Bowling Green, KY - June
13 - 15, 2008:
After a 2007 detour to not so nostalgic National Trial Raceways
in Ohio, the NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion returned to where
it started 2003 and most assuredly belongs - Beech Bend Park
Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Starting on Tuesday
trailers started to fill the ample and scenic pit area. By Friday,
between the race cars and over 275 street rod/show cars, there
was little or no room left - a good thing for the NHRA Wally
Parks Motorsports Museum and the Beech Bend Park owners. Other
than a real mixed bag of weather - from blazing sunshine to thunder
storms - everyone had a great time and Cacklefest and eliminations
went off without a hitch.
With the word
"Cacklefest" being used more and more for any little
event that has a few cars that fire on nitro it's important to
note that with the exception of a some NHRA national events where
the cars appear, there are only TWO true Cacklefest shows each
year. The California Hot Rod Reunion and this, the National Hot
Rod Reunion. Although the car count is considerably smaller here
in Kentucky, Cacklefest east does get bigger and better each
year. The quality of the cars for the 2008 was stellar and without
further ado, here they are starting with pit shots.
Bowling Green Mayor Elaine Walker
executed a ribbon cutting that officially started NHRR 2008.
She also expressed the gratitude of herself and the entire Bowling
Green area that the events was back.
Friday evening featured the annual
Honorees Reception at the Sloan Convention Center. This years
Honorees were Arnie Beswick, Gabby Bleeker, Charles Boogie
Scott, Bob Stange and Jim Walther, as well as Grand Marshal Dick
LaHaie. The Ramchargers were the Justice Brothers Reunion Spotlight
Award winners. The event was sponsored by the Bowling Green Area
Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bowling Green Area Lodging Association
and South Central Chapter of the Kentucky Restaurant Association.
A Hot Rod Reunion tradition is
for a featured car to do a fire-up at the host hotel following
the Honorees Reception. At Bowing Green Larry Payne's "Gang
Green" AA/FD got the nod.
Don Ewald Photos
Al Bergler Jr. got the
seat for the show.
Bergler Sr., who did the restoration
on the car, was overseeing the whole deal.
After the Reception was
concluded the crowd outside got big fast.
Steve Gibbs warned the masses
that this was going to get loud and to please step back.
Al fires the engine while
Larry Payne looks on.
The car sounded great
and had some nice flames. The crowd was awed.
Natalie Wiley and Preston
Davis get a huge smile and thanks from Venables.
Things at the track got started
on Thursday when the newly restored Stephens & Venables (voted
Belle of The Ball) was rolled out of its trailer far enough to
put original owner, Dick Venables in the seat for the first fire-up
of the weekend (and maiden fire-up for the car). The owners of
this beauty are Rip & Natalie Wiley from Eads, Tennessee.
It took them 4 years to get the restoration done - and done right.
"Tennessee Bo-Weevil" AA/FD driver Preston Davis built
the 392 fuel hemi.
Kent Terry, John Peters, Goob
Tuller and Preston Davis - lots of bench racing all weekend in
the cacklecar pits.
Scorpion V - owned by
Bill Crosby and restored by Don Ross.
Scorpion I - Bill Collins,
Paul Adams and Don Ross
Norb Locke's "Grandpa's
An NHRR staple, the restored
Barns & Gladstone fueler.
The "Burgler Camp"
was well represented with 4 beauties restored by Al over the
last few years.
Chris "The Greek"
Karamesines was there all weekend having a ball.
Making its second NHRR appearance
the Pat Foster restored, Paul Candies owned, Wale & Candies
Brian Perrenot debuted the newly
restored Perrenot Family "The Gizzle Hopper" Cad powered
The weekend home of Bob Bommarito,
Jan Brooks and Don Ewald. Right in the middle of everything.
And, only 50 yards from the air conditioned (yet warm water)
showers that can only be found at Bowling Green.
Don Garlits was called on to
ID one of his chassis brought in on the roof of this truck. No
idea if it was given his blessings.
Jerry Baltes always has
a nice pit area.
Glen Cupit really thrashed to
get his Cupit & Cunningham A/FD to Bowling Green. The car
was actually fired for the first time just hours before Cacklefest.
A popular hang out was the Tennessee
Bo-Weevil pit. Here Raymond Godman, Preston Davis and Bob Bommarito
share some old war stories.
On Saturday NHRA crew chief (for
Tony Pedregon) Dickie Venables showed up to see what this was
all about and visit with his dad.
Howard Haight out trolling
for a ride for Cacklefest.
Dick Venables, Steve
Stephens, Rip Whiley, Preston Davis and Eddie Wilbanks.
The Swamp Fox also took
advantage of the track for a test push start.
On Saturday Steve Stephen did
his mandatory test push-start and it was "like riding a
On Saturday Ray Helger, new owner
of the King & Marshall restoration, decided he was going
to do a burnout and short squirt. It was a good idea until he
staged the car and hit the throttle. Thanks to 3 alert photographers
the whole thing was caught on digital. This sequence of shots
speak for themselves.
Incredibly the car didn't go
turtle but did land hard breaking the left front wheel and several
body tabs. The wheel was replace and the car made Cacklefest
sans the nose piece.
back for more event coverage as they happen.
After the Cacklefest Saturday
night, Rip Whiley, Dick Venables and Preston Davis put Dickie
Venables in the car for a fire-up. The results were more than
cool for the Big Show crew chief.