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June 20, 2015 - Bowling Green, KY: Every Fathers Day weekend for the past 13 years thousands of hot rodders, nostalgia drag racing fans and cacklecar lovers their way to Beech Bend Raceway Park for the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion® presented by AAA Insurance

Since its inception, the cacklecar portion of the NHRR has been an integral part of the show. Amid the quality racing and incredible hot rods fans can see these restored and recreated memories from the past throughout the pits. Over the weekend they get to see the practice push starts on the track. Then of course, the event is capped off by Cacklefest® on Saturday evening. This year marked another record number of cacklecars including 4 debuts.

Racing and hot rods aside, for Cacklefest.com the story started on Friday with the Honorees Night at the Holiday Inn University Plaza & Sloan Convention Center, the Reunion host hotel.

2015 NHRR Honorees were:

Gordon Collett - Grand Marshal
Ron Hope
Chase Knight
Ron Leek
Dale Moody and Sam Jones
Roy Steffey

We now offer our extensive coverage of the Awards Ceremony and the Cacklefest that followed, some great pit shots, practice push starts and of course, the Cacklefest Parade and push-starts -- for the first time in the dark. Enjoy.

*Thanks to the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum for the Honoree profiles.

 

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Honorees Night

 

Ron Hope's " Rat Trap" had the honor of gracing the hotel lobby.

 

 

Outside the cars to be featured in the mini Cacklefest later than night were on display. This is the first time there have been 7 cars at any hotel fire-up.

Prussian AA/FD/ Maynard Rupp (reunion debut)
Gary Cochran Rear Engine TF / Don Nosse
Tom Hoover "Fishbowl Car" / Steve Andersen
Texas Longhorn / Bobby Rex (reunion debut)
Jimmy Nix / Benny Osborn (reunion debut)
Gordon "Collecting" Collett / Gordon Collet
John Dearmore / Bob Muravez (Lippencotte)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roy Steffery and Maynard Rupp

 

 

Donnie Anderson, Bennie Osborn and John Dearmore

 

Don Ross who has restore/recreated many of the current cacklecars and Jack Chisenhall, owner of Vintage Air, and the newly restored Texas Longhorn with a couple of fans.

 

 

Dearmore with Paul Hutchins.

 

Here's a pair; George "The Bushmaster" Schreiber and Bob "Floyd Lippencotte" Muravez. There's some history here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the cars later, time for the presentations inside.

 

Jim Lee and Don Ewald

 

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Bob Frey acted as the Master of Ceremony and things got off to a rocky start with a couple of audio equipment problems. That was fine because it allowed people to visit more, late arrivers to see the entire ceremony and of course, let Frey be classic Frey.

 

 

 

 

 

A few shots from during the audio repairs. I'll try to name who I can.

 

It was great to see Jim & Alison Lee (waving) finally make one of these together. Alison is a regular but Jim stays home to "take care of the farm". At the end of the day he had a great time and vowed to become a regular too.

 

 

Kenny Hirata

 

 

 

 

 

Bob would come up to check the mic, still not fixed, back to visiting.

 

The irrepressible Ron Leek and family.

 

Rose Dickinson, Manager of Marketing and Advertising for the NHRA Museum. She would later be joined by Donna Crowther and Don Irvin.

 

Honoree Ron Hope and Family

 

Grand Marshall Gordon Collett and family.

 

Honoree Chase Knight and his wife Laura. This was the first NHRA Reunion that he had attended, regardless of which coast, and they had a great time. Saw folks he hadn't encountered in 30-40 years. One of the high moments of his life, says he.

 

One of the Sam Jones tables.

 

 

 

 

The other Sam Jones table.

 

 

Dale Moody and Friends

 

Honoree Roy Steffey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Gibbs and Charlie Dalton, his half brother who lives in North Carolina.

 

 

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As the room kept filling up, the audio repairs were finally done and Larry Fisher, Executive Director of the NHRA Museum made his welcoming statements.

 

Without further ado, Bob introduced the first Honoree, Roy Steffey. As engine builder and tuner for several successful drivers including Jim Marsh, Maynard Rupp and Eddie Schartman, Roy Steffey was one of the top nitro crew chiefs of the 1960s. He first gained notoriety with the record setting Logghe-Marsh-Steffey C/Fuel Dragster in 1964 and tuned drivers Rupp and Schartman to NHRA World Championships in Top Fuel (1965) and Funny Car (1966) respectively. Steffey and Rupp made history by winning both the NHRA Springnationals and World Finals joining Roland Leong and Don Prudhomme as the first teams to win more than one NHRA event in a season. Mercury’s Fran Hernandez and Al Turner hired Steffey in 1966 to be the chief mechanic for one of the first flip-top Comet Funny Cars driven by Eddie Schartman.

 

 

 

 

 

Greg Sharp did the honors.

 

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Next up was Dale Moody and Sam Jones, It’s surprising to think that during the Gasser Wars of the early ‘60s, that a couple of small town boys from Washington, Indiana could beat the big name stars from Ohio and California. Yet Dale Moody and Sam Jones did just that winning the C/GS class at the ’62 NHRA Nationals as well as the Street Eliminator title. They repeated in 1963 with class and Junior Eliminator wins as well as class in ‘64. Sam, his brother Mack and Dale Moody built their entry around a $75 ’37 Chevy coupe, a supercharged 327 cid Chevy small-block, and a B&M Hydro-Stick. In the late ‘60s they retired the GOLD coupe, but Sam found it in 2004 and after a thorough restoration it appeared as one of the Golden Fifty race cars at the 50th
Anniversary U.S. Nationals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ron Leek was the next Honoree and being a promoter and announcer, he wasn't short of words. After his first drag race in the mid-1950’s Ron Leek was hooked. After racing at the ’58 NHRA Nationals, he went to work at Al’s Speed Shop in Aurora, Illinois where he befriended many early stars of drag racing. After promoting a match race in the early ‘60s, drag racing became his life. He became a popular track announcer and Drag News columnist. Deciding that his promotion work was only helping track owners, he bought the Rockford, Illinois drag strip and soon renamed it Byron Dragway. Innovative promotions like his Gas Coupe & Sedan Nationals and weekly E.T. brackets that paid $1000 to win earned him the title “Godfather of Bracket Racing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONUS!

 

 

 

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Honoree Chase Knight is best known for driving a series of Golden Gator dragsters in the Comp and Pro Comp ranks from 1972 through 1982. The three rear-engine entries he drove for Al Lidert, used the unique arrangement of running the engine with a single conventional supercharger fed by a pair of turbochargers. He grew up in Hialeah, Florida where he joined the Cabriolets Car Club and began driving dragsters in the late 1960s. Knight was named Division 2 Sportsman Driver of the Year in 1976 as selected by his peers. He went to work at Crane Cams in 1967 where he is still employed as the camshaft and valve train development manager.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The next to be honored was Ron Hope who is a traditional hot rodder participating in many forms of the sport for more than five decades. Born and raised in Whittier, California, his first job was with legendary hot rodder Ak Miller, who instilled in Ron the go fast gene that has influenced the rest of his life. He began with a record holding Bonneville gas roadster in the early ‘60s and has raced a variety of cars there since. In the early ‘90s he joined Don Green, builder of the legendary Rat Trap Fuel Altered. Since the original would no longer pass tech, they agreed to build a replica. With Ron at the wheel, the unpredictable Bantam roadster has literally been raced all over the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The last to be recognized was the Grand Marshall, Gordon Collett who has seven NHRA Top Gas victories and to his credit is the winningest driver of all time in the category. In addition he won the AHRA Winter Nationals in 1965, NHRA Divisional Championships in 1964 and ’65 and several major independent races throughout the country. Because he racked up wins at such a rapid rate, none other than “Camfather” Ed Iskenderian, dubbed him “Collecting Collett”. Collett said he chose to race Top Gas for most of his career because he could earn nearly as much Match Race appearance money as the Top Fuel teams of the day, and do so on a much smaller budget. When Top Gas was discontinued at the end of 1971, he raced Pro Stock until 1974 when he retired from the sport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First nitro fix of the weekend. As with any Cacklefest the one constant is that he who makes the most flames gets the most photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow, the track....

 

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Honoree Presentation, Hotel Cacklefest

Practice Push Starts, Pits & People

Cacklefest Parade

Cacklefest Proper

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