The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Life!

August 4, 2007

Former drag racer reflects on his life in the fast lane

“If you can’t stand getting beat on the race track, you better not go out there,” Herman Lewis said with a grin. “You’re going to lose more than you win, but if you’ve got everything together, you’re going to win a lot. I did. I won a helluva lot.”

Fact is, Lewis did win a lot in his drag racing career. Enough that he will be the first-ever West Virginian inducted into the East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame in Henderson, N.C., in October.

Lewis had more than 200 wins and set 20 world records during his career, which began in 1958.

Lewis, though, is humble about his achievements.

“I don’t care nothing about all the highlights and stuff,” he said. “I just like to stay in the background and do my thing — build parts for AMCs, go out there and set records and make them run faster than anybody else. That’s what my cup of tea is.”

The cool thing about his career, most of his wins and 19 of his records came in an AMC Rambler against Hemi-powered Dodges and souped-up Chevrolets and Fords.

Lewis fell in love with the body style of the AMC car the first time he saw one.

“I saw the AMX and I really liked the body of it,” Lewis said. “I got me one of those and I raced it. I set 19 world records and won over 200 races. I had 10 match races and won all 10 of them and won five national events, so I did real good with the car.”

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Lewis has been dubbed “The Godfather of AMC” by his peers in the racing community and the title fits. He has set records in IHRA, AHRA and SCRA competition, in two-barrel carburetor, four-barrel carburetor and the two four-barrel carburetor divisions, and at 1/8-mile and 1/4-mile distances.

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