For more than a decade, the trio of Don Woosley, Bill Sharp and Bill Reynolds crossed the nation too many times to count with their top alcohol dragster in tow.
Along the way, they racked up seven regional championships and one national title, all with Woosley behind the wheel and many with Ale-8-1 sponsorship.
What they never pictured happening occurred earlier this month when the group was inducted into the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Bowling Green.
Being included in a hall of fame — any hall of fame — was something Woosley, Reynolds and Sharp hadn’t considered. They were too busy racing.
“We just wanted to race and we had a lot of fun,” said Sharp, who went to school with Woosley in Winchester. “We won a lot.”
Reynolds raced stock cars and worked at the Bluegrass Dragway before he was asked to help the team with the clutches in its race car in the early 1970s.
“It was one of those deals where we hit and everything worked,” Reynolds said.
The partnership continued for more than a decade. By the time Woosley stopped racing in 1988, the team accumulated seven divisional championships in NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) competition and the 1982 national title in the top alcohol dragster category.
The roles were well defined. Woosley, who passed away in December 2009, was the driver, and was known as a devastatingly quick racer. Sharp and Reynolds worked on the car and kept it tuned and maintained.
“We had a lot of fun,” Reynolds said. “We got along good together. We were very competitive. We raced to win ...
“With drag racing, you’re like Usain Bolt. You put yourself fon the edge every time you run. If you run 1,320 feet, you’ve reached your goal.”
The team scored their first national event win in 1975 at the Sports Nationals in Bowling Green, when they beat Dale Armstrong to the finish line in the final round despite running 0.12 seconds slower, a huge margin in a sport where elapsed times are now measured to the thousandth of a second.
“That race gets talked about as much as anything,” Reynolds said. “Every race has some kind of memory that went with it.”
Through his career, Woosley won 10 of the 19 final races he reached in national events. He went 29-for -40 in divisional final rounds, with seven divisional titles in nine years. The 1982 national championship, helped by four wins, was the peak.
Racing kept the three and other friends and relatives like Terry Phillips and Woosley’s brother Jim on the road for the better part of the year. For the Woosley, Sharp and Reynolds, that meant juggling their day jobs with weekend trips to California, Texas or Canada to race.
“I worked with IBM, Bill Reynolds worked at Paul Miller Ford and Don had his own place,” Sharp said. “It was tough (for) some of the races in California, some of us would take the car out and some would fly.”
They would switch for the trip home, so no one would have to use up all their vacation time on one trip, he said.
More than once, Sharp tore the dragster’s engine down inside the trailer as they drove home, just to save time.
Being honored for their success and efforts didn’t matter at the time, but it’s an honor they treasure now.
“I wish (Don) had been here to experience that,” Jim Woosley said. “He was always the guy that was cutting up and fun to be around. I sure hate he wasn’t here. He would’ve loved it.”
“I’d do it again tomorrow if I could,” Reynolds said. “I miss it a bunch.”
Contact Fred Petke at email@example.com.