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Long Beach, CA July 10, 2010 – The fifth annual “Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo and Car Show”, produced by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, once again graced the streets of the Bixby Knolls Business District in Long Beach , CA With the participation growing every year the event had over 200 classic, specialty and classic drag race cars on display.

The event was staged, through the efforts of Rae Gabelich, a Long Beach city councilwoman and whirlwind of energy. This year's high-energy show featured more than 150 classic cars, street rods and specialty vehicles from all over Southern California . They were proudly displayed up and down Atlantic Avenue between San Antonio Drive and Roosevelt Road by their enthusiastic owners. Each competed against the other for the coveted trophies in seventeen various categories.

Countless individuals, sponsors and community partners, including the newest member, the Long Beach Sea Festival, were enthusiastically supportive of making this years event the great success it was. In addition there were thousands of families, automobile fanatics and race fans in attendance that helped to raise a significant amount of funds for the Long Beach Special Olympics.

Cool street rods aside, the stars of the day (and night) were over a dozen cacklecars that came out to support this huge event.

Commentary by Pam Schavrien




Cars started arriving early and as they did they were herded to their spots on the streets of Bixby Knolls.




What would a dragster event be without Ora May and Robin Millar and all their wonderful goodies. Here they are setting up their booth bright and early.


Entering the venue one was overwhelmed with all kinds of great iron.




Steve Plueger brought both his Nitro Nostalgia Funny Cars out.



There was literally something for everybody including some blown fuel drag boats.



Cynthia Carpenter and John Ewald are joined with Miss Toyota Grand Prix at the Firestone Complete Auto Care Indy car Cynthia and John provided to raise funds for the Special Olympics. Guests made donations to sit in the car for a photo op. Close to $1000 was raised at the booth.






The NHRA Wally Parks Museum brought out a couple of cars including the newly restored Howard Cams Twin Bear.







The ever present Winged Express AA/FA.


Stormy Byrd's Revelation B/MR


One of Drag Racing’s icons, the Mooneyes Dragster, which was a part of the first NHRA U. S. Drag Team that went to England and raced on RAF airstrips in 1963. Mooneyes is owned by Chico Kodama and Shigei Suganuma who also owns the Mooneyes Company both here and in Japan.



On hand again this year was the recreation of one of the cars Rae Gabelich late husband, Gary drove which was the Beach City Chevrolet Corvette. The original car burnt to the ground at Orange County International Raceway in 1969.


Team Estrus who owns the Beach City Corvette also brought out one of their Nostalgia Top Fuel cars.



Swamp Rat 3 is the only Garlits car that is ever displayed, that is not now owned by Garlits. Don recreated this car for his long-time friend, Sonny Messner from Acton, CA.



Bobby Hansen's restored "Wynn's Spoiler" AA/FD.




Don Prieto's "Hustler VI"




The Dean Engineering Special owned originally and now restored by the McCloud brothers.



The well traveled Ewald Bros. "BankAmericar"




The 1965 Yeakel Plymouth Special originally owned by Lou Baney and driven by Tom McEwen.





Even the Blues Brothers were drawn to the dragster show.


Another car from the NHRA Wally Parks Museum was the Howard Cams Rattler.



Bob DeBurns "Paradise Alley"


The car that started it all - Bill Pitts' Magicar.




The two popular dragsters of John Ewald's "Maxed Out Racing" team, the BankAmericar and the Mastercar sporting the big Firestone slicks.



Safford-Gaide-Ratican AA/FA


The Gruzen Family's "Mighty Mouse"



Monica Mueller and Ron Stearns



Center stage of the event was a collection of 14 classic dragsters from the Golden Era of Drag Racing. Without doubt the highlight of the event was the two fire-up sessions of these beautifully restored and/or re-popped “Cacklefest” cars! At about 4:30 PM the first round commenced as these beastie boys were brought to life to tantalize the gathering crowd… and that they did!On July 10, 2010 the streets of downtown Long Beach, CA came roaring to life yet again at the 5th Annual Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo and Car Show! What an event this was...over 200 classic and specialty cars were on display. Here they are getting ready for the first fire-up session.










Gwen McWilliams waiting to get into the Howard Cams Rattler.











One really cool deal of the Cacklefest came in the form of audience participation. John Ewald came up with the idea of auctioning off the seats in his two cackle cars. A few other cackle car owners joined in and all the proceeds went to the Long Beach Special Olympics organization. Over $2000 was raised. Needless to say the crowd went wild! What a special group of individuals these car owners are!



Bud Rasner, Doug Kruse and Bill Pitts


Rae Gabelich is on the right, she's the pretty one. On the left is John Ewald, owner of the Bankamericar and the Mastercar and the force behind the gathering of the retired Nitro cars at this event. John pitched in and lent Rae a hand getting everything pulled together and also acted as master of ceremonies during the fire-ups.


John and Rae were interviewed by a local TV station for a live broadcast. Scary when it's live!


Frank Baney, Jim Rossi and Paul Rossi with Rae Gabelich in the seat of their Yeakel Plymouth Spec.




The two highest bidders for the seats of the BankAmericar and Mastercar await the thrill of a 2500 horsepower Hemi pounding in front of them.








Officially kicking off round one of the Cacklefest was John Ewald, the man behind the mic...and he did it proud. For the benefit of all the Nitro virgins in attendance, Ewald explained to the anxiously awaiting crowd, which was growing larger by the moment; the history behind these diggers, their fuel of choice and how they ran. The curious on-lookers were treated to a living history lesson as they witnessed each team prep their cars and mix up a batch of magical juice called… Nitromethane! From there each team took their places and spun the motors over as they checked for oil pressure.were brought to life to tantalize the gathering crowd… and that they did!


The first car was Joel Gruzen with his nitro gulping “Mighty Mouse” with Mike Lopaz in the seat.



Up next was Sonny Messner in his "Don Garlits" Swamp Rat III recreation. This car is a historic rendition of the original car that Big Daddy Don Garlits campaigned in 1957.




It was as if time stood still. Next to take the seat behind the historic “Yeakel Special” pipes was the one and only Rae Gabelich, Long Beach Councilwoman for the Eighth District! Rae who is no stranger to dragsters and life in the fast lane, as she is the widow of the legendary 1970 world land speed record holder, Gary (Rocketman) Gabelich. She smiled the entire time, pumping fist and giving the peace sign; she thoroughly enjoyed the nitro and fire that this beast was belching out the headers!








Bill Pitts was in his beautifully restored “Magicar” slingshot. This is one ride that holds true to its name as magic always manifests between its pipes.






Keith Jackson was happily seated in the awesome BankAmericar.







Bobby Hansen's Wynn's car with Tom King behind the pedal; you could not get the smile of Tom's face if you tried.






Momentarily switching from the diggers to the cool ride of the “Ratican-Jackson-Stearns” Fiat Fuel Altered; lucky bidder Monica Mueller calmly took the seat in this very unique ride. As owner Ron Stearns fired the Olds power plant and lowered the body.





Don Prieto in his Hustler VI



Dressed to race, Gwen McWilliams in the “Howard Cam Rattler” tuned by Dusty McWilliams. As the car came to life the crowd was treated to some real in-your-face Nitro!






Bob Deburne's “Paradise Alley” with Jim Kirby behind the wheel.





PDA founder Doug Kruse with Steve and Gloria Gibbs.



Next digger to light her pipes was the famed “Mastercar” AA/FD with Long Beach City Council Member for the Seventh District James Johnson in the seat.







Cacklecar pioneer Bill Pitts was ever vigilant on the safety.


A special "ride" followed next, it was the beautiful FED of Jake & Marilyn McCloud. Their “Dean Engineering” dragster seat was filled by Guy Gabelich, the son of Gary and Rae! He was all smiles as he patiently waited his turn. When Jake turned it over and the motor kicked in, Guy was as excited as one could get! A few minutes later as McCloud killed the fuel, Guy could be heard saying…"Ahhhhhh, do you have to shut it off, can we do it again"?












As the afternoon gave way to the evening, the skies wasted no time in growing dark. With the sun setting fast and the air cooling down, it only meant one thing... the final round! Once again it was time to fill the Bixby Knolls air with more nitro!

The eager on-lookers were gathering around the Nitro Corral with an abundance of excitement restrained deep inside. Each team had taking their perspective places and was checking over everything one last time. In round two the level of thrills was promised to supersede the first round as all 14 cars fired simultaneously





Jim Rossi, Paul Rossi, Ronnie Rapp, Walt Stevens and Frank Baney.


The final auction was extended to the masses for seat time in one of these bad boys; more donated dollars were once again exchanged for a lasting memory, not to mention additional funds were raised for the Long Beach Special Olympics. Between what was raised in the Cackle cars and Ewald's Indy car a total of $3000 was brought in.




Change of pace.... ????




Then the call was made... “All drivers to your cars”! Immediately thereafter the excitement level grew amongst the crowd. Then without any further time, Ewald gave the signal to fire them up and fire they did! Soon the crowd was feasting their senses to the smell of nitro, the sound of raw horsepower pounding at their eardrums and the sight of nitro night fire!


The Yeakel boys did not disappoint their driver for the night; Danny Larson who was thrilled to be cackling in a rare piece of American Drag Racing history!








Around the bend was the “Mastercar” throwing flames out of all eight candles with Steve Patton enjoying his ride.






Clint Hightower was treated to a cackle on all eight in the “Dean Engineering” car.





Funny Car pilot Jeff Utterback was on hand to do the honors in the seat of the beautiful “Beach City Chevrolet” 69’ Corvette as it cackled nitro into the night time sky for the cheering crowd! As a side note, this fabled topless flopper is a beautiful replica of the one Gary Gabelich drove many years ago.



Sonny in his “Swamp Rat III”




Don Prieto’s “Hustler VI”.





“Paradise Alley” with Jim Kirby back in the seat once again found the magic and had the pipes lit with nitro flames for the cheering spectators!


Ron Arias was in the seat of Bobby Hanson's “Wynn's Special”.





Gary Flanagan was in the seat of the always thrilling "BankAmericar"; one radical running piece of machinery and crowd pleaser for sure! Gary recently married Paula Baldwin, daughter of Chris "the Greek" Karamesines so he knows what it was all about.









In the seat of the “Magicar” for the thunderous ride was John Deats.








Gwen McWilliams was back in the “Howard Cams Rattler”.








“Estrus Racing” AA/FD with Mike Cross behind the wheel.


Joel Gruzen's “Mighty Mouse” was adorned with its nitro motor just for the festivities. This time around the beautiful and very talented Eily Stafford, NE1 driver, was right at home for a little seat time and some nitro in your face!




When it was all said and done... the last fuel valve was shut off. The sound of nitro was immediately replaced with ear deafening shouts of joy from the very satisfied, newly recruited nitro maniacs in attendance! With header smoke still hanging in the air, the crowd was given one last opportunity to get up close and personal with these racers and their magnificent, magical, mechanical masterpieces before they were shoved into their boxes. Once again another very successful Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo and Car Show Cacklefest had come to an end!

In closing we would like to give a extra special thanks to our own John Ewald, Dave Mandalla, Rae Gabelich and the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association who spent countless months, days and hours putting this all together, therefore helping to make it as successful as it was. Also to all the owners of these beautiful Cacklecars who brought them out, unselfishly shared them with everyone and was an instrumental element that helped raise money for the Long Beach Special Olympics.




Check back for more event coverage as they happen.


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