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Orangeline

 

The plan was for the blower start cars to be fired at one time and after they had run for a few minutes, the push start cars would be waved down and they would approach the starting line in the left lane, with the push cars staying directly behind each dragster. Each pair would make the swing behind the starting line and they would go up the return road in front of the grandstand to an area where the return road widens. There each dragster would angle toward the grandstand and stop and it's push car would stop on the track side of the return road. Cars that failed to fire up were to make half of the 180 degree swing behind the starting line but instead of going up the return road, they were to go out under the timing tower into the staging lanes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larry Reyes, its original driver, was in the seat for the Cackelfest.

 

 

While Don Trasin was sitting in his Jade Grenade at the other end of the track, Pat Foster was pounding the ground in Don's Mongoose flopper at the starting line.

 

 

Steve Gibbs riding herd over the static start cars before the fuelers pushed down.

 

 

First car down was Bill Bronson in the Bronson Special.

 

 

 

Bobby Langley in the "Scorpion I".

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Greth wearing his now famous Pith helmet was having a ball in his Speed Sport Roadster.

 

 

 

The Hilton's Hombre sounded pretty stout for a small block Chevy.

 

 

 

 

David Hoyh had the Swamp Fox hitting hard on all eight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenny Safford - the only cacklecar with Olds power.

 

 

 

 

Jerry Baltes is always a crowd favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although with format used at Columbus was good for the fans it sucked for the photographers. Very few cars were shot once they parked.

 

 

 

Larry Payne fires Gang Green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larry Dixon Sr. feeling quite at home in the Howard Cams Rattler.

 

 

 

 

 


Al Bergler in his More Aggravation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bo-Weevil failed to fire.

 

Don Trasin is now a Cacklefest vet in his Jade Grenade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garlits fired - this is where the Cacklefest turned ugly. The "push-start" instructions, clearly emphasized at the pre Cacklefest drivers (cars and push vehicles) meeting, was to have ALL the push vehicles stay BEHIND their respective cars until the car reached its final spot, either out under the tower, or in front of the grandstand. It is not clear if anyone from Garlits crew attended the meeting. As can be seen, push truck driver, George "The Bushmaster" Schreiber is passing Garlits on his right and went on to pull completely around and up the return road.

 

In front of Garlits the "Probe" and "Bo-Weevil" failed to fire and went out under the tower as planned. On track for some reason Garlits slowed down. We were told he thought he was the last car and could set his own pace. However this was not so. Ivo was behind Garlits in Guy Boucher's car and as he was being pushed the car didn't fire. He looked down to see if the fuel shut-off and mag switch were on. During that brief moment, the Garlits push truck pulled around Garlits. When Ivo looked up expecting to see the truck right in front of him it was gone. He could not see the Swamp Rat directly in front, hidden by the blower/injector/motor so Ivo thought the track was clear. The Boucher car still didn't fire, so Ivo waited to wave his push car off until he thought he had enough momentum to make it around the starting line and out under the tower to the staging lane.

Unfortunately Garlits was in front of him going much slower and suddenly the Garlits car got big enough to see. At this point Ivo hit the brakes but it was too late to stop and he hit the Swamp Rat dead center. One thing this showed, both Don and Tom were able to remain dead center in the track!

 

 

 

Garlits was stunned because he thought he was the last car on the track. He made the swing behind the line and went up the return road to the end of the row of cars totally in the dark as to what had happened. Ivo, meanwhile, after a brief stop on the track to be sure the car could be pushed, continured out under the tower to the staging lane.

 

 

The Garlits/Ivo incident aside, everyone else was out of their cars and having a good old time.

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, after a hasty conversation with Boucher, Ivo came out on the return road to where the Barnstormer was. There he was approached by Garlits and there was an animated conversation between the two. Probably not for the first time either, as they match raced each other all over the country for almost 20 years from 1962 on. Following this conversation, Garlits returned to his car and Ivo came over to the Barnstormer and spent the next half hour schmoozing with fans.

 

 

Damage to the Garlits car was concentrated on the fiberglass tail section below the push bar. Probably a fiberglass patch and a black paint fog job will make it presentable again. The Boucher car was was another matter as the nose piece was smashed down and the axle and torsion tube were pushed back. However, no one was hurt and as painful as it was to see the damage, tubing, aluminum and paint are all replaceable or repairable. Both cars will live to see another day.

At minimum, two factors played into this unfortunate accident. First, the Garlits push car should have remained in line behind the dragster. The second factor is as follows. We have been told that when Steve Gibbs asked Guy Boucher if they needed a practice push start, Boucher told Gibbs that they were okay. Gibbs feels that had the practice start taken place, the problem with the motor not starting would have been uncovered and could have been remedied prior to Cacklefest.

According to Gibbs, at future Cacklefests, a practice push start will be mandatory for all new cars and/or all first time drivers and also all new combinations of car and driver and proficiency of each start will be observed by officials. This seems eminently realistic and something that we have been enthusiastic about for some time.

 


 

Here Gibbs and Garlits have a Sunday morning chat, no doubt discussing the events of the night before.

 



Parting Shot: Front engine dragsters are very hard to see out of and have been running into the back of other dragsters (and countless other objects) all through the history of the sport. An East Coast racer named Joe Tucci was seriously injured in just this way in 1960 and Ivo himself has been heavily rear ended more than once. A driver was killed at Fremont when he was sent down with another dragster stopped on the strip. Art Malone was once hit in his stalled car very near the finish line. These cars were driven by watching both sides of the track and what was dead straight ahead was totally unknown.

The term "that's just racing" has been used over the years to describe incidents like this. Maybe we need to add a new phrase "that's just cackling!".

 

That concludes our coverage of NHRR Cacklefest V. It is possible we will be adding more late arriving photos so check back from time to time. We hope to see many of you at the inaugural Up Close and Personal Cacklecar Showcase at Irwindale Dragstrip on August 4th, 2007. And if you haven't done it already, make your reservation for the greatest show on Earth - the 2007 California Hot Rod Reunion October 12-14 at Bakersfield.

 

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