Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Friends Set for Induction into Drag Racing Hall

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Friends Set for Induction into Drag Racing Hall

Article excerpt

Byline: Jason Schneider, Times-Union sports writer

A journey that started on the Rhode Island streets during his teenage years will reach the finish line today in Gainesville as Donald Marshall and longtime racing partner and friend Jimmy King are inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

The two will become the first and only New Englanders to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, at a ceremony in Gainesville. The hall, located near Ocala, annually holds inductions during the Gatornationals, which begin tomorrow. King and Marshall established a legacy in a sport dominated by Southerners and Californians.

Marshall, who now lives in Jacksonville, began racing before he could legally drive. With a half-dozen friends, including King, he began scraping together cars and driving them when he was 15 in hopes of cars to come.

"Like many kids, I always thought my dad would get me a car when I turned 16," Marshall, now 66, said. "That wasn't the case."

Instead, Marshall began building his own rides and a love of cars turned into a love of speed. Marshall, King and friends began tearing up the long strips of New England.

Eventually, the car clubs Marshall belonged to -- the King Pins and the Southern New England Timing Association -- were able to convince the Navy to open its base in Rhode Island to monthly drag racing. As other groups in the New England area arose, races were being held every Sunday around the region.

Drag racing, which Marshall credits with keeping him "on the straight and narrow" in his youth, ultimately brought him fame.

After starting out on four wheels, Marshall started racing motorcycles. His early success attracted a sponsorship from a local Harley-Davidson dealership. Marshall set several land-speed records, pushing his speedometer to 136, 142 and then, with the help of a nitromethane fuel mixture, to 150 mph.

Though King was off racing cars, he and Marshall remained friends and helped each other out with parts, advice and encouragement. But it wasn't until King talked to Marshall about starting their own racing team that he considered going back to racing on four wheels. …

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