By 1963 Drag News was ensconced
as drag racing's 'Bible' and appeared set to continue unchallenged.
And it might not have been were it not for a kid from South San
Gabriel named Phil Bellomy who thought he could do it better.
And for a little over three years,he did.
Bellomy partnered up with well-known
track photographer Jim Kelly and gained the generous support
of So. Cal. printer Carl Bennitt,who made possible the first
and subsequent issues of Drag Sport Illustrated (DSI).
Later, support was given by Lee Hallerberg.
DSI was all about pictures, lots
of great pictures. Reporting the weekend's races was important,
but secondary to drama and impact.It was a week-in, week-out
visual treat made possible by high grade Electrabrite newsprint,
in stark contrast to Drag News' less expensive paper.
DSI was also about recognizing
the talented contributors with by-lines and photo credits, something
that was missing frequently in other publications.
In those days, most track photographers
and writers worked for nothing or almost nothing, because they
loved the sport. Recognition was about all they could look forward
to,and in DSI they got it.
Drag Sport showcased the talents
of photographers like Kelly,Dave Shipman, Tim Marshall, Bill
Turney, Charles Strutt, Bellomy himself and others.
From the time the first issue
of Drag Sport rolled off the presses on March 3, 1963, they and
writers like Ralph Guldahl, Dave Wallace,Forrest Bond, Mike Kotowski
and Steve Gibbs made it happen, week after week.
Within a few short months DSI
was a must-have weekly newspaper at tracks from coast to coast.
The issues ranged from 12 pages to 30 pages and they all trumped
Drag News in the number of photos and quality of publication.
The main focus was always on dragsters, but DSI gave a ton of
coverage to all the other classes, from stockers to gassers,
from motorcycles to alterds.
From Washington to Florida, DSI was there.
In addition to better photo reproduction,
Drag Sport pioneered a magazine format among weeklies in lat
1964, with 20 to 30 pages every week.
In July of 1966 DSI was abruptly
shut down. This was a huge loss to racers and fans alike but
not so much for Drag News. Two other publications using the DSI
format popped up but didn't grab the fans that DSI had. Both
Drag Digest and Drag West folded within a year. However, they
will both be available on CD down the road.
The CDs are in the PDF format
and are viewed in Adobe Reader. This is the same format the Drag
News collection was released in and allows the viewer to adjust
the size to a comfortable viewing level to their taste. The photo
quality is 100% better than the Drag News discs and every effort
has being taken to make each and every page as viewable/readable
as possible including blocking a lot of the news print ink bleed.
Keeping in mind that these "newspapers" are nearly
50 years old one can only imagine the care being taken.
More samples, click the links
below to view the very first issue of DSI and imagine that the
quality only gets better from there. There is also a samle of
the publication when it went to a book format in late 1964.