1- Kys RCS 431 Chevy. Top gas car Driven by Bill Bisonett racing
Phil Bubar in the G.S.T.A car at Minnesota Dragways.
2- Kys full body top gas car at G.S.T.A. car show
3- Bill smoking the tires in 1968 at Donny Broke Raceway in Brainerd
4- Ky standing on the starting line of the old twin city speedway
note trees growing down the middle of the track.
5- Bronco Nagerski standing next to Kys dragster on the way to
a race in Canada
6- Kys first dragster 327 fuel injected Chev.on alcohol
7- Pat Paulson sitting in kys car
8 -Ky and Jim Shaffer at G.S.T.A. car show with the miser car
9- Car in pits at Minnesota Dragways.
10- kys top gas car at G.S.T.A. car show this is the car won Best
dragster and Best engine. The car was later destroyed in freeway
11- Byron Nelson KY Michaelson Bill Bissonett Tom ferrion team
12 -Kys first ride in a dragster was in1963, in the G.S.T.A,top
gas dragster called the Little One.
13- Bill Bissonett driving Kys car at Thunder Valley Raceway in
Marian South Dakota
14- The motor in the Miser dragster
15- Kys top gas dragster dragster, sitting in front yard I bought
this chassis new from Don Tuttle for $650.00 those were the good
16- Bill Bisonett smoking the tires at the 1971 Indy Summer Nationals,
the car ran 7.70 198MPH with a 485 inch Chrysler, this top gas
car had the worlds longest wheelbase of 219"
17- Ky giving last minute instructions to Capt. Ed Ballinger in
the Conklin Comet Rocket Car at Grate Lakes Drag ways, before
making a record run of 348 MPH.
18 -The Miser top gas Dragster at Minnesota Drag ways.
19- Kys dual engine BSA drag bike at G.S.T.A.car show
20- Ky making a run on his dual engine BSA drag bike at Minnesota
Minnesota Dragways 1968
Minnesota Dragways from airplane.
Twin City Speedway 1955
When I was a
young boy, I lived right next to the airport in South Minneapolis,
which is where they trained the fighter pilots during WWII. I
would gaze up into the sky and watch the planes accelerate as
they took off from the airport and was amazed at how fast the
planes could accelerate. That is when I discovered I had a need
When I attended Jr. High all that I could think and talk about
was being a racecar driver. I would draw streamlined cars and
would close my eyes and imagine what it would feel like to go
over 200 mph. I would build small cars and install homemade rockets
into them, which I made from my Gilbert chemistry set. I would
then shoot the cars down the alley where I lived to see how fast
they would go.
In 1953, I turned fifteen and saved the money I earned from my
paper route, mowing lawns and painting houses and I bought a 1932
Ford three-window coupe for eight dollars from a friend of mine.
I thought I was in heaven when I tore the fenders off and installed
a Ford truck motor with three Stromberg carburetors It also had
high compression aluminum finned heads and a nifty dark gray primer
paint job. Now all that I needed was a place to race. The closest
track was thirty miles away, but I had no trailer or truck with
which to pull it. My other problem was that I had no drivers
license, so one sunny Sunday morning I decided 1` to forget about
the minor details and take side roads hoping my loud exhaust pipes
would not attract the attention of the local police.
On the way to the track I stopped at a stop sign that was next
to a fire station. There was a fireman washing the sidewalk with
his fire hose and my first thought was to ask if he would turn
his hose on my car and give it a wash job. I asked him if he would.
That was a mistake. The water had so much high pressure that it
sprayed into the car everywhere. The engine started to sputter.
I hollered, "Stop!" as loud as I could and drove away
on about five cylinders.
It took me over an hour to get to the track. When I heard the
roar of a dragster going down the track my heart started to beat
faster. I thought to myself, at last my dreams came true. Then
all of a sudden I had a new problem when Don Voge, the owner of
the track, asked me how old I was. I told him I was sixteen. He
said, "No youre not! Youre eighteen." He
handed me a piece of paper and a pencil and told me to write a
letter from my mother saying it was all right to race. I drove
the car up to the starting line. I have to admit I was very nervous,
but when the flagman dropped the flag my competitive juices started
to flow. I had my first taste of speed, even if my speed was less
than 100 mph;
I had reached my goal of racing a car.
While at the track I noticed that the motorcycles were almost
as fast as the dragsters. I decided to go with the flow and build
a drag bike. My first bike was a 1954 Harley Davidson KHK. I ran
my first 100 mph with this motorcycle at Twin City Speedway. I
raced this bike for a year winning a few first place trophies.
I went to work at Pauls Cycle, a BSA dealership in St. Paul,
MN. The owner, Paul didnt like the fact that I was racing
a Harley, so he gave me a deal on new 1959 BSA 650cc Spitfire
Motorcycle. This bike came from the factory with straight pipes
and a high compression engine. It was a beautiful red and chrome
bike. I raced this bike in 1960 at Minnesota Dragways and Twin
City Speedway for 2 years winning over 35 trophies.
During the off-season I decided to stretch my BSA and add another
650cc bike engine. This was the first dual engine motorcycle in
the Midwest. Because of its extended length I decided to
call it the Centipede. This bike was the fastest motorcycle that
I raced to this date. One night at Twin City Speedway I let a
good friend of mine, Clem Larson ride the Centipede. When he shifted
into 4th gear he accidentally stuck his foot into the rear wheel.
He immediately came off the bike and ended up with a little road
rash a couple of stitches. The Centipede was completely destroyed.
Because of my interest in drag racing in 1956 I joined a racing
club called Gopher State Timing Association. This was the governing
body of a number of hot rod clubs in Minnesota. The club saved
enough money from holding car shows to buy a top gas dragster
from Jack Moss. If you worked on the car you could drive it, so
in 1963 I decided to stop racing motorcycles and jump into the
seat of the GSTA dragster, it had a short 101 inch wheel base
and we named it The Little One. It was powered by a 362 cubic
inch small block blown Chevy motor. My first run on the car was
160 mph in nine seconds. I drove the car for the season before
I decided to build my own car.
I had a full time job working at Melo-Glaze Bakery, I also had
a part-time job at a motorcycle shop and started a company called
KM Specialties selling after market motorcycle parts and building
motorcycle-racing motors, needless to say I was a busy guy. I
lived in a large old farmhouse with no garage and with the cold
winters in Minnesota I had no choice but to build my dragster
in my basement of my house. I felt like I was working around the
clock with all of my jobs so that I could pay my bills and build
a dragster. I finished the car, but I had no engine, so my friend
Ted Smith teamed up with me and supplied a 301cubic inch injected
Chevy on alcohol. I named the car The Miser because of what I
had to do to finance the car. We ran the car for a short time,
but it was not fast enough for me, so I decided to drive the GSTA
car for another year until I could afford a competitive blown
We had 5 drivers for the car. It was kind like playing musical
chairs because we would flip a coin to see who would drive the
car first. The other drivers would make fun of me because I would
not drive the car unless I could use the steering wheel out my
racecar. They didnt understand the reason why I would go
out of way to change the steering wheel. It was because I wanted
to have the feel of my wheel from my car so I could pretend I
was driving my car.
The next season I bought a new dragster chassis from California
Chassis Engineering. This was a super lite car with a super charged
327 Chevy motor. I competed in the top-gas dragster class. This
car proved to be a very competitive car; the only car that could
constantly beat me was the GSTA club car. Personally I didnt
think it was fair that I had to race against my own club car because
GSTA could afford the best equipment and I could not. I needed
the money I won with the car to support my racing hobby, so I
started to go out of the State and race. I also competed in the
NHRA division five points races.
The next year I built an all-new car with a 427 blown Chevrolet.
This car had plenty of power and I could light up the tires like
a top fuel dragster. Halfway through the season, at about the
thousand footmark, I felt a hard vibration. I looked down towards
the clutch can and just then the clutch exploded. I pulled both
of my feet back as far as I could, but not soon enough. A three
quarter inch piece of cast iron from the bell housing hit my foot;
it cut right through my shoe penetrating my foot cutting the tendons.
It felt like someone hit my foot with a large sledgehammer, needless
to say that was the end of my driving for the summer.
I recruited Bill Bisonett to drive the car. He also had a good
friend that was a top-notch mechanic by the name of Byron Nelson.
We finished the season with a number of wins and for the first
time I didnt have so much pressure on me. It was not easy
to drive the car and do most of the mechanical work too. I finally
had a chance to sit back and enjoy drag racing. The only time
I got nervous was when Bill drove the car. Bill was a good driver
but I always worried that if some thing happened he could get
hurt. Bill and I became very close friends.
The next season I bought a top fuel dragster chassis from Jerry
Boldennow, Frank Hauser of RCS originally built it. It was a super
light car and it was equipped with best that money could buy.
We built a new 436 cubic inch Chevrolet top gas motor with a new
Hampton blower and a new enclosed trailer. Kenny Winters painted
the car with a really flashy purple and black sycadelic paint
job; after all it was the 60s. We were loaded for bear and
ready to go racing!
When we were not following the NHRA division five circuit, we
raced the rest of the season at Minnesota Dragways and North Star
Raceway. One of the more memorable moments I had with this car
was when we were racing up in Winnipeg, Canada. We were sitting
in the staging lines getting ready to race and there were 4 other
cars sitting in front of us. A fellow racer by the name of Dave
Babler, in his California Woody top fuel car made a qualifying
run. The car had a huge explosion, which cut the frame rails on
the car and damaged the car severely. I was told that when Dave
was working on the car, he accidentally dropped a socket in the
clutch can and could not get it out, so he left it in and when
he made the run that was the cause of the engine explosion.
At that same time one of my mechanics was adjusting the clutch
on my car and he dropped an Allen socket in my clutch can. We
tried desperately to get the socket out, but we could not get
to it. I really needed the money and we came all of this way and
we could not even race the car. I was sitting in the car all bummed
out and then it struck me like a bolt of lightening. Why not roll
the car upside down on the roll cage and shake the car until the
socket falls out! I jumped out of the car and started shouting
orders like a drill sergeant. Everyone thought I was crazy when
we rolled the car on over on the roll cage and started shaking
the car. One of the race officials said that it was too late to
run the car. I pleaded with him to give us another minute. Just
then the socket fell out of the clutch cam. We rolled the car
back on its wheels. Bill jumped back into the car and signal me
to push the car to start it. Bill waited for the oil pressure
to come up and then he hit the ignition switch. The motor started
to sputter. Oil, gas and a lot of smoke were coming out of the
exhaust pipes. He kept revving the motor up and it started to
fire on all 8 cylinders. The green light came on and Bill qualified
the car. I dont think anyone has ever made this radical
of a decision before, but it worked for us.
Every time we traveled out of state I would always say to Bill,
"I sure wish I could catch a rattle snake", and Bill
would say, "Michaelson what are you going to do when you
catch that rattle snake?" I would joke around and say, "Im
going to take that old snake and twirl it above my head and snap
its head right off." Bill would always laugh and say,
"I sure would like to get a picture of that!"
When we raced down in Bowling Green, Kentucky there was a carnival
right next to the racetrack so I decided to check it out. When
I was walking through the carnival I saw a real big, authentic
looking rubber snake. I thought to myself, Im going to buy
that snake and get even with Bill because of all the jokes he
played on me through the years. We decided to drive back home
from the race instead of staying overnight. It was about 3:00am
when we stopped to get gas in Wisconsin. Bill was sleeping with
his contact lens out in the back of the station wagon. Tom Ferrin
was driving the station wagon. As we pulled out of the gas station
I noticed thousands of fireflies along side the service road.
I told Tom to pull over because I wanted to try and catch some
fireflies and of course I took my big rubber snake with me. I
was running through the weeds pretending to catch fireflies. I
dropped my rubber snake on the ground and starred screaming, "Snake!
Snake! Snake!" Bill sat up in the station wagon and started
hollering, "Ky, watch out it could be a Water moccasin!"
I pretended to drop the snake and chase it. Bill became more and
more upset. I dragged it out for about five minutes.
I finally took the snake and threw it into the back of the station
wagon where Bill was. He started screaming and almost went into
hysterics; lets just say I sure got his attention. Tom and
I had to jump on top of him so he would not kick out the windows.
His heart was beating about ninety miles an hour. After we got
Bill settled down he said, "Ky, this is the best joke you
have ever played on me."
Bill reminded me of the time that we were driving up to Canada
to race at Bison Raceway, it was late at night and Bill was driving
the pickup with a camper on it. He exited off the freeway and
headed down a gravel road. We all were very tired so Bill pulled
over and parked. The next morning I woke up and looked out the
window, Bill had parked right on a railroad track Thank God no
train came down the track at night. At the time this happened
I thought Bill did this on purpose, so I told Bill that I would
get even with him some day. Bill thought scaring him with the
snake the next season was my way of getting back at him.
In 1970, I had Bob Myers build me a new 215-inch wheel base car.
We chromed and polished ever thing that we could on the car. Dave
Dewars built the 465 cubic inch hemi engine, with a Lenco two
speed transmition. The car was painted with a beautiful combination
of yellow, orange and candy apple red paint. We entered the car
in the GSTA Rod and Custom Show and won Best Dragster
and Best Engine trophies. This was a great way to
start out the season!
Unfortunately, the rest of the season was not as successful. Halfway
through the season we where heading back home from a race in Wisconsin,
Tom Ferrin was driving the tow vehicle. We were driving down a
long hill when disaster struck. A semi truck drove very close
past us at high speed, causing our trailer to violently whip from
side to side. Tom tried every thing possible to straighten the
trailer out. We eventually went into the median sideways flipping
the trailer. The trailer tore away from the tow vehicle and burst
into flames. Luckily a wrecker came by and hooked a cable around
the roll cage, and pulled the twisted dragster out of the trailer.
The only thing that was saved was the engine and drivers compartment.
The trailer and all of its contents were a total loss. Needless
to say the racing season came to an abrupt end.
The 1971 season, we had Bob Myers build me a new car using the
old drivers compartment from the burnt car and extended the frame
to 219-inch wheelbase, making it the worlds longest wheel
base top gas car. We painted the car black with white lettering
that read Michaelson Bissonet Nelson. I also bought
a new rear engine car from Larry Simpson, which I planned on using
the next season. Unfortunately 1971 was also the year NHRA dropped
top gas from the professional category to make room for pro-stock.
Personally, I think if it has doors its not a racecar.
About eighteen owners of top gas cars teamed up and formed up
a group called the Midwest All Stars. We circuit raced throughout
the Midwest for two years and I began to lose interest in circuit
racing and decided to go exhibition racing where I was guaranteed
to make money. I also had plans to set the worlds fastest
and quickest quarter mile record.