after the first CHRR in 1992, the area behind the pit side Grandstands
was designated as "Memory Lane" and Steve Gibbs and
Greg Sharp brought cars from the NHRA Motorsports Museum to "seed"
the area... cars that were on permanent display at the Museum,
like Albertson Olds, Safford, Gaide and Ratican, The Howard Cam
Rattler, Chris Karamesines and the Speed Sport Roadster.
Cacklefest the concept was was
first tried in reality at the 2000 CHRR. Reminiscence of the
days when cars were push-started, nine vintage front-engine fuel
dragsters and crews participated in what was originally conceived
as a one-time event. The cumulative cackle of the nitro-fueled
engines at idle, sitting side-by-side on the strip, kept the
crowd on its feet, many in tears, well after the engines grew
silent. Cacklefest struck such a resounding chord with the crowd
that it's now the must-see event of the reunion.
A number of racers from the 50's and 60's had kept their cars
as they had raced them. Some had simply parked them when their
original racing career was over. Among those were names like
Chrisman, Garlits and cars like The Glass Slipper. As a sidelight,
when Nostalgia Racing first started at Fremont in 1982, Art Chrisman
brought his Chrisman/Cannon Hustler 1 and not only push started
it for the fans, but made a full-on pass with the car on a load
of nitro, running 192 mph.
the early CHRR's, Chrisman brought Hustler 1 and was one of the
key attractions, doing on track push-starts and making smoky
exhibition runs. This activity wasn't limited to Chrisman. A
number of others, like Red Greth and the Speed Sport crew who
brought "Old Noisy", the famed rear engine roadster
from 1957, Butler and Cortopassi with the Chevrolet powered Glass
Slipper and others. When not out on the track, these cars were
displayed on Memory Lane for all to appreciate.
At following CHRR's the group of cars brought to be living displays
of "The Old Days" grew right along with spectator attendance.
The movement to locate old cars and restore them also took off,
as the "Place" to bring them where they would be really
appreciated became an annual event and "The Place To Go".
In 1994 a "youngster" named Bill Pitts brought his
car to join the growing display on Memory Lane and added a twist
to the display that changed things dramatically. Bill had been
a teenager during the Golden Era of the mid-60's and, along with
his father, attended many races from 1965 on. Bill had a movie
camera and captured the images of the cars on film at his home
track, Carlsbad, and also at Ramona/San Diego Dragways and LA
area tracks like "The Beach".
These events made an indelible impression on Bill and in the
early 90's he decided he "had" to have one of the cars
that he watched as a teenager. He was able to locate and swap
for the "Magicar" a Kent Fuller car, originally owned
by Kaye Trapp and Ron Winkle, driven by Jeep Hampshire. Bill
restored the car at the Fire Station where he worked and with
help from old time racers like Gary Cochran and others, he was
able to complete and then display the car.
"twist" Pitts added to the Memory Lane display, was
when he put Jeep Hampshire in the seat and with the help of Rick
MacDonald, fired the Magicar up on a full load of Nitro, right
there behind the stands. The crowd went wild! Soon Bill was joined
in this activity by another team, Larry and Terri Anderson who
had restored the Vagabond, a Northern California top fuel car,
also a full bodied Kent Fuller car originally owned by Terri's
father. These two "teams" would fire up their cars
for the crowds, between rounds when on track activity was down.
A new activity was born, Static Starts!
Steve Gibbs and Greg Sharp dreamed up the idea of the Cacklefest,
it was the stimulus to bring together the cars that had been
performing the push starts and the smoky burst, and the cars
that had been doing static starts into one group of nine cars.
The static start cars installed clutches and were made capable
of being push started.
Olson in the Kuhl & Olson fueler.
Eshenbaugh in the Steinegger & Eshenbaugh restoration.
Dixon in the "Howard Cam Rattler".
Davis in the legendary Greer-Black-Prudhomme AA/FD.
Chrisman in his Hustler I.
Bennett in Ted Cyr's "The Lincoln"
Safford in Safford-Gaide-Ratican
so it came to be... the first car down the fabled Famoso fire-up
road was Jeep Hampshire in the MagiCar.
though only nine cars took part in Cacklefest # 1 everyone knew
that like the CHRR itself, this would not be a one time thing.
Here's what it looked like.
Fast forward to Cacklefest 2005
which featured over 50 cars that covered some 1000' of the Famoso
dragstrip. In 2007 over 60 cars are expected to participate.
Imagine that when only seven years earlier there were only nine.
After the last car stops running,
its a Cacklefest tradition is to invite the fans onto the track
and come they do.