Dana Hard’s interest in automobiles began at a young age with a 1959 Thunderbird perched on concrete blocks in his parent’s driveway. No one is quite sure if it was on blocks because Dana wasn’t old enough to drive or because it just didn’t run. What we do know is that this T-Bird was the beginning of Dana’s career in engine building. He learned his craft by carrying all of the parts of the engine into his parent’s basement and rebuilding it with only basic hand tools.
Dana’s brother, Randy, recalls his parents purchasing a 1963 Ford Falcon Futura for Dana, who proceeded to modify it by changing the transmission and hopping up the engine much to his parent’s chagrin. According to Randy, that is the reason why he never got a car from their parents as Dana did.
Dana went on to race a succession of Ford Fairlanes called “Just E’ Nuff”. These Fairlanes, equipped with 427s, managed to capture several national records in the AHRA Modified Eliminator & Gas classes.
In 1976 Dana founded Custom Auto Machine Company, also known as Camco Racing Engines and he still operates that business today at the same location on East Street in Weymouth Mass.
In an effort to go even faster, Dana built a destroked FE-powered Mustang II that he ran in the NHRA Pro Stock class until 1979. At that point, he took a hiatus to raise a family and focus his attention on his growing business.
Twenty years later, Dana realized that drag racing fever was still in his blood. Dana returned to the drag strip driving a Corvette funny car. No, it was not a Ford. Unfortunately, IHRA decided to cancel the class and the Corvette became a test vehicle for Camco Racing Engines.
Dana returned to his Ford roots when he built a 1948 Fiat funny car running an alcohol-fueled Ford wedge motor.
In 2008 Dana formed the East Coast Pro Comp Association which allowed racers to compete on a heads up local level similar to the old NHRA Pro Comp class. The East Coast Pro Comp Association is still active today and provides a great venue for racing and spectator enjoyment.
Like many hot rodders who have dreamed of owning a Nitro Funny Car, Dana debuted the “The Hard Guys” nitro Mustang in 2010 and it has proven to be a favorite with the New England fans with header flames, burnouts, and the smell of nitromethane in the air. And, while Dana’s earlier cars may have been “Just E’ Nuff”, “The Hard Guys” was not, so Dana built a second nitro Funny Car called “Die Broke.”
Dana has truly made a mark on the New England Hot Rodding and Drag Race scene. Building engines, sponsoring classes, supporting New England Dragway, as a car owner, and of course, being the “lifetime sponsor” for Billy Dee’s Northeaster Racing, Dana’s legacy will live on in New England for years to come.
The Orientals Hot Rod Club is honored to award Dana Hard with Induction into the 2019 class of the New England Hot Rod Hall of Fame.