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
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.
by Pam Schavrien
Cars started arriving early and
as they did they were herded to their spots on the streets of
Entering the venue one
was overwhelmed with all kinds of great iron.
Plueger brought both his Nitro Nostalgia Funny Cars out.
There was literally something
for everybody including some blown fuel drag boats.
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.
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
Stormy Byrd's Revelation
The ever present Winged
One of Drag Racings 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
Team Estrus who owns the Beach
City Corvette also brought out one of their Nostalgia Top Fuel
Bobby Hansen's restored
"Wynn's Spoiler" AA/FD.
Don Prieto's "Hustler
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.
The Dean Engineering Special
owned originally and now restored by the McCloud brothers.
The well traveled Ewald
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
The car that started
it all - Bill Pitts' Magicar.
The 1965 Yeakel Plymouth Special
originally owned by Lou Baney and driven by Tom McEwen.
The Gruzen Family's "Mighty
Monica Mueller and Ron
The two popular dragsters of
John Ewald's "Maxed Out Racing" team, the BankAmericar
and the Mastercar sporting the big Firestone slicks.
Gwen McWilliams waiting
to get into the Howard Cams Rattler.
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
Bud Rasner, Doug Kruse
and Bill Pitts
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!
John and Rae were interviewed
by a local TV station for a live broadcast. Scary when it's live!
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.
Frank Baney, Jim Rossi and Paul
Rossi with Rae Gabelich in the seat of their Yeakel Plymouth
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
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
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.
Don Prieto in his Hustler
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.
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
PDA founder Doug Kruse
with Steve and Gloria Gibbs.
Bob Deburne's Paradise
Alley with Jim Kirby behind the wheel.
Cacklecar pioneer Bill
Pitts was ever vigilant on the safety.
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
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
do you have to shut it off, can we do it again"?
Jim Rossi, Paul Rossi,
Ronnie Rapp, Walt Stevens and Frank Baney.
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
Change of pace.... ????
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.
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!
Clint Hightower was treated
to a cackle on all eight in the Dean Engineering
Around the bend was the Mastercar
throwing flames out of all eight candles with Steve Patton enjoying
Sonny in his Swamp
Don Prietos Hustler
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.
Ron Arias was in the
seat of Bobby Hanson's Wynn's Special.
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!
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.
Gwen McWilliams was back
in the Howard Cams Rattler.
AA/FD with Mike Cross behind the wheel.
In the seat of the Magicar
for the thunderous ride was John Deats.
back for more event coverage as they happen.
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.