John "Freight Train" Peters  

John, a 20+ year employee of Engle Cam Company, is a modest, soft-spoken, hard worker who loved to win races, but shied away from notoriety. He never drove. Always by his side was the faithful Beverly peters and her famous "Chicken Wings". In many ways she helped keep the train alive. 

John was understandably bitter when NHRA dropped Top Gas from its pro ranks in ’72, and hasn’t raced since. After tens of thousands of hours in the shop, week after week, the last Freight Train was parts’-out, and the chassis hung in the rafters until The "Freight Train" was once again "Back on Track". You can now see the train amidst many other of the drag racing greats at various nostalgia events across the country.

“I never went out to the track to lose first round,” John said. “I worked hard all the time so we’d be ready to race. I went out to win.

“Running gasoline is a challenge,” he added. “It takes more than adding 10 percent and some overdrive. Nitro isn’t even a fuel. It’s an excuse.”
“We could run one pass for the whole ball of wax and maybe make a run. Now, they’re spending two thousand to make how much?? .”
The "Freight Train" is owned by John "Freight Train" Peters who currently lives in Lakeport California. In it's heyday the "Freight Train" was the top twin engine gas dragster in the US and still holds track records at some venues.
The venerable "Freight Train" is the most famous Chevrolet dragster of all time, and the most successful and popular Top Gasser in the history of drag racing:
“Legend” is a word used carelessly in this era of superlatives, but the car shown on these pages is a legend.  The history of the Top Gas Eliminator in drag racing can be told in two words:  “Freight Train.”  And the man who built them, made them work, stuck with the concept during the awkward early years when twin-engine cars were notoriously unreliable, is John Peters.
John and Beverly Peters have owned the "Freight Train" for many years but the most common misconception is that John drove the car which he never has. Multiple people have driven the "Freight Train" go to the history page for more on this.

History of The Freight Train

The original Train was a dual-engine car built by John and partner Nye Frank in 1959, and ran under sponsorship from Quincy Automotive in Santa Monica, California.  It was a twin-Chevrolet car with one front-mounted 6-71 blower, overdriven through a Halibrand quick-change, with one long inlet duct running over both engines. Then a top-mount 6-71 was added to the rear engine, and three weeks later, the front-mount blower was moved atop the front engine.  The shape was born.
There were several Freight Trains, all twin-engines, and (after a brief period in 1959) all twin-supercharged. They raced in three decades, the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.  They made over 1700 passes in 24 states, including Hawaii, at the hands of 13 drivers. The Train was always the most feared competitor in its class, virtually throughout its lifetime.
The 50's & 60's were a time of great innovation throughout drag racing. For many fans the "real show" took place in the ranks of the "Top Gas Dragsters". Qualifying occurred within 2/10 of a second over an entire field so the competition was fierce. In 1967 the Freight Train threw a scare into the Gas Dragster class which fueled the cry "let's have 'em barred", "I won't race 'em" etc. The cause of this scare and subsequent comments were the ultra low e.t.'s the dual small block powered Train was turning in the 7.40's! By 1968 the Train was still churning out the scary numbers and still had the edge. It was the car to beat.  During one era it was nearly a half second faster than the rest of the field!  It was the best known dragster in the country for many years. Don Garlits called it one of the top five drag race cars ever built.
In its final form in the twilight of Top Gas racing, two 428-CID blown early Chryslers were fitted, coupled to a two-speed transmission, and once again weight approached one ton. 
The list of accomplishments of Peters’ magnificent legend is so long we’ve put a small part of it in a sidebar.  It’s impossible to list them all, let alone convey what seeing this car meant to so many drag racing fans during the sport’s Golden Era of the’60s.

By 1971, virtually every competitive Top Gasser in the country had quit trying to beat John Peters at his own dual-engine game, and joined the bandwagon.  Twin-engine Top Gassers were everywhere, and fans were treated to awesome contests between two pairs of blown engines in one race for nearly every round of Top Gas, But NHRA had other ideas.  For the 1972 season, Top Gas was dropped, and the cars were to be lumped into handicap-start Competition Eliminator bracket racing.  Just as the Freight Train broke into the sixes on gas, it was relegated to a bracket racer!  We’re all the poorer.

The Name "Freight Train"

The car was initially white and Tommy Ivo called it “The Great White Steamship.” Let’s face it. How many diggers had Monroe Load Levelers for front suspension? 
By 1960 the concept was established, but it would be two years before Peters and Frank would capture their first big win.
Judy Thompson, a columnist for Drag News, christened the machine after a notable performance at Fontana Raceway, by writing that the car beat the competition by a ‘freight train length.” That, coupled with the first-generation machine’s incredible weight of nearly 2200 pounds, led to the most famous moniker in drag racing.
The first basic engine/chassis combination was run until 1965 with minor modifications. Then John fashioned a new 164-inch car that was nearly 600 pounds lighter, and featured an unusual, single three-inch blower drive for both 6-71 blowers.
Initially referred to as Freight Train II, it was campaigned for a while by Peters and George Bacilek. (Frank had left the team to build the twin-unblown Chevy fueler, fully streamlined, and known as the Pulsator.) During the next two years, the new combination would reach its full potential with a remarkable string of wins in ’67, as the ‘slipper clutch, no smoke” drag racing era began. The car became world famous.

Outstanding Performances

·  Top Gas Eliminator “ Bakersfield ’62  Muravez (last win as “Muravez” for six years)
·  Top Eliminator Winternationals ’63 (Peters was listed as driver)
·  First Gas Dragster over 180 mph  “63 (Peters was listed as driver)
·  Low ET gas “ 8.07 “ Tulsa World Finals ’65 (disallowed; NHRA said car was too light!) “ Tuller
·  Best Appearing Crew “ Winternationals “ ’66 “ Tuller
·  First Gas Dragster in the sevens “ ’66 “ Tuller
·  Top Gas Bakersfield “ ’67 “ Tuller
·  Top Gas “ Bristol Springnationals “ ’67 Tuller
·  First Gas Dragster over 190mph “ ’67 “ Lippencotte
·  First Gas Dragster 200mph “ ’67 “ Lippencotte
·  Top time, low ET gas, 7.30/200 “ U.S. Nationals- ’67 “ Lippencotte
·  Top Gas - USPD Championships, Lions “ ’67 “ Lippencotte
·  Top time, low ET gas, every meet raced in ’67 “ Lippencotte
·  Division VII points champion five years of seven
·  Top Gas “ USPD Championships, Lions “ ’68 “ Lippencotte
·  Top Gas Springnationals “ ’69 “ Muravez
·  Top Gas “ Bakersfield “ ’70 “ Davis
·  First Gas Dragster to run seven-flat “ ’71 “ Rhodes
·  First Gas Dragster in the sixes “ ’71 “ Muravez
·  Top Gas “ Gatornationals “ ’71 “ Rhodes (final major win, Chryslers)


The list of Freight Train drivers is stunning.  This added a colorful dimension to the Train’s history that helped make it the fan’s favorite everywhere.
Train "engineers” included (random order) Bob Brissette, Craig Breedlove, Tom McEwen, Mickey Thompson, Bill Alexander, Leonard Harris, Roy “Goob” Tuller, Billy The Kid Scott, Gerry Glenn, Bob Noice, Sam Davis (pictured), Walt Rhodes, and the infamous Floyd Lippencotte Jr., AKA Bob Muravez.  Behind each and every one of them was the “real” engineer of the entire saga, toiling quietly in preparation for another of its seemingly endless appearances, John Peters.
Bob Muravez made over 1300 runs in the car, that’s over 325 miles in a digger!  At one point he won 28 consecutive rounds of competition before losing to a red light.  Through suggestion from track announcer Mel Reck and track operator Steve Gibbs, and because of a peculiar family circumstance, Bob adopted the Lippencotte handle for several years.  He was rarely photographed during the period, and was undoubtedly the most notorious drag race driver in the sport’s history, for driving and winning national meets  using an alias.

Sam Davis 2007