Through the extreme efforts of
Laguna Seca's Brad Littlefield and Melvyn Record along with some
compromises by Steve Gibbs, a first time Top Fuel fire-up and
Drag Racing celebrities "meet and greet" event took
place on the historic Cannery Row, a very exclusive piece of
real estate on the Monterey peninsula.
Driving down into Cannery
Row tells you this is not your garden variety tourist trap.
After paying $20 to park we ventured
down to the venues which were not far away. Cannery Row is not
a big area.
The Intercontinental Hotel was
impossible to miss as were the current occupants of its front
entrance lot. Garlits Swamp Rat III-B, Steve Andersen's Tom Hoover
car and Ed "the Ace" McCulloch's '32 Victoria.
Sharon, Don Ewald and
Jerry Ruth, Richard Tharp,
Kelly Brown and Bob Muravez
Garlits, Sonny Messner
and Walt Stevens.
Ruth. Garlits. Tharp
Steve and Gordy arriving.
A welcome sight.
The first hour or so was mingling
and friends catching up. All the while, more and more special
guests and fans rolled in.
McCulloch, Brandt, Dunn, Graham,
Petersen, Gibbs, Tharp and Ruth. More than a few stories here.
Don Hampton and Big Daddy
were added to the mix.
Gibbs family photo as ID'd by
Steve:. Gavin Tingey (Kaylas boyfriend), Kayla Rask (Stephanies
oldest daughter), Troy Kinder (Stephanies husband), Gordy,
Stephanie Gibbs Kinder. (Our youngest daughter who lives in Murray,
Utah), Steve, Debby Gibbs (Our middle daughter who lives in Coarsegold,
CA) and Kami Rask (Stephanies youngest daughter). It was
a priorty to Steve to have the family here as it should have
been for so many reasons.
Steve and Gordy with the legendary
Red Greth who's Speed Sport roadsters inspired Gibbs' love for
Local TV was on hand
to interview Garlits and tape the fire-up. Great coverage.
A little after 5 Sonny
climbed in and Garlits primed the engine.
A whole bunch of new
ears, noses and eyes were introduced to nitromethane.
Fowling the fire-up everyone
was invited to the autograph session with the attending members
of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in the courtyard
overlooking Monterey Bay.
The line for autographs
was constant for what seemed like a very long time.
Kol Johnson took the whole autograph
deal a step further using his Nitro Revival shirt as a walking
Following the autograph session
the hand picked Q&A panel took their place at the head of
the courtyard. Kelly Brown, Bill Schrewsberry, Ed McCulloch,
Steve Gibbs, Bob Muravez and Rich Guasco. Mike Dunn was the MC.
For the most part Dunn kept in
PG with a lot of insider jokes and innuendos. Great stories with
a lot of laughs.
Things got even better
when Isky showed up and that meant Garlits had to join in.
The "Free Cam"
story was told by both sides with not much memory loss. Very
Many stayed after the
Q&A for more face time. For us it was back to the hotel.
To cap the evening off,
Sonny did another fire-up to make sure nobody was going to bed
As a parting shot we offer this
incredible shot of 97 year old Ed "Isky" caught on
one of the two custom bikes that graced the sound stage. Drag
bike historian John Stein brought his restorations of classic
Top Fuel bikes Stage Fright and King Rat. Isky walked by after
King Rat was loaded up, and he was happy to swing a leg over
the Stage Fright twin-engine Triumph upon request. Melvyn Record