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Honoree Awards & Hotel Cackles


Bakersfield, CA - 10/22/12: The 21st 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 a reunion that includes a race. Its a place and time 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 12th year. And as in years past, the sheer numbers of restored and recreated dragsters grew to over 80 in attendance.

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 2012 Honorees were Grand Marshall Tommy Ivo who was joined by Honorees the Brissette Brothers, Bob and Jim; the Mallicoat Brothers, Gary and Jerry; Jim Nicoll, Marv Ripes, and Ed Sigmon.

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.






Prior to the ceremony there was lots of mingling in the parking lot and halls of the Double Tree Hotel.



Left to right: Betty & Hoover, Carroll and Jim Brissette, Ivo and Ron Leek, who up until recently was the owner of Rockford Dragway.


Grand Marshall and the new Executive Director of the museum, Larry Fisher ham it up for the camera.


Bob Muravez, Bob Brissette and Tom Jobe.


Muravez and Don Ewald book ended by the Mallicoat Brothers. If you're wondering why so many of us have the same shirt its simple, Steve Gibbs and his Big Hook Traveling Acceleration Show, had Spider Razon make up (on special order) a one time run of "A Gathering of Geezers" CHRR Famoso MMXII Limited Edition, Nitro Alumni shirts and they are BITCHIN!


Evelyn Fuller who always has a smile on her face and hubby Kent who doesn't.


Honoree Jim Nicoll getting tuned-up.


Honoree Ed Sigmon's table.


The Justice Brothers Car Care Products/TV Tommy Ivo Spotlight Award winners the Stags Rod and Custom Club came en masse taking up three tables. They also had a great presentation in The Grove at the track.






Opening up this year was Rick Lalor representing AAA of SoCal, sponsor of Famoso Raceway and NHRA Museum.


Rick was followed by MC Dave McClelland who introduced the new Executive Director of the museum, Larry Fisher who was getting a baptism of fire taking on the biggest museum event of the year before his office had pictures on the wall.



A man who needed no introduction, Steve Gibbs came up to give a surprise (and well deserved) award to John and Blake Bowser without whom the CHRR would not be what it is today.


They were presented the Wally Parks NHRA Museum Board of Directors Award for their continuing contributions to make the CHRR a better event and for their efforts for drag racing in general.






This years Justice Brothers Car Care Products/TV Tommy Ivo Spotlight Award shined on the Stags Rod and Custom Club of Ogden, Utah. Founded by six young hot rodders in 1957, the Stags was almost a carbon copy of Wally Parks’ plan to gain respectability for hot rodding.

They have participated in NHRA projects including the International Car Club Association in the 1960s and were the subject of a Hot Rod Magazine salute in 1963. They maintain their own clubhouse and shop in Roy, Utah and for years raced a blown-Chrysler powered ’40 Ford coupe in the supercharged Gas classes. Long-time member Jack Harris is a multi-time winner of the Top Fuel category at the California Hot Rod Reunion.



Dale Hammon accepeted the award in behalf of the club.








First up was quarter-mile showman T.V. Tommy Ivo, Grand Marshal of the 21st California Hot Rod Reunion presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California.

"I'm like a kid in a candy store since hearing the news," Ivo said. "I still can't believe it but it'll sure be fun to join in the festivities as it always is a great time at the Reunions."

Ivo's first drag race was 60 years ago in a 66 mph ’52 Buick at Saugus Drag Strip. His last race was 30 years ago on his farewell tour in his Showboat four-engine Buick station wagon.

Tommy was always the "Best in Show" on the quarter-mile bringing spectacular burnouts and wild runs for drag racing fans throughout the 60s and 70s.

In between there were 36 different cars in 12 different classes. His Model T street roadster earned countless drag race and car show trophies, as well as magazine features and movie appearances.

At about the same time his racing career launched, Ivo had already starred in nearly 100 motion pictures and more than 200 television programs, including Disney's Mickey Mouse Club, My Little Margie, the Donna Reed Show, and the Danny Thomas Show. His Hollywood fame, earned him the nickname “T.V. Tommy” and he became the first touring professional.

Driving gas dragsters, he won Top Gas at the first Bakersfield March Meet in 1959, was the first to run under nine seconds, the first over 170 mph and the first over 180 mph. In 1960 he was first to crisscross the country with a nationwide season long tour.

Moving to the fuel ranks he was first in the 7-second bracket and first to exceed 190 mph. He won the 1964 British Drag Festival and he and Don Garlits match raced as many as seventy two times in a single season.

He built, tuned, drove and maintained his own equipment. In 1972 he became the first member of the Cragar Five Second Club and survived a horrific 240 mph crash at Pomona without a scratch. When dragster popularity waned in the mid-‘70s, Ivo switched to Funny Cars, and finally a state of the art jet dragster.

He is one of NHRA’s Top 50 Drivers and won Top Gas at the first Bakersfield March Meet in 1959, was the first to run under nine seconds, the first over 170 mph and the first over 180 mph. After 30 years of drag racing he retired, leaving behind a legacy of professionalism and showmanship that paved the way for the corporate sponsorships of today and making him the perfect California Hot Rod Reunion Grand Marshal.


If you know your hero and mine then you would expect a taste of Ivo's legendary story telling and he did not disappoint.
















The honorees were introduced in alphabetical order starting with the Brissette Brothers, Bob and Jim. Both have etched their names into racing history. Jim more so in drag racing and Bob in the LSR world.










If you know anything about the wild gas/supercharged classes then you know the exploits and success of the Mallicoat Brothers. The Prescott, Ariz. natives started racing in the 1960s and kicked their careers off right, winning back-to-back NHRA Winternationals titles in the B/GS classes. The '65 victory was especially memorable as it was the first time a turbo-charged race car was successful at an NHRA event.

Success followed them throughout the '70s and '80s as they ran the Top Alcohol Funny Car class. In the '90s, the Mallicoats moved to Nostalgia with the Goodguys and the NHRA Heritage classes, most recently earning the 2006 Good Guys AA/GS titles.










There are only a handful of true drag racing legends and Jim "Superman" Nicoll is undisputably in that group.


Like Ivo, Nicoll is a great story teller. He may not as eloquent as TV, but his tales of drag racings wild days are equally as funny.









Marv Ripes is a long-time competitor with some 60+ years of racing experience. As a driver, Marvin won several NHRA National championships and a multitude of regional titles, and set performance standards in a variety of classes.

Now retired from active competition, Ripes channels his considerable racing knowledge to A-1 customers all over the world. Marvin participates in ongoing research and development to assist A-1 in continually producing items that represent the best in class performance. His expertise in the fields of engine tuning, building and refinement make him a valuable asset to the racing community and to A-1 Performance racing transmissions.








Very few people have made more runs down a quarter mile than Ed Sigmon, and for just about every run that he has made his car has carried the name "Snarpeezel" on it. So, when Big Mac asked, just what is Snarpeezel? "I have no idea," he said with a laugh. "When I had one of my earlier cars built I told the painter to put something on it that would look cool. He came up with the idea of this little animal that look like it was haulin', well, you know. And if you look closely, it has five feet." No wonder it hauls, with five feet it ought to be fast. And no wonder Ed's car does, too, especially after years of racing in and around the Southern California area.




Sigmon shared his award with his long time crew chief.





To wrap things up, John Ewald and Bill Pitts presented Marie Cochran a modified Pete Millar cartoon crowning her as ground zero for the phenomenon we now call Cacklefest.


The fact she virtually forced Mr. C to unload all his left over racing parts so she could finally have her garage back created a monster. Bill Pitts was the lucky recipient of a multitude of early hemi and driveline parts that enabled him to make his Magicar a runner. When he showed up at the 1998 CHRR with a restored car that actually ran ignited a fire that has yet to burn out.

By selling these parts at a price Gary can only wince at now to Pitts, she truly became ground zero and as such was honored. No one will ever know how many bank accounts were mortally wounded as a result, but the fact is we now have well over 150 restored and recreated vintage dragsters from coast to coast that are distant cousins to that garage in Fountain Valley, CA.

Speaking for thousands of racers and fans, we thank you Marie Cochran.





Cindy Gibbs gave a last PR pitch for the Nitro Alumni silent auction that was set up at the track.




Every year new or special cars are selected to fire-up in the parking lot of the DoubleTree Hotel following the awards ceremony. Because Tommy Ivo was the Grand Marshall it was a no brainer to pick Ron Johnson's recreation of his Barnstormer as one of the cars.

Also chosen was the incredible Roger Lee recreation of the Masters & Richter 1963 fuel dragster.

Benny Osborn was on hand with his restored 1970 Top Fuel car.

And for the first time a rear engine dragster took center stage. The spot on restoration of Terry Capp's 1975 "Wheeler Dealer" became the exception to the rule that cacklecars have the engine in front of the driver. Terry and his long time partner Wes Van Dusen came down from Edmonton, Alberta Canada to take in this special honor.


Roger Lee took the seat of his M&R recreation.








Benny Osborn took the seat of his fueler and you can tell by the photo, rattled a lot of ears. Osborn, who wanted nothing to do with drag racing as of 2008, has turned into one of its biggest supporters.







I'm a little partial to Terry and his team as, when I was at Keith Black's, they were not only customers but friends. My trips up to Edmonton and the rum & coke world of Wheeler Dealer Speed Shop are stuff Ivo stories are made of. Back then the now, well known Bernie Fedderly was Capp's crew chief and close friend (still is). while VanDusen (in car shirt) maintained the hospitality end.

Capp did run a very stout FED (Nitro Express) that rarely ventured into the states but his blue, silver and red Woody RED is among the most photo graphed cars in the 70's. In 1980 he followed Jerry Ruth's lead and took delivery of a new Swindal car that would take him to a U.S. Nationals win... the crowning jewel in his long career. Oh yea, he eats glass but that's a story for another time.






Engine wiz Rick McDonald made sure that Ron Johnson's Barnstormer was alive a well for the one and only TV Tommy Ivo.


This might be Ivos final Drag Racing "First", as it's the first time any
car has been at the Doubletree fireup twice.







The highly regarded race car letterer Bob Thompson asked Ron Johnson if he could recreate the look of the helmet Ivo wore when he drove the Barnstormer. Here it is. Ivo was thrilled!


The Barny Gang: Jesus Ricardo Vasquez (Richard), Connie Johnson Braun, Kol Johnson, My Hero and Yours, Rick MacDonald and the ring leader, Ron Johnson.



Post cackle, we'll start with the most wanted list ... Paul Hutchins, Glen Cupit and photog Dan Kaplan.


Roger "Rice Man" Lee and the unstoppable Isky.


Some of the many Australian fans: Jude Preen, Steve Thomas, Ross Preen, Stevie ( Wombat ) Brown, Paul Hurst, Wayne Bezant. The CHRR is the most internationally attended event in drag racing.


Ken and Dave Hirata


Don Ewald and Ground Zero (Marie Cochran)


Mindy Beers and Mike English


Jim Hume, Wayne King and Big Jon Johnson of the Gas House Gang


Dave Jeffers, Spider Razon and Jim Moser


Dan Broussard, Wayne King and Jim Hume


Ron Hampshire, Rick MacDonald and the Greek's grand daughter, Krista Baldwin.


Jim Rodarmel, John "Tarzan" Austin and Paul Hutchins


Tarzan, what can I say?


Manny Maldonado and Larry Sutton


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