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.
More 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.


RIP Pappy


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 Ivo.



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)
4 Hance Drive
Charleston, IL  61920

Tribute to CJ and Peggy Hart

Media Coverage

Video Interview with CJ in 2003


To the friends of CJ “Pappy” Hart,

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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