Resurrected after a horrendous 2020 crash, the Sh**box of Doom lives to race once more

Brandan Gillogly

The 1957 Chevy wagon that Richie Crampton campaigned in Hot Rod magazine’s Drag Week in 2017 and 2018 is being rebuilt after a serious 2020 crash that nearly cost its driver his life. Richie Crampton, Dominick Lagana, and Jake Sanders, each NHRA drag racers, were all in the wagon when it crashed and caught fire after leaving the road while driving near Brownsburg, Indiana last August. Lagana, the driver, was badly burned. He lost his legs and suffered a head injury that put him in a coma for almost two months. His recovery has been hard-fought but it looks like a skilled medical team, support from his loved ones, and his own steel resolve have all contributed to his tremendous progress.

Brandan Gillogly

The car, dubbed “Sh**box of Doom” due to its weathered appearance, was an immediate fan favorite at Drag Week in 2017 where it ran a twin-turbo LS V-8. It was upgraded with a water-jacketed Top-Alcohol-style engine for 2018 when Crampton and Jonnie Lindberg brought the car back to Drag Week 2018. The car’s fame grew when as it was used to tow Lindberg’s Top Alcohol Funny Car at NHRA events.

In the video announcing the car’s return, Tom Bailey and Richie Crampton discuss the car’s history and the plan to get it back on the road after the crash along with the changes they plan on making to the car so that it will be easier to use on the track. Bailey admits that the decision to rebuild the car wasn’t easy.

Tom Bailey has a number of trophies under his belt in the world of street-car racing. If you’ve followed Hot Rod magazine’s Drag Week over the past 10 years, then you’ve probably heard of Bailey and his fraternal twin ’69 Camaros that he’s piloted to four overall wins in the endurance drag racing event. If you’re unfamiliar and are scratching your head imagining how a 1/4-mile race can even be considered anything close to an endurance race, Drag Week, and Rocky Mountain Race Week that runs a similar format, is for street-driven vehicles that must complete several hundred miles on the road after collecting the best elapsed time they can muster on the dragstrip. The cars can pull a trailer for spare parts and tools, but there are no support vehicles allowed. It’s a war of attrition as the most competitive classes run on the ragged edge of reliability in order to squeeze out the quickest passes possible.

Tom Bailey confers with his Drag Week copilot and engine builder, Steve Morris. Brandan Gillogly

Bailey and Crampton hope to rebuild the wagon so that Bailey’s son, Aydan, can run the car at Rocky Mountain Wage Week 1.0, which is less than a month away. Aydan will have the benefit of having his dad and his years of racing and wrenching experience as his copilot. While the duo probably won’t need any, we wish them luck just the same.

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    Great to see Richie again, and great to see this car rebuilt; although I would personally like to see Jonnie Lindberg’s alcohol engine back in it.

    On a side note, I am curios as to what exactly happened on that dreadful day of the accident. It really hasn’t been talked about and perhaps the details are to be kept within the racing community. I have talked to Dominic, but at the time, couldn’t bring myself to ask.

    Good luck with the project!

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