A fitting finale to the Cruisin
Grand summer-long Friday night action series on Grand Avenue
in Escondidos historic downtown, Nitro Night ended the
season with a bang, or more like a roar. On September, 30th 20
historic nitro dragsters from the Golden Years of
top fuel racing were displayed and in a dramatic after dark on-street
fire-up illustrated what was so special about the late 60s
Southern California drag racing scene, an amazing spectacle from
long ago. Southern California was, in the late 60s, a hotbed
of drag racing. Young men were either into surfing or drag racing
or maybe both. Numerous tracks operated on weekend days and nights
allowing those who wanted to the opportunity to race on Friday
night, Saturday night and Sunday at different area tracks. Fans
had the choice of many tracks operating within easy driving distance.
San Diego/Ramona, Carlsbad, Long Beach, San Gabriel, Fontana,
Riverside, San Fernando, Ontario, Irwindale, Colton and Orange
County all had tracks for some or all of these years.
It was the heyday of push-started
200 mph nitro fueled dragsters at competing tracks with weekly
8 or 16 car elimination fields, national events with 32 cars
and a few special events held with as many as 100 dragsters entered,
qualifying for a 64 car field. Increased speeds and technology
obsoleted these front-engine nitro cars by early 1970s.
But the memories created among participants and fans alike endured.
20 years ago, nostalgia played a role in bringing ssurvivor cars
back to race tracks and car shows.
Today, most of these cars are
faithful representations of actual cars from the 60s, either
being restorations of original cars, or recreations of original
cars which have disappeared or been destroyed. Some of the current
owners and drivers of these cars were actually racing in the
50s and 60s and others just want to be a part of the representation
of those historic days. A few cars have been built simply as
a tribute to the era but not representing an actual car from
The cars pictured here were all
part of Nitro Night. One more time, owners and drivers had the
opportunity to show the fans what was a special time in their
lives. Grand Avenue in Escondido became the stage once again
for the rolling thunder of one of the most spectacular, awesome,
city street events anywhere.
Photos by Pam Conrad and Darrell