GAS RONDA, SCHULTZ AMONG 2022 NITRO REVIVAL HONOREES


Allen, Adams, London, Conroy and the ‘Sour Sisters’ Also on Irwindale Honor Roll
IRWINDALE, Calif. – Gas Ronda, Doc Conroy, Jim London, Stan Adams, Charlie Allen, Bill Schultz and the trio known as “The Sour Sisters,” Don Ratican, Don Gaide and Kenny Safford, will step prominently into the spotlight Nov. 5-6 when Nitro Revival celebrates the 2022 recipients of its Greater San Gabriel Valley Racers Recognition Awards at Irwindale Dragstrip.

With a combination of color, cackle and conversation, Nitro Revival has become a destination event not just for those who were part of drag racing’s Golden Age but for those who always wished they had been. It provides a step back in time to an era in which the sport first was finding its footing while defying all the traditional concepts of speed and performance.

Every one of this year’s honorees contributed significantly to the sport’s development, some as drivers and crew chiefs, others as managers and officials.

 

 

Gas Ronda was one of Funny Car racing’s early breakout stars in his long-nosed ’66 Mustang sponsored by Russ Davis Ford. The Holman Moody-built, poppy red Ford carried the Azusa resident to the Unlimited Funny Car championship at the 1966 March Meet and to the AHRA World Championship in the Super Stock Fuel class.

 


Doc Conroy and his late brother Russ first made a name for themselves with a 426 Dodge-powered Austin Healey pickup that raced regularly at Irwindale. Doc later excelled in NHRA class racing and, after a brief fling with SCCA sports cars, wrenched his brother to a Top Alcohol Dragster win at the NHRA Heartland Nationals at Topeka, Kan., in 1996 after winning the Division 7 championship a year earlier.

 

Charlie “the All-American Boy” Allen, grew up in SoCal but distinguished himself as a Funny Car driver in 1971 while stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington state. Driving a Dodge Charger, he raised the official NHRA Funny Car speed record to 222.22 miles per hour at Mission, B.C., before lowering the ET record to 6.82 at Fremont. He later owned OCIR and built and operated Firebird Raceway outside Phoenix for 30 years.

 

 

Jim London grew up in Baldwin Park, the birthplace of the In-N-Out Burger chain, and was a race official at the second San Gabriel Drag Strip in the early 1960s, working in the timing tower and on the starting line. Assisting chief starter Richard Southern, he was among the last to flag start a drag race before the development of the modern “Christmas Tree” system. He also covered the sport for Drag News.
As ringleader of the “Over the Hill Gang,” Bill Schultz was crew chief to many of the sport’s biggest names including Kelly Brown, with whom he won the 1978 NHRA Top Fuel Championship, Jack Jones, with whom he won Top Gas at Indy in 1968 and 1970, Al Segrini, with whom he won Funny Car at the 1981 Winternationals, and Gerry Glenn, whom he tuned to an upset of Don Garlits in the final round of the 1971 World Finals. He also tuned for John Force, Dale Pulde, Mark Oswald, Richard Tharp, Rick Ramsey and Gary Read, to mention but a few.

 


Although he never drove competitively, Stan Adams, like London made his contributions on the administrative side, most significantly as the Facilities Superintendent at Pomona Raceway, the track to which he pedaled his bicycle as a youngster, wrangling admission by painting numbers on the cars in competition. Before becoming boss at Pomona, he handled PR for “Dandy Dick” Landy’s Dodge Performance Clinics and was GM of the former Hawaii International Raceway.

 


Despite the fact that each already had made a name for himself, it wasn’t until Kenny Safford, Don Gaide and Don Ratican collaborated on the “Sour Sisters” dragster that they rose to legendary status.
It began as so many drag racing stories did in the 1960s and 1970s with a marriage of necessity. Safford and Gaide, both members of the legendary Road Kings car club, were together campaigning a Top Fuel dragster when a blown engine left them with an uncertain future.

Enter Ratican who, after the dissolution of the Ratican-Jackson-Sterns team, had an engine, but no race car. Inserting the Oldsmobile engine from the R-J-S Fiat into the “Sour Sisters” dragster proved a stroke of genius.

With Safford at the wheel, the car ran 7.86 at 195.22 mph (top speed of the meet) as one of only two non-Chrysler dragsters to qualify for the 1964 Winternationals, thereby establishing the “Sour Sisters” entry as the world’s quickest and fastest Oldsmobile, a car that in one stretch reached the winners’ circle in 17 of 22 races.


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