Biggest Little Show"
Event Report by Bill Pitts
Hello Race Fans:
I know it happened,
because I was there--and so were a ton of other folks. The Escondido
Police department counts available parking places left in the
area, and came up with a figure that approaches "outdoor
concert" numbers for those in attendance.
30,000 folks, crammed into the old downtown business district,
to view a slice of what drew many of us to drag racing in the
first place--the sight, sound, feel, and smell, of a nitromethane
burning competition car. And these were no ordinary competition
These were competition
cars from drag racing's past. Cars that either ceased to compete,
many years ago, or are apparitions of cars that no longer exist.
Cars that made up some of "golden age" drag racing's
most astounding visions. Cars that were some of the quickest
and fastest, for their day.
Larry Huff's "Soapy Sales"
Tommy Ivo's Barnstormer AA/FD
Wynn's Spoiler AA/FD
Southwind III AA/FD
Tocco, Harper, Garten AA/FA
Beaver Hunter AA/FA
Thomas-Pritchard & Harrison
Schultz & Glenn AA/FD
Dan & Crystal Gerber
Steve Serot & Rick Bulluni
Thunder Chief AA/FD
Dean Eng. Special AA/FD
Yeakle Plymouth Spec. AA/FD
Frank Baney & Paul Rossi
Joe Schubeck AA/FD
The Poachers AA/FD
Joe Schubeck AA/FD
Cook & Bedwell A/D
"Normal" vintage drag
racing events usually take days. This was a "It was like
a magic act, now you see it, now you don't". With the streets
closing at 2:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, and opening again by
10:00 p.m. or so. Everyone hit the ground running, and before
you knew it (5 hours later) you were saying your goodbyes and
heading out into the night. That's unload, fuel up, fire up,
cool down, refuel, push to staging, fire and push, load up, and
go! It was astounding!
And with each car, came a variety
of young and old, hero and fan--all with the single purpose of
putting on the best show they could. This wasn't a drag strip
several miles from civilization. This was a city street and people
who never thought they would see it, saw a glimpse of drag racing's
Special thanks must be given
to Steve Waldron, head of Escondido's "Cruisin' Grand",
for presenting "Nitro Night" at the Grand Finale cruise
of their season. And for jumping through all the hoops necessary
to get the proper approval for this really unique street event,
and acquiring the necessary sponsors to hopefully cover expenses.
And to Ron Johnson for coordinating a line up of cackle cars
for the event that made such an impression on those in attendance.
Also Connie Braun of the Cacklecar Owner's Alliance for handling
waivers and wristbands. Also Steve Gibbs and the scores of assistants
and volunteers that took up positions of responsibility that
were vital to the safe operation of this very special show.
It was hard on everybody...but
the end result was achieved--a lasting impression of astonishment
and appreciation for "the good old days" of drag racing,
that was carried home by all those in attendance.
And that is why we came.
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.
The participating cars assembled
in a shopping center parking lot prior to caravaning into their
parking/staging areas on Grand Ave. This marked the debut of
the Ron Johnson restored glass sided trailer for the Tommy Ivo
A before and after shot
Once on Grand, the cars were
unloaded and the trailers moved to a remote location for easy
loading after the event.
The car that started
it all - Bill Pitts "Magicar".
No shortage of nitro.
Cindy Gibbs, Mom Gordy
and Connie Braun - the Cat Herders
It was great to see Cacklefest
newbie Joe Schubeck out with his restored car. He's liking this
Ray Lake, Rick McDonald and Steve
Gibbs with the featured car, Cook & Bedwell.
Randy Walls brought out his Nova
Funny Car to desplay and fire up to start the nighttime show.
It was great to see John Ewald
out and in remission from his epic battle with bladders cancer.
His energy level is very low but his attitude is back.
Not all the cars opted to do
the early fire-up but the ones that did were led off by Ellie
Stafford in the Cook & Bedwell car.
Terry Mastrejuan in his
New owner of the Climax AA/FA,
Scott Krenzer of Tucson, Az. continued the tradition of bringing
it to Nitro Night, now for the 4th year
Harry Burkholder in their
Roger Garten in the Tocco
Harper & Garten AA/FA
Dave Gruzen in the Newhouse-Gruzen
Tommy "The Watchdog"
Allen in his Larry Huff's Soapy Sales AA/FD.
Gerry "The Hunter"
Glenn in the Schultz & Glenn AA/FD.
Bill Pitts' Magicar with
John Strom in the seat.
Jimmy Scott in Jay Carpenter's
"Southwind III" AA/FD
Andy Humenik had the
seat of Paul Schavrien's "The Poachers" AA/FD
Paul Rossi in the Yeakel
Plymouth Spec. AA/FD
Kol Johnson in the seat
of Ron Johnson's "ChiZler" AA/FD.
Ivo was not yet present
so Mark McCormick got the early fire-up in the Barnstormer.
Joe Schubeck was in his
Bobby Hansen's Wynns
Dave West was in Jake
McCloud's Dean Eng. Spec.
Joe Passalaqua's beautiful
"Smirnoff" AA/FD with John Weidler in the seat.
Don Ewald was back in
the seat of the BankAmeircar AA/FD
A fan got the seat of John Ewald's
Mastercar for the early fire-up, didn't get his name. Ewald's
crew chief, Mario Garcia was in the car for the night show.
Harrison "Beaver Hunter".
Randy Walls led off the
nitro with his funny car.
Also on hand was the restored
Shirley Muldowney championship car of Dave Mandella.
The simulated push starts
were led off by the Cook & Bedwell car...
The one and only. TV
Had a great time on Broadway,
but nightfall is complete, the show is over, all loaded up and
ready to go to the next one!
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