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2008 NHRR CACKLEFEST


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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Natalie Wiley and Preston Davis get a huge smile and thanks from Venables.

 

 

Kent Terry, John Peters, Goob Tuller and Preston Davis - lots of bench racing all weekend in the cacklecar pits.

 

The "Burgler Camp" was well represented with 4 beauties restored by Al over the last few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scorpion V - owned by Bill Crosby and restored by Don Ross.

 

 

Bobby Langley

 

Scorpion I - Bill Collins, Paul Adams and Don Ross

 

 

 

Norb Locke's "Grandpa's Toy"

 

 

An NHRR staple, the restored Barns & Gladstone fueler.

 

 

Making its second NHRR appearance the Pat Foster restored, Paul Candies owned, Wale & Candies 1963 car.

 

 

 

 

 

Chris "The Greek" Karamesines was there all weekend having a ball.

 

Brian Perrenot debuted the newly restored Perrenot Family "The Gizzle Hopper" Cad powered AA/C.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Jerry Baltes always has a nice pit area.

 

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.

 

 

 

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On Saturday Steve Stephen did his mandatory test push-start and it was "like riding a bicycle".

 

 

 

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The Swamp Fox also took advantage of the track for a test push start.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Check back for more event coverage as they happen.

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