer was a mobile repair center and parts storehouse that attended every NHRA national event.
As a hard-core gear head I was always quick to volunteer to help out on the Performance People trailer when it came to an event in my area. Someone else that liked to hang around the Performance People trailer was Darrell Gwynn and this was where I first met him. Even before he began his driving career he always eager to learn all that he could.
From the beginning it was obvious that he was something special. His infectious humor and inquisitive nature made him a joy to have around. Obviously his driving career and later team ownership days are well known to most, including myself. What I never knew about Darrell was the story of his growing up years before he started coming to the track. I also never knew (and never asked) what happened that fateful day in England.
Eriks new book now fills in the entire story. It covers all parts of Darrells life in 160 pages and more than 225 photos. Below is an abridged version of Easter Sunday, 1990. The complete recap of that day, as well as the rest of Darrells life, can be found in the book:
In closing his preface earlier in the book Darrell says, we can never completely control the path of our lives. But we surely can strive to make the most of what were given. Good advice from someone who has suffered more than most and made the best of it. Darrell Gwynn At Full Throttle is an inspirational book and it would be a good choice on anyone's Christmas list whether or not they are a racing fan.
Darrell Gwynn: At Full Throttle ($24.95) is in bookstores now, or can be purchased directly from David Bull Publishing by calling 1-800-831-1758. Also available: The Publisher's Edition ($79.95), which is a hardcover, individually numbered and signed by Darrell, with additional photos, memorabilia, and Darrell's Top Fuel career record. Limited to 300 copies. Visit www.bullpublishing.com for more information.