Andre Johnson from Parkes is well known and well respected in the central west in drag racing circles. He's been around a while too, having had his first taste of drag racing way back in 1968.
It's sometimes hard to know exactly where to start with a story like this but for Andre it just keeps going back. Let’s begin with 10-15 years ago when Andre stumbled across the dragster lying on its side in pieces in a paddock at Narromine.
He was immediately drawn to it with memories of the dragsters of his day. When he eventually acquired it he discovered it had originally belonged to local drag racing legend Brian Keegan.
I usually get off the line in second gear then hit third but I reckon there's enough punch to get off the line in topAndre Johnson
Ironically, Andre recalls drooling over Brian's iconic drag racing FJ called Keegans Kustom at his very first drag meet.
Keegan grew up in Orange and built and raced the FJ in the late 60's becoming the first Holden to run a 14 second quarter mile, then a 13 second and then further a 12 second time only to be beaten on the 11 second by Ron Harrop whose name is now behind Harrop Superchargers.
This is when the dragster evolved. Brian hand built the dragster as a light weight machine to see how quick the motor in his FJ could really go and soon ran a flat 10 second time at 140 mph (225 km/h).
After hanging the dragster in the roof of his shed for a few years, Andre started piecing it together three years ago. It now runs a 210 cubic inch Holden six cylinder engine with a worked head, cam and extractors and triple S.U. carburettors. There's a three speed Ford Mainline gearbox and 13 inch Firestone racing tyres on 11 inch wide rims handmade by Brian Keegan.
"The tyres are a bit old now for racing so I turn the wheels on the track with another set of rims and treads" Andre said. "I usually get off the line in second gear then hit third but I reckon there's enough punch to get off the line in top.”
Andre is yet to complete a run since the rebuild but he reckons it'll pull an easy 11 second time.
Sadly Brian Keegan passed away a few years ago in his eighties. Andre recently had the dragster on display at Gnoo Blas car show in Orange with a collection of Keegan's race cars including Brian's original FJ, Keegans Kustom, which sporned the dragster way back in 1968.