Drag Illustrated Issue 177, July / August 2022 | Page 81


Trusty Steed

A half-century in , Francis Reynolds Jr .’ s ’ 70 Maverick still gets the job done • By Van Abernethy

When people ask Francis Reynolds Jr . how many times his classy 1970 Ford Maverick has been down the track , Reynolds studies on the question for a moment before usually answering “ A lot ” – accompanied with a hearty laugh .

In 2022 , Reynolds celebrates 53 years of drag racing ... 51 of them have been behind the wheel of his vintage Maverick . Prior to that , he was tagging along with his father and watching him race at tracks such as Colonial Beach and Sumerduck , both in Virginia . “ Dad raced a 1961 Ford Station Wagon , and also a 1956 Ford that he bought for 50 bucks !” recalls Reynolds . It was behind the wheel of the classy ‘ 56 Ford that Reynolds made his first-ever pass down a dragstrip at Colonial Beach in 1969 soon after he got his driver ’ s license .
Reynolds always knew that drag racing was in his blood , so he began saving his money to buy
his own car , and soon afterwards the Maverick entered the picture . In June of 1971 , he traveled to Lexington Park , Maryland , where a car dealership was located , and there sat the Maverick ( just one year old at the time ) with 12,000 miles on the odometer . A deal was struck for the sum of $ 1,200 , and Reynolds drove off in the 6-cylinder Maverick .
“ I bought the car midweek and then took it to a service stations – not a gas station – we actually worked on cars back in those days ,” he laughs . They put the Maverick on a lift and cut off the muffler , and a local guy made him a couple of tow hooks . The following Sunday he was at Colonial Beach racing the car , and it ’ s been on the track ever since .
Back in those days , Stock Eliminator classes were all that was available . “ You ’ d run your class , win a trophy and go home ,” he remembers .
Among the most entertaining stories Reynolds
tells from the early days was the night he got into the money rounds for the first time . Reynolds is a life-long native of southern Maryland , and usually went south to Virginia to race , but on this particular occasion he traveled north to Capitol Raceway in Crofton , Maryland . Soon after arriving , they informed Reynolds that he had to have a helmet to race , which was a problem since he didn ’ t even own one . “ Back home you didn ’ t have to have a helmet at the tracks I raced at ,” he laughs .
Reynolds asked around and nobody had an extra helmet . Things were looking pretty bleak when suddenly he spotted a man and woman riding in on a motorcycle . “ I went up to this perfect stranger and asked him if I could borrow his helmet and he said I could !” As fate would have it , Reynolds began stringing together win after win on a track he ’ d never raced , all while wearing a stranger ’ s helmet .
“ I felt bad because this went on until close to
July / August 2022
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