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By all accounts the crowd at Vegas were the most appreciative the cacklecars have experienced to date at an NHRA Championship event. They were bullish on Cackle Cars. Stomped, screamed, clapped, yelled, everything when the last car shut off. While the crews were loading up behind the grandstand, a lot of people took the time to stop and say how much they appreciated them bringing the "Old Guys" and showing them off. There is life after death! Too much fun!

Photos by: John Ewald, Dave Parker, Ron Lewis and Ron Johnson

 

The NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum display. Left to right the Bucky Austin owned Jerry Ruth top fueler, Kenny Saffords "Sour Sisters" Olds powered A/FD, Chris "The Greek" Karamesines 1968 "Chizler" and Leon Fitzgeralds "Pure Heaven". In the background, the grandstands for the LVMS oval track across the street fro the Drag strip.

 

There are basically three types of Cackle Cars. Original, restored and recreated. Here are examples of each.

The Kuhl/Olson car in the middle is just as it was when last raced, down to the original paint, lettering and decals. It is presented by Mike Kuhl the original owner with Carl Olson the original driver. Mike and Carl bring this car to a number of events each year and when you hear it, you know it's got the "Kuhl Tune-up"!. Let's give this car 10 points.

On the far end is the Ewald Brothers Bankamericar. It was sold in 1972 and recovered from its owner at the time in Atlanta, GA by John and Don Ewald in 2003. Bruce Dyda restored it to it's original configuration. It looks just like it did when Don drove it in 1969-71. It is one of the most active of all Cackle Cars appearing over 20 times per year. Let's give this car 10 points.

Closest to the camera is the Shubert/Herbert car recreated in 2004 by Ron Johnson. Some original parts were used. It captures the essence of the original perfectly. Proof of this is many people who saw the car in 1965 look at it now and think they are looking at the original. Let's give this car 10 points.

Complete documentation of each of these cars is available on The Cars page.

 

To the right is the main grandstand at the "Strip at Las Vegas". The Cackle Cars were located right at the end of Manufacturers Midway.

 

On Thursday, before the display was finalized, cars were lined up against the fence. The Magicar and it's push car "The Bone" on the left. The Poacher on the right and far right, Jerry Ruths personal hot rod.

 

Saturday afternoon, during a fireup at the Ewald compound.

 

Jerry Ruth's 48 Ford and Bucky Austin's Jerry Ruth car.

 

Ex fuel racer turned ESPN2 announcer Mike Dunn did a fire up in Mike Kuhl's dragster for the Sunday broadcast. It was aired during the race and Dunn had nothing but great things to say about the whole cacklecar deal. He told the TV audience that... "These cars are actually louder than a modern day top fuel car... at idle." He also related the fact that he remembers steering his dad's (Jim Dunn) FEDs back after runs in the 60's.

 

 

Over the course of the weekend several of the cars, including the BankAmericar did static fire-ups in the pits. The fans loved every one of them.

 

Ace photographer Ron Lewis, who's work has been seen in all the major magazines since the 1970's, asked for a cackle and John Ewald was more than happy to give it to him. Standing directly behind the roll bar is Greg Bovio, who accompanies the NHRA Museum cars to most Cacklefests. Thanks Greg!

 

The Chris Karamesines car being warmed-up prior to Cacklefest. Standing with hands on hips to the left is Michelle Reed and Dusty McWilliams. Dusty is one of the unsung heroes of this whole project. He takes cars from the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum to Cacklefest events and sees to it they are ready to "Cackle". In addition he is there to help everybody with a cacklecar. Standing to the right of the Chizler is Richard Randall who brought his two sons, Ian and Brett and the three of them spent the weekend helping anyone in need of help.

 

The beautiful push trucks were provided by the Hustlers Car Club of Las Vegas. The owners made their own push bars in anticipation of the event. The guys did a great job and the cackle cars that didn't bring their own push cars really appreciated them. On the left is Gary Kirbys 56 F-100 which pushed John Ewald. Next to him is Mike Brown's 71 Pearl White Chev Stepside, which towed/pushed Jerry Ruth. Mike isn't shown in later photos because he was out of the frame towing the Austin/Ruth car. Next is the O. K. Doty owned 57 Ford which pushed Butch Mass in the Karamesines car. The Red 48 Chev of Bruce Bartlett who got Kenny Safford started. There was one more Hustlers member there, who towed/pushed Pure Heaven. Chuck Toftey brought his Chev half-ton too but it wasn't in the display.

 

Mike Kuhl does some work on the injectors of the Safford-Gaide-Ratican Olds fueler, one of four cars brought in by the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum crew. The "Maxed Out Racing" team trailer which is well equipped with tools was the repair shop for all who needed it.

 

Long time drag racer and current Crew Chief for Morgan Lucas' Top Fuel dragster John Stewart watched as Rick McDonald and Gary Cochran warmed up the Magicar.

 

 

"The Poachers" rattles some ears during a fire-up in the pits.

 

Scott Kalitta found the cacklecars - "bitchin".

 

Jim Adolph warms-up up the Pure Heaven II AA/FA.

 

Sid Waterman and Carl Olson

 

L. A. area resident Sonny Messner was on hand with his very sharp Swamp Rat III recreation. Sonny has been a good friend of Don Garlits for years and Garlits built the car for Sonny at the Museum Shop in 2005. It is the only Swamp Rat ever built for someone other than Garlits himself.

 

Ron Johnson warms up his Shubert & Herbert A/FD with Dusty McWilliams in the seat.

 

 

Orangeline

 

Prior the the semi round of pro finals all the cacklecars were gathered in the staging lanes. Pat "Ma" Green got the thrill of riding with Steve Gibbs in the parade lead.

 

Peter & Yvonne Broadribb

 

Leon Fitzgerald

 

Dusty McWilliams and Michelle Reed

 

Mike Kuhl & Carl Olson

 

Kenny Safford flanked by Push truck owner/driver Bruce Bartlett and Bruce's lady friend.

 

Vince Yamasaki, Valerie Pitts, Bill Pitts, Rick MacDonald, Steve Roberts and Dennis Hespeller.

 

Caroline, Pam, Paul and Ryan (in the car) Schavrien

 

On the left, Hustlers Car Club member and push car owner Gary Kirby. The Bankamericar crew included Bob Danly and Mario Garcia with John Ewald in the seat.

 

Jerry Ruth and Bucky Austin

 

Left to right, Brett Randall, Butch Maas and O. K. Doty, push car owner/driver.

 

Sonny Messner & Crew

 

Orangeline

 

For the first time at a NHRA National event there was a Cacklefest Parade and it was lead by none other than Steve Gibbs who does a great job of putting the show together at NHRA's request.

 

First down behind Gibbs was Peter "The Mad Brit" Broadribb in his beautifully restored Moody's Garage D/G '55 Chevy. Although it doesn't push start or run nitro, Peter's Chevy is an honorary cacklecar and is featured at several events a year.

 

Leon Fitzgerald in his restored Pure Heaven II AA/FA

 

For the Vegas event Dusty McWilliams got the seat in Ron Johnson's Shubert & Herbert recreation.

 

 

Rick McDonald guides Bill Pitts' MagiCar past the stands. Jeep Hampshire was in the car for Cacklefest.

 

 

Kenny Safford in the Safford-Gaide-Ratican "Sour Sisters" A/FD

 

John Ewald in the seat of the BankAmericar.

 

 

Ryan Schavrien with the families "Poachers" AA/FD

 

 

Jerry Ruth in his 1969 Don Long AA/FD that was restored and now owned by Bucky Austin.

 

As usual, Carl Olson was in Mike Kuhl's fueler.

 

 

Butch Maas got another chance to cackle the Chris Karamesines AA/FD.

 

Sonny Messner in his Swamp Rat III reproduction. He even recreated the period correct Garlits push car.

 

 

Orangeline

 

Leon Fitzgerald was first to push start down the return road from the top end.

 

Dusty McWilliams in "Shoobie"

 

Following next was Jeep Hampshire in the MagiCar.

 

 

Kenny Safford

 

John Ewald

 

 

Mike Leach in "The Poachers"

 

 

 

Jerry Ruth

 

Carl Olson

 

Butch Maas

 

Sonny Messner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

Check back for more event coverage as they happen.

 

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