Maryland Int'l Raceway  •  27861 Budds Creek Road  •  Mechanicsville, MD  20659

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   2017 Hall of Fame
  


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Bob Banning, Dave Reitz, Tom Sneden

The Bob Banning Dodge team was one of the top drag racing teams in the sport but they got their start right here at MDIR on the first day the track was open! Tom Sneden, Dave Reitz, and Tom Chastang originally got together in 1960 with a home built DeSoto powered fuel dragster. But the guys saw the Mopar Super Stocks run at York in 1962, and said, "Hey, that would be fun." The three racers went into their local dealer -- Bob Banning Dodge in Hyattsville -- and expressed their desire to run one of the great new Super Stock Mopars. Mr. Banning kindly met with the young racers (who had not thought to make an appointment). After about three weeks, a deal was struck! Tom Sneden recalls, "I think he got tired of seeing us and threw the keys over for a 1963 Aluminum Super Stock Plymouth! Mr. Banning was such a nice man and was always so easy to deal with. We just walked in and started talking to him! He met with us and listened to us and liked us and he signed up."

The factory car was more than ready for drag racing but after the team tricked it out a bit more, they became the terrors of the Mid Atlantic. Soon after, Mr. Banning said "Hell, I sell Dodges, too!" So he added a Dodge Super Stock to the team. Dave Reitz drove the Plymouth, and Tom Sneden drove the Dodge. The team won about 75 percent of the time in local super stock shows. Mr. Banning reported that he really enjoyed hearing from the public about when they saw the Super Stock cars being towed up and down the highway in the region. The team was always polite to the fans and Mr. Banning liked that the team represented him the way he treated his customers. In fact, the cars were so popular that Mr. Banning remarked that he had been approached in airports and even in Europe by people who recognized the Bob Banning Dodge name! The team decided to go even faster in the late 60s and built a gas burning Dodge Charger funny car to race in NASCAR's 2400 lb. injected class. The Charger looked great but was made to look at stock as possible. After all, Bob Banning sold Dodges, not funny cars!

With Mr. Banning providing the best equipment and facilities, Tom Sneden at the wheel, and Dave Reitz turning the wrenches, the Bob Banning Dodge team racked up some truly historic wins. In 1966, they put a 4-speed in the Bounty Hunters Super Stock, added a street hemi, and won a huge NASCAR super stock meet the first time Tom ever drove a 4-speed! The team won the AHRA Ultra Stock points championship in 1969 and won the prestigious Turkey Trot Nationals at Gainesville in 1970. Another time, they built a brand new funny car and didn't have time to test it or tune it. But they entered the biggest funny car show of the time -- the King of Kings event -- and sent all the traveling pros packing!

Unfortunately, Dave Reitz won't be with us as we celebrate his contributions. Dave passed away earlier this year but was racing -- and winning -- at MDIR and elsewhere in the restored Bounty Hunter Mopar Super Stock (which, by the way are owned by Bob Banning, Jr., continuing this terrific relationship across the generations). Dave Reitz worked for Bob Banning Dodge for 44 years starting back in 1965.

Tom Sneden remembers his long time friends, "Mr. Banning paid for everything. He gave us a shop to work in. He supplied everything. It was worth that much to him. Dave raced and won right up to his recent passing. Bob Jr. now owns both of the Bounty Hunter cars and I couldn't participate without him. It's been a partnership that has gone on for nearly 60 years. It's been wonderful to be with the Bannings all these years. Dave and I didn't always see eye to eye but we worked together very well. We are all one big family. It's nice to see all the kids grow up. We often had our families with us in the winner's circle and when you see all the children grown and all the grandchildren, it's just very nice."

It's nice indeed to witness this terrific team that brought such renown to Budds Creek and the surrounding region. We are proud to recognize the Banning family, Tom Sneden, and Dave Reitz as true Legends of Budds Creek for 2017.

 

 

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