Sunday, January 08, 2017

one of the things that made the USA a cool place to be, was the firefighter team competitions... on Long Island they used to race cars as part of the championship... some far out hemi cars too, backwards Corvettes, etc. Crazy shit, I LOVE it!

Back in 1965, ABC ran a television show called Wide World of Sports. On one of their shows they had a fireman's competition between different fire departments in the country. The competition involved putting five fireman on the back of a homemade firetruck and taking off from a dead stop and hooking hoses to fire hydrants, unloading ladders, etc. It was like a quarter mile of competition to see who could do it the fastest time.

the above Dart is an altrered wheel base wrinkle wall monster, a Super Stock Hurst special?

One of the fire departments on Long Island, the Central Islip Fire Department drill team used a 1965 hemi Coronet with a truck back end welded in place where the trunk would have been.

All found on

the 1966 and 68, West Sayville Flying Dutchmen

And this competition still happens!

but to really spin your brain, they have a full photo gallery of all the cool old race cars on a Facebook page

Dexter,  New York, has a 1st  mention of a "foot team" in the dept. minutes in 1898 and participation continued into the late 1980's.

and one Facebook page is looking to connect us to all of them, there seem to be about 70 teams

3 years ago Hemmings ran an article on one of these race cars, and called it a Fire Chiefs car.

The object is, a team of competitors board a customized vehicle that looks sort of like a fire truck. They line up at a starting line against another team and, on signal, race for 475 feet. The rigs halt, they dismount, and hook a hose to a hydrant before hitting a target with the water stream. Or, throw a ladder against a platform and scramble to the top.

 So on one level, it's a car race. Today's hottest "trucks" are often based on tubular steel chassis originally designed for drag racing or paved-oval Modifieds. One team famously used to use a mid-1960s Corvette body turned around backwards, with the fastback rear window serving as a driver's windshield and the engine bay, less hood, as a hose bed.

Where these contests exist, almost all in New York, they're big, big stuff. Millions were first exposed to firemen's jousts during the 1960s when ABC's Wide World of Sports, which had a top producer living on Long Island, discovered them. Their proximity and low production costs made them staple segments on the program, like figure-eight racing and demolition derbies from nearby Islip Speedway. A Web site specializing in the drills,, lists well over 100 fire companies with drill teams, about 75 percent from Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.


  1. These competitions still go on, B trucks are mostly built on truck chassis and have dual rear wheels and a pump so they actually pump water in some events. C trucks are where much of the innovation in design came in. Cut off cars, extra wheels to help braking, but now mostly tube frame specials made exclusively for these events. The vehicles were getting too fast so blowers and turbos were outlawed, now big blocks are what most run. There is also an "old fashion " division where carts pulled by firemen replace the vehicles.
    In early times different fire companies raced to a fire, the first company to get water on the fire was paid, which caused quite the competition between them. Sometimes there were arguments over who got there first, fights erupted, and no one put the fire out. Something had to be done so fire districts were developed where one company would protect a specific area, eliminating the fighting.
    30 year member of a Long Island volunteer fire department, and I have jumped off the back of one of those racing trucks.

    1. Way cool! Thanks! I included the video to show what the competitions are like nowadays, and the images of the late 60s dragsters to show what crazy car guys were doing to hemi cars... and the old black and whites to show just how long these competitions have been an annual event. I think You wrote it all out in your note, in a lot fewer words! But it's better for me to show the cool old photos. A couple years ago I posted a competition between milk wagons / dairy delivery that was a NYC event about 115 years ago... and it's just cool to me that some great traditions have become something that is more a competition for bragging rights, than a technique used on the job. I mean that as a compliment, as those race cars aren't used on the job. Damn fine team effort technique, and I wish they'd had us do something similar in boot camp.

    2. plus, hell... it's a cool facet to the car enthusiast hobby that volunteer fire departments made drag race cars into trucks for a once a year competition! That is serious business! That altered wheel base Dart? Not common to see in any situation except the SS/A races between the super stock Hurst Darts and Barracudas!

  2. I remember seeing the backwards corvette as competition that was run on route 25A in Syosset, New York, circa 1967