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Bowling 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 Saturday night.

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 Park

 

 

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 around.

 

 

 

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.

 

Another "official" 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 quarter mile.

 

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.

 

 

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 was on hand with his Scorpion I repop and right there with him was Bobby and Ruth Langley.

 


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 Dear.

 

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.

 

 

 

Trasin's "Mongoose" 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 for Cacklefest.

 

 

Cacklefest officially 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.

 

Ron Johnson, who arranged and bankrolled the running restoration of the car, started the engine (which came out of John Loukas' Fuel Coupe).

 

 

 

Karamesines, in the car for the first time in 45 years, truly enjoyed his four minute cackle.

 

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 a sip.

 

As always, Steve Gibbs was on hand to oversee the fire-ups.

 

Greek chats with Dale Emery, Jim Adolph, Kenny Safford and Pat Foster.

 

 

More Chizler/Karamesines from Bowling Green

 

Orangeline

 

Check back for more event coverage as they happen.

 

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