SATURDAY WAS OUR DAY
Saturday, Nitro Revival took
center stage at Laguna Seca. Activities included Rolling
Thunder Push Starts on the Hot Pit Lane and many static
starts throughout the day. This was capped off with the awesome
Line of Fire at days end that filled the paddock
with good old nitro. The fans loved it all.
The stage was set -
Nitro Revival Rolling Thunder
Push Starts on the Hot Pit Lane
Top Fuel vet Frank Bradley manned
the wheel of Steve Gibbs' '50 Ford to push Rob Bruins through
the paddock to push start staging.
The cars were pulled into the
lanes in the order they would push down. Kenton Greth thought
he was going to tow the Speed Sport roadster with a mini bike.
Thought is the key word. He ended up pushing the bike with the
car still in tow. Help did arrive and Kenton was in the car for
the push start.
On our way to the entrance of
Pit Lane we passed the pits of some of the road race cars.
Vice President of Marketing
& Sales, Melvyn Record enjoying the fruites of his labors.
Representing the early days was
the "Wild Thing" flathead dragster of Brant Inglis.
The Inglis Speed Co. car is a 1958 Chassis Research TE440.
The tire guys were there
but with nothing we could use.
Kansas John Wiebe "Violin
Car" owned by Don Love and driven by 1979 Top Fuel World
Champion Rob Bruins. Push car was the blown '53 Willis of Herm
Petersen. Bruins had the distinction of being the only racer
to win a Top Fuel championship (1979) without winning a single
event in that same season. Bruins had another unique footnote
to his career he was one of the few who never lost to
Jerry Ruth, the Northwests self-proclaimed King and 10-time
NHRA Division 6 champion.
Dunn & Reath Rainbow AA/FD
owned by John Neas and driven by Harry Hibler, who, while managing
San Fernando had become a Top Fuel drag racer. This was at a
time when safety equipment was lagging behind the potency of
what a nitro-burning Hemi Chrysler was capable of cranking out.
Certainly Harry saw firsthand just how dangerous it was running
the Pond weekends, but he loved driving Fuel Dragsters, even
though the one he drove was a grenade at times.
Harry then moved to Petersen
Publishing. First he worked at Car Craft selling advertising,
working his way up the ranks to become its publisher, then moved
onto Hot Rod. I became publisher of Hot Rod when Robert
Petersen was running the magazines. The publishers were like
the head of a small corporation. "The bottom line was you
had to make a profit for your division or you were in trouble."
Oil baths, grenaded superchargers,
blown up engines, failed drag chutes, and guardrail layovers
are just some of the occurrences that gave Harry the moniker
of Hand Grenade Harry. After his days of driving
dragsters and jet cars, he then managed egos while serving as
the Publisher of Hot Rod Magazine for 11 years. Harry was inducted
into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.
Sonny Messner's Swamp Rat III-B
had none other than Don Garlits in the seat while Steve Andersen's
Tom Hoover car had Bob Muravez at the controls. With the absence
of Tommy Ivo, Kol Johnson took the seat of the Barnstormer.
Lynn Bruch and Rob Bruins
Hibler, Neas, Schubeck
and Youngblood bringing the Dunn & Reath car to the staging
Bob Muravez - aka Floyd Lippencott
Jr was the lucky dude who got the seat of Steve Andersen's stunning
Tom Hoover "Hanna Fish Bowl Car". Bob has a storied
and long drag racing career that is best chronacled at: AKA
"Isn't that Harry
"Go that way. You
do remember that way?"
Bob Larson was up for the Arizona
based Bounty Hunter/Connie Kalitta AA/FD restored and owned by
Kenton Greth in the Speed Sport
I of his father Red Greth. This car inspired Steve Gibbs to not
only paint his '50 Ford SS orange but to carry the color into
the Nitro Reviival theme. For complete information on this iconic
car visit Speed Sport I on Cacklefest. To be noted,
drag racing legend Frank Bradley was driving the push car.
At 16, Red began competing in
organized drag races in the Phoenix arena since Tucson did not
have a facility. He did, however, participate in street racing
held at the Mount Lemmon cut off a straight stretch
northeast of Tucson which included a built start
and finish line between two cattle guards. Eventually
Red began building and driving winning drag cars
while in high school and joined the best known car club in town,
the Lords of Tucson, and raced in a variety of cars from dragsters
to roadsters to funny cars. Red became a member of the famed
Speed Sport Racing Team where he developed a roadster
in 1957, driving it to a speed of 169.11 MPH which was unequalled
by any drag machine to that date. In 1994, that Speed Sport Team,
and the car, were inducted into the International Drag Racing
Hall of Fame. That car still runs today and Red still drives
it at special events.
Kenton is an accomplished and
versatile driver on his own.
"Wild Thing" was included
because it should have been. A classic Chassis Research chassis
flathead dragster restored/owned/driven by Brant Inglis out of
Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Super nice guys who are having more
fun than the law allows.
Pushing the Dunn & Reath
fueler was Erik McMorrow in his perfectly restore GMC PU. Erik
is a one of the faithful push guys who makes our shows happen.
Dave Uyehara was in the seat
of the Raynor, Bishop & Herbert car that was a staple in
NorCal drag racing. Uyehara is another Bay area racer that has
been inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Dave honed his car building craft
and drove for Dick Oswald in top gas and also Oswald and Cohen's
AA/FD. Uyehara found seat time in many of the local top fuel
cars and even ventured into the funny car class during the 1980s.
John Copenger got the
ride in John Kiley's Ewell, Bell & Stecker "Wizard"
Pushing Ruth was Mike McClure
who is a member of the Nor Cal Hardtops who have supplied regular
push cars for many cacklecar events.
Veteran drag racer Sam Chastain
brought the Iron horse from his home in Auburn, California. The
car was originally owned by Dan Richins of Salt Lake City who
was a railroad engineer, hence the name. Sam also tunes and drives
Nitro Revival supporter Mike
Mantel got to give original driver "Wild Bill" Schrewsberry
the shotgun seat in the Hemi Under Glass.
Upon his exit, Garlits was overheard
saying, " When I die, if I go to heaven and its not
as good as this, I dont want to stay!
At the end of it all a bunch
of media folk had a meeting of the lenses on the wall. LtoR:
Bob Barry, Don Ewald, Whit Bazemore, John Drummond, Cole Coonce,
Les Mayhew, Keith Burgan, Howard Koby, Jim McCraw, front row
Dan Kaplan, Ken Sanders and Mendy Fry.
In the bottom shot Bob Brown
swapped places with McCraw.
Following the dragster push starts
the day was officially opened with an A Capella rendition of
our National Anthem accompanied by color guards.
Act One Over, Back to the Paddock