Here a report from the July 28th PDA organized
Long Beach street event in the Bixby Knolls business district.
This is the second year the event has been staged, through the
efforts of Rae Gabelich, a city councilwoman and whirlwind of
energy. Toyota was the main event sponsor and they cross promoted
their other Long Beach event, the Toyota CART Grand Prix.
The Cackle portion of the event took up about one fourth of the
total space but seemed to be the strongest draw for the citizenry
who turned out in larger numbers than last year. There was a
long two block section of Atlantic Avenue blocked off. Atlantic
which has a center median is the main "downtown" street
in the Bixby Knolls business district and runs North to South.
The North bound side of the street was a two block long car show
with the cars angle parked to the curb. The Southern end of the
Southbound lane was more show cars, with a strong presence of
CART and Formula Atlantic cars highlighting the Long Beach Grand
The cackle area "pits" was in the North end of Southbound
half and the intersection was completely blocked off, both North
and South of the cross street, for a space about 200 feet long.
This was closed off with interlocking temporary fencing and all
the cackle cars were lined up in this area. This was done to
provide security to the area where the Nitromethane and Alcohol
fuel was kept and used. The Fire Marshall had created some pretty
elaborate requirements to be followed to keep the spectators
at a distance anytime a Nitro container was open.
Lots of heroes as well including Tom Ivo, Walt Stevens, Dale
Pulde, Roland Leong, Dan Broussard, Lil John Buttera, Kenny Youngblood,
Bob Kachler, Doug Fisher, the Hampshires and on and on.
Photos by Darrell Conrad,
Pam Schavrien, Warren Merriman, Doug Kruse, John Ewald and Ron
There were 11 cars present. From
North to South were first the BankAmericar and Mastercar of John
Ewald and Bill Pitts MagiCar.
At 3:30, the cars were
fired up one at a time, starting basically from the North to
Then Ken Blackmore's Poison Ivy
crewed by Jay Carpenter, Don Prieto's Hustler 5, The Barnstormer
and Shubert/Herbert owned by Ron Johnson, Terry Mastrejuan's
Thunder Chief, the Dean Engineering car of Jake and Jack McCloud,
the Ratican, Jackson, Stearns AA/FA brought by Ron Stearns and
a contemporary Top Alcohol Dragster.
Dale Pulde and Valerie Harrell
once again were helpful in bringing barrels of Pro Nitro and
Alcohol and doling it out to the participants. Each car got 10
gallons of Nitro. Everyone's fuel jugs were kept under an e-z
up in this common area anytime they were not in the cars trailer.
All fuel mixing had to be done in this location. Three carts
were provided to accompany participants fueling their cars. The
carts had rubber rugs to be placed under the fuel tank and a
qualified person, lead by Bill Pitts, stood at the ready with
a fire extinguisher as fueling took place, three cars at a time.
Overkill perhaps, but in a downtown business area with thousands
of people on the sidewalks, nobody objected to the required safety
Doug Kruse lays out the
"nitro rules" with Fire Captain, Bill Pitts looking
Bob Danly and Mario Garcia not
only helped with firing 5 different cars they were official "Nitro
Firemen" as they had completed NHRA's Fuel Handling course....they
were not happy with the very hot yellow firesuits they had to
wear...it did keep the fire chief happy.
With Tom Ivo MIA, Funny
Car pilot Dale Pulde fired Johnson's Barnstormer.
Don Prieto gets his Hustler
VI ready to fire with Tommy Larkin in the seat.
Hal Sanguinetti was in
Ron Johnson's Shubert & Herbert car.
Jeep Hampshire in Bill
Crewing the MagiCar were
Dennis Hespeller and Vince Yamasaki.
Linda Lethein, who grew
up in the Belmont Shore section of Long Beach with the "Ewald
Boys" was in the seat of John Ewald's "Mastercar".
Jim Igge (of Jr. Fuel
fame - Sons of the Rising Sun) was in Ken Blackmore's Poison
Terry Mastrejuan in his
slick "Thunder Chief" AA/FD
Bob Danly gave the McCloud
gang a hand firing their Blue Streak Special.
Monika Gilbert does the Make
A Wish car show supported by drag racers was in the seat of John
Ewald's BankAmericar. It was her birthday so they decided to
give her some real candles to blow out.
Ron Stearns in the Ratican-Jackson-Stearns
Not a cacklecar for sure,
but this contemporary Top Alcohol Dragster of Cartmell &
Wright got the fans attention as well.
The cars in place for
the 5:30 session.
The huge crowd was riveted
to the nitro belching dinosaurs.
Ken Blackmore had Poison
Ivy hitting on all eight.
Bluestreak Special got
the crowds attention.
Here are a couple of shots of
Rae Gabelich in John Ewald's Indy car. John's better half, Cynthia
Carpenter ran the fund raiser as they charged people to sit in
the car for a photo op and raised over $300 for the Special Olympics,
the charity that the event's proceeds went to. Firestone Complete
Auto Care covered the cost of having the car there and were a
major sponsor of the event as well.
Bob Danly and Mario Garcia fire
the BankAmericar with Chris Buttera in the seat. Chris is Lil
John's son and got the seat after it was offered it to John who
asked if Ewald would give it to his son....that's Lil John's
hot rod in the background.
Ivo was in his rightful
place in the seat of the Barnstormer.
Long Beach City Councilwoman,
Rae Gabelich gets ready for her fire up in the MagiCar.
Next to the MagiCar was
the Mastercar with none other than the Mayor of Long Beach, Bob
Foster in the seat.
With both cars barking
at each other the Mayor and Councelwoman had a blast.
Rae Gabelich, already having
had a "fire-up opportunity in Pitts' MagiCar, wanted her
son Guy, to have the same experience. He was seated in the Shubert/Herbert
car and enjoyed the experience completely.
Gabelich gets a kick
out of watching Guy's reaction to the fuel Chevy.
Kol and Ron Johnson flank
Rae Gabelich after Guy's fire-up.
Rod McCarrell was in
the Hustler VI for its second fire-up...this was his first time
sitting in a FED,
Bob Danly was kept busy
overseeing the fire-up of 4 different cars including the Thunder
Jake McCloud in the Bluestreak
Ron Stearns waits to
fire the Ratican-Jackson-Stearns - AA/FA.
At 7;30, the final fire-up was
scheduled with the cars fired in two halves. Alternating 1,3,
5, 7, 9 and 11 and then 2,4,6,8,10 and 12 positions. This fire-up
was delayed until the last possible minute to wait for the Sun
to go down, but yet finish up on time for the 8:00 noise curfew.
Cindy Gibbs Arias took the seat in Shubert/Herbert for this fire-up
and Cindy's high wattage smile is an indication of what she thought
Like previous sessions,
the crowd was 10 deep for the final.
Tom Ivo was back in the
Barnstormer for the evening show.
Blue Streak Special.
Crewman, Mario Garcia
got a chance to be inside the BankAmericar for a change.
got her first fire-up in her Dad's MagiCar.
Jim Igge in the Poison
Ivy fueler for the final fire-up.
Fred Muhlenhort of Racetec in
Oxnard, Ca. former owner driver of the High Spirit AA/FD (2 front
motored & 2 back motored cars under that name) was in the
Hustler IV. Last dragster was the Hollywood Squares AA/FD. Originally
from the East Coast, moved to Ca. in the 70's and built cars
for the "Old Man" at RCS. Opened Racetec in 1977 and
have built frames and bodies to this date. "Thanks to my
good friend Don Prieto for letting me slip into the seat of the
Hustler VI, to be washed once again in thunder and nitro fumes.
It's been 30 years. How I have missed it."
Kenny doned a mask for
session three in the Thunder Chief.
Rod McCarrell was in
the Mastercar for the third session. He got to see flames for
his second sitting in a top fuel dragster.
PDA Staff Ken Wynia,
Bill Pitts and event organizer, Doug Kruse.
All the ususal suspects.
Also on hand were some noteable
vendors including the premiere nostalgia drag publication, Full
Throttle News and the smiling faces of Ora Mae and Robyn Millar
representing Drag Cartoons.
Kenny Youngblood poses with Rae
Gabelich and gives here one of his on-the-fly drawings of her
HUSBAND GARY IN THE PURPLE GANG DRAGSTER HE DROVE. The Lion's
sign was the actual sign that stood in the middle of Lion's lanes
on closing night. Don Cook owns this half, he and John Ewald
split the halves of the sign on that fateful night December 2nd,
1972. Ewald's half now hangs in the Don Garlits museum.
Don Prieto, Tom Ivo and
Bill Marcel who tuned the Ernie's Camera A/FD when Ivo drove.
Richard Gutierrez, Tom
Ivo and Kol Johnson.
Tom Ivo, Cindy Gibbs
and Ron Johnson.
John Ewald and Rae Gabelich.
Rae holds the bag of money raised for the Special Olympics from
the Firestone Complete Auto Care Indy Car photo op booth.
Ex-dragster pilot and member
of the High Speed Motorsports Nostalgia Top Fuel dragster team,
Walt Stevens is always the clown.
Check back for more
event coverage as they happen.