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Event Report by Bill Pitts

Hello Race Fans:

I truly don't know how else to explain it. If all the teams left the event "money ahead" I'd say there was hope that we could see the show again the following year. If we could at least help the teams to break even--maybe they'd be back. But for the past two years (and this year included), Escondido "Cruisin' Grand"'s NITRO NIGHT" hasn't even been about breaking even. So what other reason could there be--but love!

How else can you explain the continued effort on the part of teams "long in the tooth", that bring spectacular yet safe, nitro burning relics from drag racing's golden age, to the streets of Escondido. It's as if these teams are bent on not just stopping the clock, but rolling it back 50 years to a time when they and their cars were tearing up now extinct southland drag strips almost every weekend of the year! They work between events to maintain a safe and reliable "top eliminator" car. Be it fuel dragster or fuel altered, nitromethane is the taskmaster and it draws a line in the sand that no team dare cross or disaster could occur. Yep, there's something beyond "economics" at work here.

"Nitro Night" 2011, happened on Friday September 23rd. The following teams assembled and made their way down for this annual migration of fuelers to the intersection of Broadway and Grand Avenue in downtown Escondido, California. They were:

Tommy Allen "Trick Car" AA/FD Tommy Allen
Tommy Ivo's Barnstormer AA/FD Ron Johnson
Shubert & Herbert AA/FD Ron Johnson
Wynn's Spoiler AA/FD Bobby Hansen
Paradise Alley AA/FD Bob DeBurn
Yeakel Plymouth Spec. AA/FD Baney, Rossi, and Goebel
Marvin Schwartz "Anaconda" AA/FD Bob Hirsch
ChiZler AA/FD Ron Johnson
Magicar AA/FD Bill Pitts
Woody Tribute Car AA/FD Jay Carpenter
Syndicate AA/FD Ken Blackmore
Tocco, Harper, Garten AA/FA Mike Tocco
Nanook III AA/FA Gary Cervany
Iron Horse AA/FD Sam Chastain

And on display: The Cook & Bedwell recreation of Ray Lake. Builder: Dode Martin.

The streets closed at 3 p.m. and the transporters unloaded in this one city block long "arena" set up to recreate a little of everything short of the "green light". As the cars fueled up for the first "single" push downs, Mother Nature saw fit to shower the cars and stars of drag racing's past. But yours truly sprung to life and scared the clouds away with a rain dance yielding style points of near zero. Slowly but surely Broadway dried, much to the delight of those present.

And after a brief "driver's meeting", the first two cars backed to the fire up area, where period correct push cars awaited them. Each car fired and made a "qualifying single" which amounted to a gentle push towards the starting line--a dress rehearsal in preparation for the pairings that night.

One of "Nitro Night's" unique aspects is the goal of recreating the tension of the starting line. A time when all eyes are focused on the competitors while they wait out the starter's flag or green light that signals the beginning of "a pass". Other aspects that add to the show's unique feel are the hometown atmosphere of downtown Escondido, as well as the active pit area and push from the darkness into the light just before the "starting line".

Steve Waldron of Escondido's Cruisin' Grand worked hard to acquire the funds that helped to partially cover some of the team's expenses, and Ron Johnson worked to assemble this group of fine cackle cars. Connie Braun, President of the Cacklecar Owner's Alliance, took care of insurance needs as well as waiver forms and wristbands. Donnie Irvin and Jack White worked the arena, keeping their eyes peeled for safety issues. And a crew of volunteers kept the very substantial crowd under control.

Then after a brief cool down, the pairings began at 7:30 p.m. sharp. Lone "single runs" conducted in the midst of the pairings were performed by the beautiful Anaconda and a final "two in one" single--by the amazing "Syndicate" twin.

Not one fan left the scene until the Syndicate's twin hemis rolled to a halt, ending the show at around 8:30 p.m.

All teams packed up and left the scene by 10 p.m. and I loaded my brooms, shovels, and kitty litter, happy that no oil downs occurred.

My thanks to all those teams who brought a portion of golden age night time drag racing back to life, for all those present to enjoy.

Sincerely, Bill Pitts






Sam Chastain (right) got some help from Bobby Hansen and Randy Allen moving his Iron Horse to its spot on the street.


The beautiful Carpenter, Blackwood, and Cardoza of Jay Carpenter (right) with help from driver Dominic Cardoza.


Ken Blackmore's behemoth "Syndicate" twin engine Top Fuel car.



Ron Johnson's Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer" AA/FD.


And then the rains came....


Bob DeBurn's Paradise Alley


Bill Pitts' Magicar




Fortunately the storm was a passing front and the remainder of the day was just great.


The new Woody car of Carpenter-Blackmore-Cardoza.


Sam Chastain's Iron Horse


Bobby Hansen's "Wynns Spoiler" AA/FD


Dragster row two.


Tocco-Harper-Garten AA/FA


The newly restored Cook & Bedwell A/D owned by Ray Lake.





Top Eliminator Row









Ron Johnson's Shubert & Herbert... one of the few small block Chevy cacklecars.


Shubert & Herbert with a new paint job.



Ron Johnson's "ChiZler"



Ron Johnson changing plugs in the Barnstormer.





Fashion statement....





Event coordinator Bill Pitts (who also owns the Magicar AA/FD) laid out how the cackles were going to play out to the car owners.


Newly weds Pam and Darrell Conrad.




First Session of Cackle


First out was Gary Cerveney in Nanook III AA/FA.




The man in the red jacket is Lyn Christy. He was a flag starter at old San Diego Raceway in Ramona.



Lining up with Nanook was the Tocco-Harper-Garten AA/FA with Roger Garten in the seat.




In the seat of Bill Pitts Magicar was John Strom subbing for Jeep Hampshire.








The new Carpenter-Blackmore-Cardoza car with Dominic Cardoza driving.






Bobby Hansen occupied the seat of the Shubert & Herbert car of Ron Johnson.







As usual, Paul Rossi was in the Yeakel Plymouth Spec.







Kol Johnson got a turn in the seat of the ChiZler.







Jim Kirby was in Paradise Alley.








Bob Hirsch was in his Anaconda and had Sam Chastain for help.








Tommy "The Watchdog" Allen in his Woody Trick car.






Kol Johnson did double duty as he was in the Barnstormer as well.







Veteran driver Jimmy Scott was a nice fit in the Iron Horse.






After getting out of the Shubert & Herbert Bobby Hansen got into his own car, the Wynns Spoiler.








The highly popular twin engine Syndicate had Mitchell Mosby in the seat.








Night Session Cackles

All the same drivers as the first session







































Next stop the CHRR at Bakersfield




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