Green, KY - June 16-18, 2006: As good as it was, the 4th annual
National Hot Rod Reunion in general, and the Cacklefest in particular
didn't exactly go as planned. For the first time in its short
history, the NHRR had two severe rain storms come through on
Saturday and Sunday afternoons respectively forcing the cancelation
of the final qualifying sessions and final rounds of eliminations.
It also forced a reorganization of the Cacklefest scheduled for
Backing up, the weekend started on Wednesday with the maximum
number of entries allowed (500 race cars and 1500 "rods")
beginning to fill every square inch of the historic and impeccably
maintained Beech Bend Park pits and surrounding properties. By
Thursday afternoon cars were being turned away and the NHRA Souvenir
Stand was all but out of merchandise. Friday was sunny and hot
setting the stage for what was suppose to be a dry weekend.
After the Honoree Ceremony at the Convention Center two of
the cacklecars made their official debut - Chris Karamesines'
"ChiZler" A/FD (aka 204 Car) and Al Bergler's "More
Aggravation" AA/FMR. Both were well received by a SRO crowd
of friends and fans. Photos below.
Saturday dawned sunny and hot but by 4:00 p.m. some classic
mid-west storm clouds rolled in and everything was put on hold.
When it was obvious that the track could not be dried out in
time to continue qualifying a plan was hatched to hold the Cacklefest
but without the popular push-start format. All the cars capable
of static starts would be lined up on the center line of the
track and fired simultaneously. It was the alternative to no
show at all. Photos below.
Photos by: Paul Hutchins, Walter Huff, Bob
Plumer, Vic Cooke, Don Ewald, Warren Merriman, Ernie Boughton,
John Ackerman and Roy Steffy.
Welcome to Beech Bend
Those who attended the
The Holley Pre-event Cruise-in Thursday evening were
greeted by Al Bergler's "More Aggravation" sitting
in the lobby of the Holiday Inn.
Bob Plumer photos
While Bergler's car was
sitting in air conditioned comfort, the other feature car, The
ChiZler was out at the track getting some last minute fixes and
lots of attention. Don Garlits along with T.C. Lemons stopped
by to check the progress.
Here Garlits laments
to Ron and Kol Johnson on losing this prize from his museum.
The Barnes & Gladstone
pit was hardly a flurry of activity. It was in the low 90's with
more than a little humidity.
The Steinegger &
Eishenbaugh team made the long trip from Arizona and were camped
next to Johnson and the Chizler.
The S&E team also
won the foxiest "driver" award. The other shot that
came with this was, to say the least, spectactular but not fit
for publication here.
The Swamp Fox AA/FD is
one of the most popular and nicely restored dragsters at any
event and Ralph Kitron is one of the funniest and most hospitable
guys anyone could know. Here's "Swamp Fox Ralphie"
(with black hat) holding court in the Swamp (his pit).
Another real beauty is
the restored "Probe" AA/FD owned by Ed Golden.
The Probe gang with the
help of Al Bergler, came up with the slickest dragster dolly
A first time "official"
Cacklefest player was the "Flying Englishman". Bob
Phillips is the current owner (and has been since the late '60's)
and he lives in Apollo Beach, FL. As noted on the side of the
car, the original owner/driver was named Bill Tower, who must
have been a transplanted Englishman racing in Florida. Phillips
bought the car, raced it himself for a year or so, got married,
and it then just sat in his garage for 30 years.
Eventually he consigned
it to the Garlits Museum, and Garlits returned the livery to
original. Other than that, it's "unrestored" as nothing
else really needed attention.
Philips wants to have
some fun with it at Cacklefest now, so he periodically reclaims
it from the Garlits Museum for such occasions. His son handles
the driving. Will try to get more information.
Cacklefest vet, Kenny
Safford enjoys a cold drink.
The Howard Cams "Rattler"
returned to service after a vacation at the home of Dale and
Anita Smith in Florida. It was left behind when Karamesines'
Chizler took its trailer space after it was removed from the
Garlits Museum in February.
Cacklefest debut was Floyd Head's 1969 Top Fuel car which may
be the best example anywhere of an all original, 37 year
old car currently being cackled! That's right, it is original.
Only some minor updates have been done to it as needed.
What you see is the same
paint that it had when he parked it in 1971. Same engine as well
and it has never been disassembled since its last pass down the
In October of 2005, Head
told Glen Cupit that he has had the complete car sitting in his
garage for over 25 years. In early 2006, he decided to see what
it would take to cackle it. Head told Cupit he drained the oil,
flushed the fuel system, etc and it fired right up. He has not
disassembled it since. . only cleaned and polished.
Garlits had his reconstructed
Swamp Rat VIII on hand. The original SR VIII was cut and lengthened
to make Swamp Rat X.
Don Ross was on hand
with his Scorpion I repop and right there with him was Bobby
and Ruth Langley.
Sy Sidebotham had his
Cacklefest vet "King & Marshall" AA/FD on hand
to not only fire up but make a short run on Saturday.
Don Ross and Bobby Langley pose with Langley's 2006
NHRR Honorees Award.
Ray Godman was on hand
with his fleet of restored Bo-Weevil cars including his original
roadster, Top Fuel dragster and funny car.
The legendary Ray Godman and ex-top fuel driver Ed
After some Friday afternoon
modifications to its blower snout starter, Johnson decided to
test fire the Chizler. Dusty McWilliams and Michelle Read were
on hand to help.
Don Trasin had his "Jade
Grenade" on hand but it seems the chassis broke during the
trip down from Ohio and the beautiful green car was out of action.
funny car was just fine and ready for Saturday's Cacklefest.
In the seat would be the man who did the restoration and drove
more funny cars than most - Pat Foster (below).
Jerry Baltes was having
a ball with his Tom Hanna prepared Croshier-Baltes-Lavato digger.
Norb Locke's "Grandpas
Toy" Chevy powered Dragmaster car was the focus of much
attention and ultimately helped the Greeks Chizler make the call
kicked off on Friday when the two featured cars - Al Bergler's
"More Aggravation" AA/FC and Chris Karamesines' "ChiZler"
(aka 204 Car) were staged at the Bowling Green Convention Center.
All honorees for the
2006 Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion gathered for an historic
photo at the Friday evening reception.
Photo by Michael F. Hollander for the
Wally Parks Museum
Following the conclusion
of the Honorees Ceremony a huge crowd gathered to see and hear
the sweet sound of two nitro burning hemis. The first to fire
was Al Bergler.
Taking nothing away from
Bergler, when The Greek made his grand entrance the crowd - especially
the old timers - were riveted to the ChiZler.
Karamesines, in the car
for the first time in 45 years, truly enjoyed his four minute
Following the fire-up
Sandy Shields toasted Ron Johnson for making this happen.
There were a lot of old
time friends on hand like Alison Lee.
Hubert Platt passes his
world famous "shine" to Dee Gant. Joe Jacono just had
As always, Steve Gibbs
was on hand to oversee the fire-ups.
Greek chats with Dale
Emery, Jim Adolph, Kenny Safford and Pat Foster.
from Bowling Green
Ron Johnson, who arranged
and bankrolled the running restoration of the car, started the
engine (which came out of John Loukas' Fuel Coupe).
Check back for more
event coverage as they happen.