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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Dusty McWilliams and
Mike Kuhl & Carl
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
Jerry Ruth and Bucky
Left to right, Brett
Randall, Butch Maas and O. K. Doty, push car owner/driver.
Sonny Messner & Crew
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
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.
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.
Mike Leach in "The
Check back for more
event coverage as they happen.