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  1. #1

    Post 12.27 seconds at 114.08 m.p.h.

    Americana Vol. 4 No. 2 / 1968 Four barreling - By Pete Waldmeir.

    Kempton proves drag racing's not just for kids.

    If you still think drag racing is strictly for kids, check Californian Dave Kempton's times on the strip.

    In his first season behind the wheel of his 1968 AMX, Kempton, a 39 year old father of three from Arcadia, California, has been turning consistent quarter miles at 114-plus miles an hour. And he says the speeds will go even higher next year when he shakes out the rest of the wrinkles.

    Kempton is the latest of the hot drag racers to switch to American Motors' power. His AMX is owned and backed by the Southern California Dealers Association.

    "I switched to the AMX last spring," Kempton explained, "because I had driven one a few times and I was impressed with the durability of the car.

    "It's a great street dragger. That's where you can get the feel of it best.

    "We're just getting started with the AMX this year. We'll surprise a lot of people next season."

    Kempton has the background to pull surprises. A drag racer since 1957, he has a list of victories that is longer than a jet runway. He won his class five times (1963‑65‑66‑67‑68) in the National Hot Rod Association's (NHRA) Winternationals at Pomona, California.

    He also won the Stock Eliminator title in 1964 at the Winternationals; the Class and Stock Eliminator trophies in 1966 at Indianapolis and the Division 7 point title in 1964.

    "I quit saving my trophies," Kempton smiled. "We stopped counting after 400. I had them in the attic, in the garage, under the porch everywhere. It got to be too much for my wife to dust.

    "Now we just keep the big ones and give the rest away."

    Despite his impressive collection of hardware, Kempton is not a full-time drag racer. He and mechanic Jack Bayer, who tooled up his 390 cubic inch automatic for the 1968 AMX, work on the car evenings and on weekends.

    Kempton works 40 hours a week putting up poster billboards in the Los Angeles area. "I do about 14 boards a day," he explained. "But there's always some time left for the track."

    Even his attractive wife, Norma, has an interest in racing. The couple has three children - daughters Christina, 19, and Laura Lee, 11, and a son, Mark, 17. Norma drove her own car for a couple of years, long enough to collect 18 trophies of her own.

    But son Mark gets the family sedan only on Saturday nights.

    "I don't want Mark to have a car until he finishes high school," Kempton said. "They take a boy's mind off his studies."

    Kempton works part-time at the Irwindale, Calif., drag strip. So do his wife and son.

    "Norma has worked in the tower, keeping track of the cars and as an assistant timer," Kempton explained. "And Mark has been a handyman around the track for four years. It's good for him to learn racing that way."

    Mark's dad is still learning, too.

    "Jack Bayer and I took the 1968 AMX everywhere we could last summer," Kempton said. "We started out turning the quarter-mile in 13:04 seconds and eventually got it down to a consistent 12:30. That's not bad for the first year with an entirely new car”.

    "We blew off a lot of hot‑shots along the way, too. We made some drivers sit up and take notice."

    Kempton's 1968 AMX sported a Clay Smith cam, Edelbrock manifold, and stock Carter carb. It weighed in at 3,178 pounds. Running in SS/ F Automatic competition at the Orange County Raceway, Kempton turned the quarter in 12.27 seconds for 114.08 m.p.h.

    "Like I said, we were just getting started," Kempton grinned. "There's a lot to this car. It'll go faster."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Lufkin, Texas USA

    Default Javelin AMC Drag Racer

    Locally to me (Lufkin, Texas) there is a '71 AMX that was once an AMC Trans Am race car and has been converted to a Drag Racer. The engine was built by Herman Lewis and is the most impressive AMC engine I have personally ever seen. He is running two 1050 CC Holly Dominator Carbs. Hopefully he'll work out the bugs in it sometime this summer and we can see what it is capable of. Last Friday at the local drag strip he turned a best ET of 10.39 and a best top speed of 133 MPH.

    He is a webpage all about the car complete with a link to Herman Lewis' website:

    I just love to see AMC high performance using true AMC engines. It sure is disappointing when I see a nice Javelin and then notice a Chevy engine under the hood.'77 Gremlin
    Currently drive a '77 Gremlin
    I have owned:
    '70 Mark Donohue SST Javelin; '72 Gremlin X; '73 Pierre Cardin AMX; '76 Hornet Sportabout

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