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Combustion Chamber-2005 3rd Annual National Hot Rod Reunion


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June 17-19, Beech Bend Raceway Park, Bowling Green, KY-  “We’re going to come back next year.”-Sam Jackson, Executive Director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.  “We want you back forever and ever.”- Delane Simpson, City Commissioner.  The NHRR was not even a third of the way completed when those statements were made.  The impact and the success of the 3rd Annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion trumped the first two years in racing and street rod participants, as well as the overflow crowds who embarked on Beech Bend Raceway Park.  Over 400 racecars and nearly 3,000 street rods from all over the country packed the family-friendly facility, during what was an absolutely picture perfect weekend of weather.   My only complaint is that there were not enough hours in the weekend to see and do everything.  Visual and mental overload, for sure!  Thankfully, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museumhas already announced the dates for the 4th Annual NHRR in 2006 in case you missed anything this year.  The following photo highlights are just a portion of the excitement that happened during this event. Enjoy! Dawn & Mark

Nostalgia Gas competitor Carlos Cedeno’s King Kong Anglia is about as gorgeous as they come.  Cedeno, who resides in Lockport, NY, (a literal breeding ground of Gassers in the 60s), is able to push this BBC-powered beast to low 10-second runs. image
image The “Just Another Blast from the Past” injected flathead entry competed in the Oldies class.  Owned by Greg Spurr and driven by Tom “Tuna” Steed, the team made a great showing lasting through the semi-final round and running low 11s.
Larry McLendon’s ‘Midnight Oil Garage” ’41 Willys was just one of 52 entries competing in Nostalgia Gas.  McLendon, who made the long tow from Summerfield, FL, ran a 9.91 (against the 10.10 NG/F index) which placed him seventh in the program. image
image NHRA Funny Car driver Cory Lee made two exhibition laps, as well as participated in Cacklefest in Greg Sullivan’s restored “Pandemonium” Barracuda, formerly campaigned by Bob and Shirley Sullivan in the mid-60s.
Troy and Mike Coker competed in their first NHRR with their great looking new digger, the “Greenskeeper.” They’re still sorting out fuel system issues with their nitro combination, but they did qualify for the Nostalgia Comp field with a 7.832. image
image Clay Kossutti’s “MAX Attack” ’63 Dodge was among 44 entries in the exciting Nostalgia Super Stock class.
The popular “Vagabond”, owned by Larry Anderson, is a regular Cacklefest participant at the CHRR, and the Anderson family made the long trip out from California to join in on the Midwest version. image
image Dana Freeman Jr. owns and built this beautiful ’62 Chevy Altered.  It’s powered by a Hilborn injected 427 BBC on 30% pop, with tuning and driving provided by Ray Helger Jr.  Helger made a couple of exhibition passes during the weekend and ran a best of 10.02. Nice!
Jim Swedberg, near lane, is on his way to a first round win over Lincoln Hassell in Open Fuel.  Swedberg ran a nice 6.981 over Hassell’s 7.18.  Swedberg went on to defeat Bob Beedy in round two, and then soloed to the win in the final when opponent Dom Paris was shut off following his burnout.  Swedberg joins an elite group of racers who have won 2 of the 3 reunions held…Sean Bellemeur (T/F) and Scott Parks (Jr. Fuel). image
image Ronnie Sox waves to a cheering crowd as each of the Cacklefest participants paraded down the Beech Bend 1320.  You couldn’t wipe the smile off his face all weekend if you tried, as he and longtime racing partner Buddy Martin were bestowed the first Wally Park’s NHRA Motorsports Museum  Board of Directors Award. The award was created to recognize extraordinary contributions by individuals, teams or organizations to hot rodding, especially drag racing and land speed racing.  There’s no question the overall impact that the Sox & Martin team had on the muscle car era of the ’60s and ’70s and the legacy they leave behind.
Mendy Fry qualified in the second spot of the Top Fuel Show with a great 6.09/201.82.  Mendy defeated James Day in the opening round, before losing to Sean Bellemeur in round two. image
image Ray Godman (in wheelchair) joined the Cacklefest party for the second year in a row. This Plymouth Arrow bodied flopper is the last in a long series of “Tennessee Bo-Weevils” dating back to the 1950’s.  This car is proudly displayed in Ray Godman’s current business, in operation since 1977.
Bill Tovlin heats up the Goodyears on his ’29 Ford Coupe during Nostalgia Comp qualifying.  Tovlin qualified 30th and was eliminated in round one. image
image Charlie Smith ran a best of 7.889 during Open Fuel qualifying, but that effort wasn’t strong enough to break the 7.52 bump spot of the 8-car field.
Larry Shawberry debuted this ’68 Charger funny car in the Nostalgia Comp class with great success.  Shawberry  captured the number one qualifying spot with a 9.116, which was nearly 5-tenths below the designated class index. image
image A flurry of activity surrounds the incoming Cacklefest entries as they lined up side-by-side in front of an appreciative and capacity crowd.
Ron Doran marched through the Geezer Gasser field in his  “Ferdinand” ’41 Willys and claimed his first reunion win. image
image The most impressive run of the weekend would have to go to Allan Burns, who drove the “Slider” to the lowest elapsed time ever by a flathead powered dragster. His 7.697/172 during the first round of eliminations beat Rick Schnell’s previous record of 7.72, which was also recorded in the “Slider”.  Oh yeah, and Burns went on to collect runner-up honors in the Oldies class, too.
Another example of the long distance travelers participating at the NHRR was ’48 Fiat entry of Samuelson and Elliot from Prior Lake, MN.  Driver Steve Elliott placed the entry in the 10th spot of the Nostalgia Comp field, running a 7.50 during qualifying. image
image Top Fuel competitor Brendan Murry was among several California-based teams to make the long haul to Bowling Green.   Murry qualified in the fifth spot with a 6.40, and went on to claim runner-up honors to 2-time and repeat winner, Sean Bellemeur.
Andrew Appesate, from Lancaster, KY, cranked out a great 7.978 in his “Fugitive” ’37 Topolino altered, placing him fifth in the Nostalgia Comp program. image
image Oldies competitor Wayne Ludington brought his Ford flathead digger up from Lehigh Acres, Florida.  Ludington qualified in the seventh spot with an 11.834 and won his first round match, but was unable to return in round two.
71-year old “Joltin’ Joe” Jacono is having the time of his life driving Bob Rosetty’s “Rolling Stoned” nostalgia funny car. image
image Bob Crouse dominated the Jr. Fuel B field qualifying in the number one spot with a 7.82, while running consistent 7.80s during eliminations en route to the class win.
California native Dale Boomgaarden entertained the capacity crowd in the Mallicoat Bros.  AA/GS ‘Cuda entry.  He did run in the 6.80 zone at over 200 mph during the weekend. image
image Pat Foster, who restored this and many other showpiece cacklers, sits in the idling Mongoose ‘Vette funny car owned by Don Trasin.
Scott Parks scored his second consecutive Jr. Fuel A win by running a 7.104 over Stu Sandhaus’ 7.182 in the final.  Made for a great father’s day gift to dear ‘ol dad, Frank! image
image There’s a whole lot of motor motivating Bill Bierman’s wild ’51 Henry J.  Dialed-in on a 10.10 index, Bierman never really got a handle on the track surface and used up more of his lane than necessary, running no better than a 15.15, but the crowd LOVED the wild gymnastics!
Bruce Hacker qualified his shorty “Revolution” entry in the second spot of the Jr. Fuel B show with a 7.95.  Hacker stepped up to a 7.887 in the first round, but was beat by the hole shot-aided 7.998 time slip turned in by Chuck Rearick.  Ouch! image
image Dave Cox launches his wicked cool Hellzapoppin’ ’32 Ford during qualifying.  Cox has attended all three NHRRs and competes in the popular Nostalgia Comp class.  Cox qualified in the 25th spot of the field and last through the quarter-finals.
Hailing from Venice, FL, Paul Marrone took advantage of an exhibition session on Saturday to run his “Mad Martian” AA/AM.  Not only that, but shortly after this run he removed the deck lid and had Mousie Marcellus autograph it for him. image
image Bob Beedy, who won the inaugural event at Beech Bend, qualified the nitro-injected Beedy & Lutz entry in the second spot of the Open Fuel field with a 6.865.  Beedy defeated Matt Borvo in round one before losing to eventual winner, Jim Swedberg.
One of the stars of every Cacklefest presented by the NHRA Museum, is the “Sour Sisters” fueler of Safford-Gaide-Ratican. image
image Ever wonder what Wile E. Coyote would do with a HEMI?  Stuff it in a Willys like “Big Al” Chernik’s “Acme Racing” entry.  Chernik competes on a regular basis in the Geezer Gasser organization, and was one of 20 such cars in attendance.
Jack Harris and the “Utah Posse” made a lasting impression on legends of fans during their first appearance at the NHRR .  Harris nabbed the top qualifying spot of the Top Fuel field with a 5.913/245.94 (track & event records), before losing in round two to eventual runner-up, Brendan Murry. image
image A variety of vintage doorcars kicked off the Cacklefest festivities leading up to a stream of vintage fuelers being push-started up the track.  The SRO crowd loved the diversity, but really went crazy when the fiery dragsters made their cackling entrance.
Rick Lawrence provided some lengthy burnouts in his “Minnesota Maniac” ’70 Cuda during the event. image
image David Pace qualified Al Schramm’s “Nitro Dragon” entry in the third spot of the Top Fuel show with a 6.30.  Pace’s weekend came to an end after committing a red-light start in round one against eventual winner Sean Bellemeur.
Bill Bush, who won the Nostalgia Gas title at the inaugural NHRR in his icy-cool Rambler, was oh-so-close to becoming another 2-time champ.  Bush was running on or very near his 9.10 index during eliminations, but broke-out with a 9.07 in the final against Rob Davis. image
image Blue Ridge, VA, resident Thomas Jackson yanks the front end high in his Nostalgia Comp entry, reeling off an 8.71 against his 8.60 index.
Rocky Pirrone prepares for an exhibition match in his “Boss Hydro” ’33 Willys, only to then have the drive shaft shatter beneath him on the launch. image
image Rick Lawrence, near lane, and Lou Sgro gave fans plenty of side-by-side entertainment in their respective retro-floppers during exhibition sessions throughout the weekend.  Sgro also scored his personal best elapsed time of 6.67 at 207 mph.
This is the Hilton LOCO MOTION digger midway through Cacklefest.  Attempts to identify ownership and the history of the car have come up empty.  So if you know anything about it, please drop us a line. image
image Euclid, OH, resident Gene Schwartz competed in the Q64 class with his SBC-powered ’52 Chevy.  Schwartz, a former NHRA record holder in E/G back in the mid-60s with this same car, was able to run high 10-second runs in this beast.
Dominic Paris drove the Paris Bros. twin-engine Open Fuel entry to a runner-up effort, repeating his results from the 2003 event. image
image Steve Timoszyk has been participating in a variety of reunions throughout the Midwest and East coast with his restored ‘Prock & Howell’ flip top ‘33 Willys AA/GS coupe.  The Logghe chassis is basically original and the paint job is just beautiful.
The team that gets the “Best header flames at an idle during Cacklefest” award would have to be the New England-based King & Marshall digger currently owned by Sy Sidebotham (standing) and driven be Tom Steed.  The team joined the Cacklefest brigade for the third year in a row, and the weekend was highlighted by Sidebotham being one of the 2005 reunion honorees. image
image Mike Boyd capped off the Saturday night qualifying program with an off-and-on the throttle pass in the famed “Winged Express”  The crowd went wild!
Dominic Blasco hiked his “Wild Willy” Nostalgia Gas entry and charged to a 10.11, running nearly on his 10.10 index. image
© M & H Photography -All text, photos, graphics, artwork and other contributed material within the Combustion Chamber  are copyrighted and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without express written consent. 

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