By Tim Glover
In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Don Strickland had several street cars, thanks to inspiration from his brother, Billy, who also had several nice cars. He raced a little, but not seriously. However, shortly after he married his wife, Sherry, his racing career began to take off. He and his wife Sherry will be married for 33 years in May, 2005. "She’s put up with a lot of drag racing for the past 33 years," he added.
Strickland’s family has been involved with racing since they were little. "We carried the kids to races everywhere. We either carried them with us or they stayed home with Sherry." They have three children, sons Greg and Jeff and daughter Carey. Greg is interested in golf, and Carey doesn’t race either. However, Strickland’s youngest son, Jeff, has enjoyed bracket racing from the beginning. In fact, Jeff won his first $5K race at Huntsville very shortly after the ink dried on his driver’s license. About golf, Strickland added, "We all do that. We play every time we get a chance."
His first race car was a 1965 Chevelle. He has been through several cars since then, and his current collection includes four race cars. There are two Undercover dragsters (one for him and one for Jeff), a ’67 Nova Super Street car (for Don) and a ’95 Camaro stocker for Jeff.
Don and Jeff run their family business, an auto repair shop and tire store, Strickland Tire, which handles minor repair work and selling tires. The shop has been around for 24 years, but it was closed for three years, from 2001 to 2004, when the Stricklands made racing their full time business. However, even though they still enjoy racing, they got tired of being away from home all the time. They still get to close the shop doors and hang a "gone racing" sign on the door whenever they wish.
Don said he has never won a world championship. However, he came close twice, finishing second in the world in IHRA Super Rod (1982) and second in the world against Steve Cohen in Quick Rod (1984). Some of Don’s memorable wins include a Tenn-Tuck championship and two wins at the legendary Moroso 5-day events. Strickland said, "I did a lot of winning in previous years. It gets harder to win as you get older. In fact, 2004 was my first year not winning a $10K race since the early ‘90s." He has yet to win an NHRA event, but has been in nine IHRA national event finals, winning three.
The Stricklands do not race much on the local level, preferring to race at four to six NHRA events and as many big money bracket races as they can fit into the schedule each year. The team of Don and Jeff have an impressive resume of wins. Together, they have been in 52 $10K race finals so far. They have won a number of $5K races also, in addition to many other bracket race wins. "I probably like bracket racing better than any other," added Don.
Don has not raced Footbrake very much since the advent of delay box racing. However, he said he raced their Stocker in Footbrake three years ago at Huntsville Dragway, their "home track" and had a blast. "I may try it (Footbrake racing) in 2005. Not sure yet," he added.
Strickland acknowledged all the help he has received from many different people in his racing career. Some of the companies who have helped make the Strickland racing team successful are TCI, Hoosier, Valvoline, Brodix, Wilkerson Racing Engines, Jegs, Mark Horton Motorsports and Tiffin Motor homes.
Strickland’s 2005 plans are the same, to go racing and win, something he has done very well during the past four decades.