2000 Cacklefest Overview


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Soon 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.


At 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.

The "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!



When 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.




And so it came to be... the first car down the fabled Famoso fire-up road was Jeep Hampshire in the MagiCar.



Carl Olson in the Kuhl & Olson fueler.



Al Eshenbaugh in the Steinegger & Eshenbaugh restoration.


Larry Dixon in the "Howard Cam Rattler".





Steve Davis in the legendary Greer-Black-Prudhomme AA/FD.



Art Chrisman in his Hustler I.



Jeff Bennett in Ted Cyr's "The Lincoln"




Kenny Safford in Safford-Gaide-Ratican



Even 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.



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