A celebration of life
for C.J. "Pappy" Hart
who passed away
on June 26, 2004.
Drag racing lost another longtime
friend when pioneer C.J. "Pappy" Hart passed away at
age 93. In 1950, he and his late wife, Peggy
were the founders of the Santa Ana Drag Strip on an unused runway
at the Orange County Airport (where John Wayne Airport is now
located), in Orange County, California. Although Goleta was the
first dragstrip of record, it was C.J. Hart who created the very
first professional dragstrip that charged admission. Young people from all over the country
heard about this unique form of racing and came out to California
to watch how the races were organized. Within months of the first
dragraces at the old airbase, timing associations had sprung
up all over the nation, and organized drag racing on safe and
sanctioned dragstrips was born. His legend and indelible imprint
on our sport grew from there including overseeing and constantly
improving the most famous drag strip of all time - Lions in Long
Beach, CA. "Pappy" was known to legions of drag racing
fans as the one of the grand old men of the sport. In his later
years, Hart was a member of the NHRA Safety Safari, traveling
the country and greeting well wishers at every stop.
about CJ HERE
Services were held Thursday,
July 1, 2004 at the Waverley Church in Santa Ana, CA
As expected, it was SRO to say
goodbye to Pappy. For the most part this page will just be photos
(with little commentary) from the day so the many of us who were
unable to attend can somehow feel a part of it. As you look at
the photos, just remember one of CJs last lines, "I've waited
24 years. I'm going to see Peggy." And he did.
The church was overloaded with
family and friends, the sun was out and it was a perfect day
to say goodbye to Pappy. I was honored to be a pal bearer along
with Larry Sutton, Doug Kruse, Dave Wallace, one of Pappy's grandsons
and a close friend. We fired up the dragster at the grave site
and that is when many let the tears go...not from the nitro...but
they knew Pappy was now in a better place with Peggy. The minister
talked about how in a military funeral a 21 gun salute was the
final goodbye...but for Pappy it would be 8 cylinders of Hemi
barking with nitro. It was perfect! Mr. Briggs (and Rod McCarrell)
were kind enough to come and shoot the photos you see here on
WDIFL so all of you can share in the closure that happened that
day. It was an afternoon I will never forget...I really loved
and respected Pappy....as thousands of others I'm sure. My personal
thanks to my crew, Ronnie Rapp and Alex Mikkelsen for helping
make this such a good day for all.
Pappy would have loved the first
thing you saw in front of the church - a Top Fuel dragster decorated
in a patrotic theme as he would have wanted it.
The Ewald Bros. "BankAmericar"
was there as a tribute to what CJ lived for and to supply a "21
gun salute" (or an 8 cylinder salute) at the end of the
grave site services.
If the value of ones life can
be measured by how many people are effected by your passing then
CJ Hart had a full vault. Here are just some of the people who
came to pay their final respects. As you will see, standard "funeral"
dress was not required as folks showed up in everything from
T-shirts and jeans to black suits.
The church service was just the
way CJ wanted it - short and sweet.
The preacher (a racer
himself) gave a fitting eulogy and on his signal ....
The 392 was lit and 94% nitro
filled the air with a sound Pappy heard thousands of times in
his life. Then they stepped back and left the driverless dragster
to do it's salute to the father of drag racing.
Ronnie Rapp checked his watch
as the engine would only run for 60 seconds...A minute of silence
- drag racer style.
After the car was shut off, Jerry
Hart said his final goodbye to his Dad.
At the end the crowd mingled,
looked at the car and spent time telling CJ stories.
These three legends typify the
extended family Pappy had. Bob Muravez, Glen Stokey and Tommy
Pappy requested that
if you would like to make a contribution, that he would be honored
if you remember: Drag Racing Association of Women (DRAW)
to CJ and Peggy Hart
with CJ in 2003
4 Hance Drive
Charleston, IL 61920
To the friends of CJ Pappy
Thank you from the bottom of
our hearts to the many friends of our father, CJ Pappy
Hart. Many people from the Motorsports World attended his funeral
and we appreciate that very much.
We received hundreds of e-mails
telling us stories of times you had with Pappy. We're proud to
have shared this wonderful man with so many appreciative people
who thanked him for having touched their lives.
To all of you, who have either
attended the funeral, sent flowers and cards, sent contributions
to DRAW (Drag Racers Association of Women), words cannot express
the gratitude we feel about your love and respect for Pappy.
We also want to thank the many
visitors who came to visit Pappy in the hospitals and the phone
calls from his buddys were also appreciated. We want to thank
the people who spoke at the funeral service, the guys who brought
out their vintage automobiles to escort him to his final resting
place, and a very special thanks to John Ewald for sending Pappy
off with an eight cylinder salute with his Top Fuel Dragster.
Thank you all,
Jerry Hart and the entire Hart Family
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