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Honoree Awards & Hotel Cackles

 

Bakersfield, CA - 10/24/11: The 20th edition of the California Hot Rod Reunion disappointed no one. It lived up to its rock star billing and then some. The weekend featured Chamber of Commerce weather and a race track second to none. There was no doubt that Auto Club Famoso Raceway operators Blake and John Bowser had their facility ready for what was the largest CHRR ever.

Unlike the March Meet, the CHRR is more than a race. Its a race within a reunion where old friends meet, new friends are made and those no longer with us honored. A huge part of the history/friendship aspect is the now legendary original Cacklefest now in its eleventh year. And as in years past, the sheer numbers of restored and recreated dragsters grew to over 80.

Add to that the hard working folks from the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum and the crew at Famoso insured those in attendance enjoyed 3 full days of great racing, tons of cacklecars and the reason the reunion started in the first place, friends getting together while we still can.

Another tradition is Friday night at the CHRR which is one of drag racings major social events of the year. Hosted at the DoubleTree Hotel, the Honoree Awards Ceremony always draws the who's-who of drag racing.

The 2011 Honorees were Harry Hibler, Dwight Salisbury, John Peters, Wayne King and George Santos, who unfortunately passed away just a couple weeks shy of the Reunion, his family participated in his memory. Steve Gibbs was the Grand Marshall.

The Honorees Ceremony also kicks off the official start of Cacklefest. We will start at the beginning and share some of what went on inside before the cacklecars started outside.

 

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HONOREES

 

After getting the SRO room to settle, MC Dave McClelland got things rolling.

 

Track and museum sponsor AAA was represented by Rick Lalor.

 

After being introduced, Greg Sharp got somewhat embarrassed with a surprise Happy Birthday cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Tom Ivo and Ed Justice Jr. come out you know its time for the Justice Bros. Car Care Products Spotlight Award for a contribution to the early days of drag racing and continued dedication to the sport.

 

 

 

The 2011 winners were more than deserving - the Chrisman family led by Art.

 

Lana Chrisman, daughter of Jack Chrisman, Mike Chrisman (Art's only kid), Steve Chrisman son of Jack and of course, Art.

 

 

For those who have been following Art's health battles, it was nothing short of a miracle that he was able to be here at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A few years ago The Surfers were honored - Bob Skinner and Tom Jobe, but with Mike Sorokin no longer with us he was not included per se. That was corrected this year when Mike's son, Adam took home his dads Wally.

 

 

 

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The first Honoree from the Class of 2011 was Harry Hibler.

”Hand Grenade” Harry Hibler has been involved in all aspects of hot rodding and drag racing. He started as a tech inspector at San Fernando Drag Strip under co-managers Frank Huszar and Darrell Morgan from 1955 until 1960 when he became the strip manager for owner Bill Hannon. There was a 3:30 noise curfew imposed by the city and Harry became famous for being able to run eight-car Top Fuel, Top Gas and Little Eliminator shows every Sunday and get it done in three hours. Also, with an airport right next door, there was the occasional wayward airplane to deal with. Harry was also known as the racers hero because he was always able to hustle up tools, oil or spark plugs to supplement the racers winnings and even some occasional cash to get home on. The “Hand Grenade” title came from his driving career and the explosive nature of some of his rides. He did however, finish as Top Fuel runner-up to Tony Nancy, one of his closest friends, at the 1970 Bakersfield March Meet. After San Fernando closed in 1970, he moved into the publishing industry at Petersen Publishing for nearly thirty years. During that time he was responsible for considerable growth in the company’s magazines including Hot Rod, Car Craft and Circle Track. He served three terms on the SEMA Board of Directors, is a member of the SEMA Hall of Fame and is on the selection board of the Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

 

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Wayne King is another one of those tough Fuel Racers that came out of Bakersfield. His first Smoker’s trophy was won in his six cylinder ’51 Chevy, but he soon served as a crewman before driving the Martin’s Market Modified Roadster. With Martin and Roger Coburn he built a fuel Chevy dragster which held No. 6 on the Drag News Mr. Eliminator list. In 1961 he helped Ernie Hashim with a Stuckey-chassied Sorrell-bodied Top Fuel dragster that became the M&H Tires test car. In 1963 he was hired by Chuck Doss and Del Clayton of Santa Maria to drive the former Ed’s Muffler dragster. The team of Doss, Clayton and King was born and won many races up and down the California coast. In 1965 Ed Donovan hired him to drive and they won the 1965 PDA Championship at Lions over 150 Top Fuel dragsters. When drivers all had animal nicknames, Ralph Guldahl named him “The Peregrine” and it stuck. He worked as a machinist for Donovan Engineering for three years and calls it a tremendous learning experience. King also drove for Bakersfield racers Bill Crossley, Chuck Holloway, Warren and Crowe, and Tony Waters. After a brief episode with a Funny Car, he moved to Washington in 1971 and won the Division 6 Pro Comp Championship. He attended the first CHRR with his Doss, Clayton and King dragster and has since become a regular participant in CHRR Cacklefests

 

 

 

 

 

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John Peters came out of the Venice and West L.A. area that produced such legendary hot rodders as Leonard Harris, Gene Adams, Stu Hilborn and the Surfers. He was an employee of Engle Cams for over twenty years and began racing with a Willys sedan gasser. He is of course, best known for the “Freight Train” twin-engine gas dragster, perhaps the most dominant in the sports history. The list of accomplishments and superlatives is endless: First over 180, 190 and 200 mph on gas, first in the 7’s, and first in the 6’s. Although John was listed as the driver who won the ’63 Winternationals for years, he never drove and was actually covering up for Bob Muravez’s family situation which forbade him to drive. Including Muravez, thirteen different drivers took the wheel of the Train, including Bob Brissette, Craig Breedlove, Tom McEwen, Mickey Thompson, Goob Tuller and Sam Davis. Today John and his family operate Freight Train Racing Engines in Northern California. Peters and his wife Bev restored the Freight Train in the early ‘90s and have been active participants in Hot Rod Reunions both in Bakersfield and Bowling Green.

 

 

 

 

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Dwight Salisbury began his career driving a ’34 coupe altered for his club the Bel Airs of Glendale. He built his own Top Fuel car in the mid-‘60s based on a series of articles that ran in Hot Rod Magazine. Over a twenty year career he successfully made the transition from front engine to rear engine dragsters. He appeared in three national event finals and won the 1973 Bakersfield March Meet Top Fuel title. He’s joined the Cragar Five Second Club with a 5.97 run at Pomona during the ’74 Winternationals driving his own Salisbury’s Stake dragster. He toured nationally with the Smothers Bros. /Beach Boys car, and also drove for Gaines Markley, Jim and Alison Lee and Ray Fisher. He built and tuned his own engines and had a reputation as one of the sports best leavers.

 

 

 

 

 

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George Santos drag racing career dates back to the 1950s when he teamed with his brother-in-law Hank Vincent to race the famed streamlined Top Banana dragster. An ad in the November ’58 issue of Hot Rod Magazine proclaimed the Top Banana as the “World’s Fastest Chevy at 161.87 mph using “George Santos’ 306 cu. in. Chevy”. His S&S Automotive located in the San Francisco Bay Area, became renowned for its prowess with the small block Chevrolet. He built a small-block-Chevy-powered Top Alcohol dragster in 1984 which his son Rick drove to their first win at the ’86 Winternationals. The car went on to seriously challenge the Hemi-dominated category until it was parked when NHRA made a rule change requiring them to add 120 pounds to their combination. George was semi-retired from S&S but remains one of the top Chevrolet experts on the West Coast when he passed away just a week before the 2011 CHRR.

His award was presented to his family.

 

 

 

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GRAND MARSHAL - STEVE GIBBS

Since the California Hot Rod Reunion was principally his idea, it's most appropriate that Steve Gibbs has been named Grand Marshal of the 20th Annual event. He began his drag racing career in 1961 working part time at San Gabriel and Fontana Drag Strips numbering cars, fill-in announcing and submitting articles to Drag News. When Gibbs became assistant manager of Irwindale Raceway in the mid-‘60s, his former career plans in art and journalism were forgotten. He ran staging in the heyday of the Smoker’s March Meets when six Top Fuel dragsters would be lit at the same time; two on the starting line, two waiting to stage and two on the fire-up road. In 1969, he joined NHRA as advertising director of National Dragster. A year later when NHRA increased its national event schedule, Big Hook was appointed assistant to Event Director Jack Hart. Through the years his role grew and his creative innovation in safety, track preparation, and event scheduling played a major role in the growth of NHRA drag racing. In the early 1990’s he formed NHRA Historical Services to gather material and provide the genesis that led directly to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum where he served as its first Executive Director. In 1991 he received the prestigious Car Craft Ollie Award for career-long contributions to the sport and was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2006. Today he’s semi-retired and serves as a board member of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.

 

 

Steve's biggest fan in his mother, Selma.

 

Rose Dickinson, Manager of Marketing and Advertising at the museum presented Steve with his Wally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before Steve got off the stage John Ewald presented him with a real surprise. He had the cowl of his Mastercar AA/FD wrapped in a "Big Hook" motif and that would be on the car when Gibbs did a push start on Sunday.

 

Mario Garcia, John, Steve and Cynthia Carpenter.

 

 

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Backing up, here are a few shots taken before the ceremonies started.

 

Selma Grana, Steve, Cindy and Gloria (aka Gordy).

 

 

Big Mac and Fast Jack

 

 

 

Bob Muravez, Ronnie Heir & Hank Bender

 

Bill Holland and Ron Johnson

 

Cindy Arias Gibbs and son Juston.

 

 

Dorothy Mooneyham and Art Chrisman

 

King, Beckman and Gary Guinn

 

 

King and long time WCM crewman Dale "Baby Huey" Jones.

 

Sharon Muravez and Rose Pohorely better known as Rosebud of the Museum.

 

Marie and Gary Cochran

 

 

John Force and Steve flanked by Steve's grandchildren, Jason Arias and Kami and Kayla Rusk

 

A pair that goes way back - Ivo and Hibler

 

Kimberly Snively, Dorothy Mooneyham and Kim's mom.

 

Ivo, Broussard, Kuhl, R. Hampshire, Razon and J. Hampshire

 

Force and Salisbury

 

Darrell Conrad setting up his next shot.

 

Connie Braun and Marie Cochran

 

 

The event banner was open for autographs like John Force.

 

Kenny Safford

 

Kenny Youngblood and Ed Pink

 

 

Donna Crowther, Sharp and Beckman

 

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After the ceremonies everybody wandered out to the parking lot for the first "cackle" of the weekend.

 

Kenny Hirata, Roland Leong and Dale Emery

 

Yea, I was young and clean shaven - once.

 

Hibler flanked by the Hampshire brothers, Ronnie and Jeep.

 

Hirata, Suzi, Pam and Roland

 

Andy Brizio and Dode Martin - a ton of history here.

 

Gary Cochran and Kent Fuller

 

Rick McDonald, Ron Johnson and Paul Hutchins.

 

The legendary Isky and Morrie Carlton, one of the original drivers of the Banshee who came up from Australia just for the weekend with his friend Jennifer Watson. This was a gold moment, Morrie and Isky were discussing cam profiles and Isky was drawing pictures on the slick with his cigar.....just priceless really.

 

 

My picture's better than your picture....

 

Gwen McWilliams, her son Dave and his girlfriend Caitlyn.

 

John "Tarzan" Austin, "Jungle Pam" Hardy, Kenny Youngblood and Don Ewald.

 

Dan Kaplan and Kenny Logan

 

Joel Gruzen and Wayne Phillips who oversees operations at the museum.

 

Before the real deal, Bob Frey tried the seat in the Gruzen Cagle/Newhouse fuel roadster.

 

 

 

 

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Wake up all you weary travelers in the hotel...

 

Mark Williams was in the Rice & Williams fueler.

 

 

Ray Lake was in the Cook & Bedwell car. It took a few tries to light but once it did you couldn't miss the unique sound of nitro through carbs.

 

 

 

Dave Gruzen in the seat of the Cagle/Newhouse roadster.

 

 

 

 

The Preen family had one of the original Banshee drivers, Morrie Carlton in the car with Rick MacDonald on the tune up.

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Tidwell got the seat in the McEwen Tirend car. The Kuhl hemi lit for a few seconds then shut off due to a fuel leak.

And with that we'll go back to the track...

 

Untitled Document

 

 


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