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 racings
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 years
honorees contributed significantly to the sports development,
some as drivers and crew chiefs, others as managers and officials.
Gas Ronda was one of Funny Car racings 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 sports 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
Landys 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 wasnt 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
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
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
worlds quickest and fastest Oldsmobile, a car that in one
stretch reached the winners circle in 17 of 22 races.