The Cars

Event Photos








June 18-20, 2010 - Bowling Green, KY: The 8th annual National Hot Rod Reunion is in the record books and for many reasons, it was an event that will stand out in the memories of all who attended. The folks from out West will not forget the relentless heat and brutal humidity... as bad as 2009. However, the guys from Louisiana and Oklahoma said "What weather?" Which would suggest it is not unusual for people from the Southeastern part of the country.

They will also remember the over 400 race cars that descended upon the historical Beech Bend track just weeks after a massive flood threatened to cancel the event altogether. There were hundreds of quality street and hot rods that packed the areas designated for them and of course, the huge crowd that packed the facility on Saturday and a record number of Cacklefest cars that put on a great show into the night.

And since this is Cacklefest.com, this is where that great show is shared with all those who could not make the trek to Beech Bend and for those who were there but were too overwhelmed to take it all in. Most of all it is a tribute to the dedicated historians who shared their restored or recreated race cars illustrating to all that drag racing did have better days.

Like all Cacklefest's, this one is better seen and just talked about so without further ado - here is Bowling Green 2010 starting from the beginning.


It's hard to believe that just 6 weeks out, the entire Beech Bend Raceway Park was under water better suited for drag boats than any kind of car. Incredibly, and to the credit of many, the facility was more than ready to host the 8th annual National Hot Rod Reunion. There was virtually no signs of the massive flood that swept through the area and in spite of very hot and humid - in a word oppressive - weather the track was in great shape. Kudos to all the staff and volunteers who made this happen.










Fast forward to June 17th. Before the pits were half full, the first event was "Media Day" on Thursday where the press got a full dose of nitro from 3 cacklecars.




Ron Johnson and Morgan Watson, a local TV reporter from WNKY in the ChiZler V. .





Public Relations Manager Marissa Butler of the Bowling Green Visitors Bureau & Convention Center was one of the lucky participants to get a cackle inside one of the Reunion’s Honorees dragsters, the Loukas & Priesing.



Jim Rodarmel was in the seat of the Cupit & Cunningham car.






On Friday evening an annual Hot Rod Reunion tradition was held at the Holiday Inn University Plaza & Sloan Convention Center, the Reunion host hotel.The Reception featured a colorful and comical bunch of old racers and race teams. One participant said that the Reception should’ve been called Friday Night Live because of all the laughs and wit that filled the room. Even the cool and poised Master of Ceremonies Dave McClelland, the voice of NHRA, was at a loss of words when funny man Honoree Joe Jacono as well as Honoree T.C. Lemons took over the microphone and stole the stage.



MC Dave McClelland


This years Honorees were Joe Jacono, J.E. Kristek, Leffler Brothers & Loukas, T.C. Lemons and Larry Reyes. Grand Marshal Chris “The Greek” Karamesines.


Honoree – Joe Jacono

Like many racers of the ‘50s, Joe Jacono began his career with a hot rod roadster followed by a street raced Cad-powered ’40 Ford coupe in his tough South Philly neighborhood. At the first Winter Nationals in Florida in 1960 he was event runner-up with his home-built Buick powered modified roadster. His Lynwood-chassied AA/G dragster dominated the early ‘60s at Atco Dragway reportedly losing only two rounds in two seasons. After several successful seasons on gas, Joe began driving Biddy Winward’s Brief Encounter fuel dragster. In 1968, he won the NHRA Division One Fuel Dragster title driving the Barbin and Hayden "Hi Roller". In the early ‘70s Joe switched to Funny Cars racing Winward’s former “Big John” Mazmanian candy-apple ‘Cuda. He joined the Northeast Funny Car circuit racing guys like Kosty Ivanoff and “Jungle Jim” Liberman with his own Rolling Stoned Barracuda. The then Charles Manson-look-alike ran a best of 6.18 227 before calling it quits in 1976. Joe came out of retirement in 2002 when Bob Rosetty restored his old Funny Car. Jacono was so taken by the restoration that he went through a drag racing school refresher course and began making exhibition runs at the age of 70-plus.


Steve Gibbs got the honor of passing out the Wally's.


Honoree – J.E. Kristek

Bobby Rex accepted the award for J.E. Cristek. J.E.'s wife was sick and he could not be there. Bobby & J.E. are both from San Antonio.

Called by “Big Daddy” Don Garlits “one of fuel racing’s true unsung heroes”, San Antonio’s J.E. Kristek was a pioneer tuner of Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars. In the early ‘60s the CKC team of Carl Callier, J.E. Kristek, and Buddy Cortines earned the reputation of “giant killers” in NHRA Division Four Top Fuel ranks with their small-block Chevy-powered “orange car”. In 1965 Carl’s son Fritz joined the team and they built what was then known as a Factory Experimental Stocker. Using a rare fiberglass Chevy II fastback built by Bill Thomas, they installed a Z-11 427 and four-speed and went drag racing. Eventually with an injected nitro-burning 396/427 they ran low 9’s at 150-mph. In November of ’67 a blown big-block powered Don Hardy Camaro replaced the Chevy II and they were runner-up to Gene Snow at the ’69 AHRA Spring Nationals. Cortines went dragster racing and Callier and Kristek (the second “C” then stood for Chevy) continued Funny Car racing until 1974. J.E. came out of retirement to tune Jody Smart’s Top Fueler to strong showings on the NHRA tour in the early 1980s. In 2005 Gordon Chisenhall restored the CKC Vega and Kristek rebuilt the Ramchargers Hemi for the project and tunes it for Cacklefest events.



Honorees – Leffler Brothers and Loukas

After a street driven Olds-powered Model A, Parma, Ohio’s John Loukas decided to build a drag coupe in 1957 with his neighbors Neil and Lyn Leffler. An aluminum channel frame barely supported the Bantam body and the Olds out of the roadster. A switch to a carberated Chrysler resulted in ten second, 130 mph times. In 1959 a new longer tube chassis and a supercharger dropped times into the nines at nearly 160 mph. Within months they won the World Series at Cordova. Near the end of the year the duo relocated to Southern California where Loukas went to work for Weiand and Neil Leffler for Chassis Research. After a runner-up finish to Top Eliminator Ted Cyr at the ‘60 March Meet, at the ’62 event their “World’s Fastest Coupe” defeated the legendary Speed Sport “World’s Fastest Roadster” and set a 1320 record of 9.03 at 173.96 mph. That summer Loukas returned to Ohio while Leffler drove a wide variety of California dragsters and funny cars into the 1970s. Loukas and Bob Priesing raced the coupe out of Chris Karamesines’ Engine Specialists until it was retired in 1971. After 25 years on display in the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Loukas took the car home to Minnesota in 2000 where it was put in running condition to participate in the popular Cacklefest events driven by such luminaries as Leffler, Karamesines and T.V. Tommy Ivo.


Honoree – Tom T.C. Lemons

“If you haven't spent time with T.C. Lemons, you're drag racing culturally deprived,” said Museum Boardmember Steve Gibbs. Over the years, Tom “T.C.” Lemons has been “Big Daddy” Don Garlits most celebrated crew member and “the only guy Garlits has fired in each of five consecutive decades”. He went to his first drag race in Tulsa in 1954 and raced his own Chrysler-powered ’32 Ford at the ’57 NHRA Nationals in Oklahoma City. He raced with the best in the ‘60s including Southwest terrors Bob Creitz, Jimmy Nix and Bennie Osborn. In 1968 he and Connie Swingle went to Tampa with the intention of helping to build cars and trade labor for a chassis. Except for brief periods, they never went home to Oklahoma. T.C. became Garlits crew chief and of those simpler times he says, “I was the whole crew.” It’s been said that Lemons had as much talent outside the car as Garlits had in it. He was instrumental in perfecting Swamp Rat 14, the rear engine dragster that revolutionized the sport in 1971. He was involved in the construction of 19 different Swamp Rats and restored many of the race cars in the Garlits Museum.




Honoree – Larry Reyes

An early Funny Car Superstar, Larry Reyes drove such legendary entries as “The Kingfish”, the first “Hawaiian”, the Candies & Hughes entry and “The Super Cuda”. Often thought of as a southerner, Larry Reyes actually grew up in Southern California and made his first pass at the pioneer Santa Ana drags. He joined Tom Sturm in touring his factory-backed A/FX 427 Comet. Racing at Lakeland Drag Strip in Memphis, Reyes caught the attention of Larry Coleman and Bill Taylor who asked him to drive their Kingfish Barracuda Funny Car. Reyes moved to Memphis and next drove the candy red and gold Super Cuda which defeated the biggest names in 1968 Funny Car racing with a win at the Super Stock Nationals. Roland Leong’s first Hawaiian Funny Car followed. At the ’69 Winternationals the new Dodge flew spectacularly through the Pomona traps. Reyes was unhurt and they toured the rebuilt “Hawaiian” on the match race circuit and made a triumphant return to Pomona with a win at the ’70 Winternationals. Brief stints in the Super Duster, Candies and Hughes ’69 ‘Cuda and “Big John” Mazmanian’s candy red beauty preceded a new Super Cuda. In June 1971 at Norwalk, Ohio a front tire failure resulted in a devastating crash and a crippling spinal cord injury. In the early ‘90s Larry returned to drag racing in a Super Gas Vega and recently to the seat of a restored “Hawaiian” for Cacklefest fire-ups.



Grand Marshal – Chris “The Greek” Karamesines

Call him the “Crazy Greek”, the “Golden Greek”, or simply “the Greek”, Chicago’s Chris Karamesines has been one of the most colorful and popular characters in drag racing for over fifty years. He is a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He's still driving his 7,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster at age 81.






Following the reception a mini-cacklefest was started up in the hotel parking lot giving the crowd a taste of what’s in store for Saturdays spectacular Cacklefest. This year the two cars with the honors were the Jim & Alison Lee "Great Expectations" owned by Brain Beattie and The Greeks "ChiZler V" owned by Ron Johnson.











Kol and Ron Johnson, Jerry and Pat Baltes and Steve Gibbs appear to be searching the crowd for the always fashionably late Greek.







"Okay, just remember the clutch is on the left and the gas pedal is on the right"!


Art Marshall in the Lee car fired up first.







One of the trademark effects of the weedburner headers is the way the gallery clears the areas in the direct blast of the headers once the engine is running. It is literally a "no mans land" as the noise, concussion and overpowering nitro smell are simply too much to bear.











In the pits the Belle of this Ball was the debut of the perfectly restored World Champion car of Bennie "The Wizard" Osborn. The car is now owned by John Neas, from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Neas also owns the Tony Nancy "Loner" TF car. He bought the Osborn car at the big auction of Ralph Whitworth's "Winnemucca Museum" car collection. I think Whitworth completed the restoration that was started by previous owner, Larry Smith.






The cowl art work is incredible.








The newly restored Howard Cams Twin Bear made the trip east with the NHRA Museum team.



An NHRR regular has been the Barnes and Gladstone "Michigander" AA/FD.


The very unique 1950ish "Little Puffer" owned and restored by the Stevens Family.





Another Hilton Family entry was the Hombre AA/FA.


And the third Hilton family car was the "Little Honker".


Boogie Scott, Bennie Osborn and Glenn Cupit with the Cupit & Cunninham car.






Honorees Leffler Bros. & Loukas AA/FMC


Another Cacklefest regular is the Croshier-Baltes-Lavato AA/FD owned by Jerry Baltes.




The Wale and Candies resto made the trip up from Louisiana.



Speking of Paul Candies, here's "Tugboat" and Garlits beating the heat.


Bronson Special.




Green Monster 5


Bobby Langley's Scorpion I.



Brian Perrenot's "Gizzle Hopper".



Al Bergler's camp










Fox & Hulls AA/FD out of Chicago.


This beauty belongs to John Kaiser of St. John, MI. It's a Mark Williams chassis with Al Bergler body. Engine was used in Swamp Fox at previous events. Was not fired up at this event.




Jim & Alison Lee "Great Expectations" owned by Brain Beattie.








It's hard to miss the Tommy Ivo Barnstormer owned by Ron Johnson.








Johnson's other NHRR entry was the ChiZler V of Chris Karamesines.





Over the weekend there were several static starts in the pits.



Norbe Locke was in attendance with his "Grandpas' Toy" from Illinois. Norbe is the undisputed King of Midwest Cacklecar activities, taking his car to Car Shows and other events all Summer.


John Rowley, long time drag racer in a variety of classes, restored the Arfons Mill "Green Monster" a year or so ago. John is in the seat for a fire-up. He is continuing with the restoration to complete the drive train so the car can move under it's own power".


Bill Klein (Manassas,VA), crew chief and transportation co-ordinator in the car, owner, driver Bob Bilbow (Wilkes-Barre,PA) on the right. Lyndwood Welding Special is a '61 Lyndwood chassis. Built by the late Pat Bilbow (Bob's Dad). '58 392 engine.


Nitro Jim in the C&C car.



WDIFL.com photog, Paul Hutchins




Bennie Osborn suited up for the first time in over 40 years to do a test push start in his old car.





Like riding a bicycle...


Preston Davis made sure Ray Godman's flopper could still do a burnout.


NHRR Cacklefest Video




BOWLING GREEN. Ky. (June 30, 2010) – New dates have been announced for the three-day Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion. Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum Board members and Reunion Managers believe it is in the best interest of fans, participants, and sponsors to modify the Father’s Day weekend dates in order to ensure full-event participation and to present the best possible show.

The confirmed new 2011 dates are Thursday, June 16; Friday, June 17; and Saturday, June 18. The venues and activities will remain the same. Tickets will go on sale starting December 16, 2010. A full event schedule will be available closer to the event.

The 9th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, June 16-18 at Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Ky., is a three-day festival of speed, hot rods and American automotive enthusiasm. Produced by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California and located in Pomona, Calif., the Reunion is part of the museum’s “living history” philosophy, which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.

Unique among motorsports events, the Reunion honors some of the top names in hot rodding from the past and features a fabulous array of cool drag cars, street rods and customs of the historic and present-day hot rod eras.

Information, including a full activities schedule, entry forms and tickets, will soon be available through the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at http://museum.nhra.com or by calling 1-800-884-NHRA (6472).






2021 National Hot Rod Reunion

All Cacklecars

 Event Photos   History   First 9 Cacklecars  

CF Stories       Video Clips

Links      Tributes         

Cacklefest Guidelines

SEMA Chassis Builder Numbers 



Search for Cars or People

© COPYRIGHT NOTICE NHRA Museum 2005-2023All Rights Reserved.