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Subject: Vallco Professional Drag Racing Game rss

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Greg Zyla
United States
Coal Township
Pennsylvania
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The Vallco Professional Drag Racing game came about actually way back in 1964-65, when inventor Greg Zyla decided that drag racing could have a game similar to the simulation successes of Strat-O-Matic (Greg was and still is a fan), APBA, Negamco and other stick and ball sport games.

Greg's first "set" was a hand made and somewhat crude version of Dave Strickler's Z-11 1963 "Old Reliable," The Ramchargers Dodge, Don Nicholson's 62 Bubbletop Bel-Air 409, Hayden Proffitt's Chevy, Ronnie Sox's Z-11, Dick Brannan's Ford, Gas Rhonda's 63 Ford, Al Ekstrand's Dodge, Ken Montgomery's "555" Plymouth and a few other noted Super Stock and AFX cars of the day.

Although Greg had yet to figure out the actual game board that he would go on to develop while a student at Mt. St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, MD., which results in accurate E.T. mad MPH performances, his "four dice roll" drag racing game was basically well underway.

Although the game sat dormant in his head while serving active duty Army time at Fort Jackson, SC, (National Guard), he rekindled his work on a serious note soon after graduation from college full-time. Greg also attended Cumberland County College in Vineland, N.J. until he was drafted. Cumberland County was built on the land of the former Vineland Speeday, whichincluded a quarter-mile dragstrip.

Greg and his father, an artist and newspaperman, went to work on the game in October of 1973, and by 1975 the game was ready for purchase. Greg's first edition came with 31 Pro Stock drivers a few nameless cards based on the 1974 NHRA Pro Stock season.


Knowing he needed driver releases to run their names in the game with photos, Greg went to the 1973 NHRA Summernationals, and approached Roy Hill first, who was sitting in the staging lanes with other Pro Stock drivers. Greg approached Hill, and told him he needed the signatures of all the Pro Drivers so he could put the game out. He had a sample with him, Hill looked at and said "What are you planning to do if it sells with the money? Greg explained his dream was to build his own racecar and compete in it, and return the money to racing in that manner. Hill knew Greg did not represent a big company, and actually came to him with more hopes than anything.

Hill called the other drivers over, and told Greg to go after his dream. He signed it, and so did seven other drivers crowded around. By the time Greg was finished, even Bill Jenkins gave his blessing, as did Jack Roush, Bruce Larson, and all the other drivers in that first series.

Armed with what he needed most, he returned home, and his father began painting the game box cover and helping coordinate all of the reproduction needs necessary in the older days of pre-computer publishing.

The first ad (see attached) ran in National Dragster in 1975, and the game started to sell, but it wasn’t until Woody Hatten, a writer for Super Stock and Drag Illustrated Magazine, did a column on Greg's game that kicked everything into high gear. Hatten actually came to Greg's hometown of Shamokin, Pa., and, expecting to visit a game company, was rather approached by a small family with big hopes and dreams. He was very impressed, saw that the game was run out of a small home that the family owned in the coal patch town of Ranshaw, Pa., where Greg grew up.

The result was the sale of about 3,000 games, with new cards being produced each year to take care of the happy owners. With the profits, Greg purchased an old Vega Panel Wagon Funny Car, bought a new drivetrain, and entered competition after building the car from the ground up with the help of a fatherless 16-year-old boy who lived above the garage that Greg rented for his operation by the name of Ron Shurock.

Having lots of racing experience (a story in itself---do an Internet search on "The Road Of Greg Zyla" -and this story comes into focus with amazing results.

Today, Greg is a former champion race driver, a syndicated automotive and motorsports writer for King Features Syndicate, has had over 500 articles published in auto magazines, enjoyed an eight year television career as host of Sprint Car racing's "Dirt Trackin" and is the publisher of The News-Item newspaper in Shamokin, Pa., which is owned by Times-Shamrock Communications.

Although no cards were produced after 1980, the game still has regular players today, and with a recent old home "warehouse" find (March of 2006) of extra game parts and cards and game boards, the game is available today in limited numbers. With less than 20 game boxes left, Greg can't fill any big orders that demand game boxes, and is very selective as how they are distributed. For information, contact gzyla@ptd.net.
 
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