ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
It doesn’t take long to realize this family isn’t typical, but the cohesiveness and unity it’s developed over the past 12 years is as strong as any you’ll find.
In this case, the family is affectionately known as the “Brew Crew” and the family patriarch is Peabody’s Doc Carson.
Members of Carson’s extended “family” are Jason Brooks and Waylon Carson of Peabody and David Naylor of Wichita, and their baby happens to be a 1970 Ford Maverick.
But this Maverick isn’t your typical Detroit production model.
“It has about 500 horsepower with a 302-cubic-inch small-block engine,” Carson said. “The suspension has been altered for better grip in the back. It’s all done and set up for racing.”
Carson, whose real name is Elmer-“Let me tell you, it’s not easy growing up with the name Elmer,” he says-has been racing cars for almost 25 years.
“I got started when I bought my first car, a ’65 Cyclone,” Carson said. “I really got started racing illegally, running on the streets, but that got too dangerous. So I took it to the track and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Doc Carson is the car owner and driver. Waylon Carson and Brooks assist in the pits and Naylor is the public relations director.
“We’re his crew,” said Brooks, a Butler County Vo-Tech graduate in auto technology, said. “We do all the trouble shooting and mechanicing. If anything goes wrong, we fix it.”
Sporting 5.50/15 tires on the front and 31.0/13-15 racing slicks on the rear, Carson has blazed his way to a 10.97 second quarter-mile, or 128 mph.
“The adrenaline rush is really something,” Carson said. “We have enough power that we’ve lifted the front end of the car off the ground before, but that’s not a problem as long as your car runs straight.”
That Carson owns the Maverick is a story in itself.
“This car was originally sitting in Hesston when I worked over there, but I didn’t have the money to buy it then,” Carson said. “Dave called me back in about 1994 and told me about a car that already had a roll bar in it, so we flew down there.
“When I saw it, I told the guys the car looked familiar,” Carson continued. “Someone else had bought it and ran it for awhile. But after 15 years, I found it again.”
Asked about the value of the car, Carson hesitated before answering.
“I wouldn’t sell this car,” he finally said. “With all the labor and the sentimental attachments, I just wouldn’t sell it.
“It’s a labor of love-that’s what I call it,” he added. “If I was to build another car, I’d probably still keep this one.”
A machine operator by trade, Carson looks forward to the weekend to satisfy his need for speed.
“We do this summer through fall,” Carson said. “We race in Oklahoma, Topeka, Great Bend and what we consider our home track, which is Wichita’s International Raceway. Racing is what I go to work for everyday.”
Running in the pro class, Carson takes advantage of the latest safety features as he rockets down the 1,320-foot track.
“You have to have a roll bar in the car-you just have to have that,” he said. “We also carry a fire extinguisher, wear a safety harness, and I wear a fire jacket and helmet.
“In this class, those are regulations that have to be applied to each car and each driver.”
Carson said there’s two distinct ways to run the quarter-mile race.
“One is just a quarter mile, standing-start race and whoever gets there first wins,” he said. “The other is bracket racing.”
In bracket racing, cars have their average quarter-mile time posted on their car.
Depending on the difference between the times of the two cars.