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Dragfest 2018 came back to life after a hiatus of 8 years. The previous two Dragfest events were held in the Spring of 2009 and 2010. Those were fun events- a little different than the usual races we see at Famoso. It is good to see Dragfest's return to the calendar- hopefully we'll have an encore next year.

It was promoted as "A Circus where a Drag Race broke out". Well, no circus characters appeared, but there was certainly some entertaining racing to be seen, heard and smelled. Famoso's pits had everything from Top Fuel, Nitro Funny cars, Fuel Altereds, Exhibition class, a Nitro Harley and some good ol' genuine iron from bygone days. Added to this were many of the Famoso regulars in the Gas and Nostalgia Eliminator classes. If that wasn't enough, a smattering of HAMB style cars ran down the 1320 as well.

Friday was load-in day so there was plenty of time to hob-nob with old friends in the pits as well as make some new ones. Plenty of photo opportunities were to be had of the crews preparing the cars including a few new ones, which is always fascinating to see. Pictures are presented in the order taken... on with the show.

 

 

The Zoo Keepers, Stormy Byrd and Randy Winkle.

 

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What better way to open than with Geno and Harley.

 

This set the tone for the weekend.

 

Attention in the pits ....

 

Famoso PR Director Kleet Norris was running around tagging unsuspecting race cars.

 

 

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Much of what would take place on Saturday was a relaxed schedule... maybe it wasn't a schedule after all. Cars could pretty much come into the lanes at will and get in the que to make a single pass or grudge-race against friends. We saw Fuel Altereds go head to head with Funny Cars, and for many participants the weekend presented itself as an open Test and Tune session. Air temperature was in the low to mid 80's, warm but not oppressively hot. Track temps were in the 110 degree range with 2-3 mph breezes when I checked them at noon on Saturday.

 

Rocky Phillips and son Lee showed up with the unique "Evil Twin" dragster.

 

Chris Bennett and Leon Fitzgerald (right) himself was out with his Pure Heaven AA/FA.

 

The High Speed Motorsports team was out doing some testing. They made several half track hits that yielded some very good data. They are on another full season tour to capture the 2018 Top Fuel Championship. Next stop, Bowling Green, KY.

 

Frank Hedge Jr. on cylinder heads.

 

Mendy Fry

 

Mendy with Nitro Intern Alanna Kuhn.

 

Al Renteria Jr.

 

Greg Justice was on hand testing his nitro Harley.

 

Greg Justice

 

 

Pat Ganahl's Ike Iacono GMC 6 cyl. car from the 60's.

 

 

 

Vincent Mayeda in his new "Time Machine" AA/FA

 

 

D/Gas Chevy head on.

 

When was the last time you saw a Karmann Ghia yanking its front wheels?

 

Steve Moths with the Bad News '64 Dodge A/FX car.

 

Sam Strube

 

 

The traditional High Speed team yell before their first run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Bennett Leon Fitzgerald's "Pure Heaven" AA/FA.

 

 

Eily Stafford got the seat in Stormy Byrd's Revelation IV roadster.

 

Mike Halstead was out testing in the Mike's Transmission N/RED.

 

Billy McDevitt in Mark Borjon's GMC N/RED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brendan Murry was out with his Running Wild Racing fueler still trying to sort out the 426.

 

James Day was on hand to get some seat time in the Black Sunshine AA/FA.

 

Dean Oberg in the Holy Toledo Jeep.

 

 

HAMB hot rod

 

Rocky Phillips "Evil Twin"

 

Another Top Fuel car out testing was Bret Williamson in Mike Fuller's "Forever Young".

 

 

 

Pick Your Parts Jet Truck

 

 

Something you won't see at the March Meet. LOL

 

92% of the good stuff.

 

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One of the most notable features of the event for me was a pair of REAL NITRO A/FX cars that towed out from the Midwest. Both were built and raced back then by Jim Henry from Wichita, Kansas and have been restored as close as possible to how they ran back in the day. Jim and his son Brent run "Big Iron", a 1965 Plymouth with a '64 front end. Brent handles the driving and helps maintain it. The second car is a '64 Dodge owned and driven by Steve Moths of North Carolina along with Kay, his able crew. They towed all that way in a caravan with the Henrys, just to run match races with them at Dragfest.

Big Iron's horsepower comes from a stroked 426 that nets out at 489 c.i. That power is delivered to the slicks through a 2 speed automatic. The Isky cam has been reground to 1965 specs. The car has an updated moly roll cage with a surplus aluminum aircraft seat.

 

Brent Henry and Dad, Jim

 


 

 

 

Steve Moths ran his "Bad News" '64 Dodge nitro-fueled A/FX in match races with Brent Henry in "Big Iron". Like the Henrys, he strives for the true nitro A/FX presentation just like it was really done back in the day. To illustrate this, while visiting their combined pits, I asked him why he was running a band of black electrical tape around each flared bell where it meets the cylindrical tube of the stacks. He said, "Well, I lost two of the bells on the first run today. I could see them vibrating as the car's speed increased, and two of them left the car. One bumped the top of the windshield as it flew over the car."

Both bells were recovered and taped back on, good as new. Why the tape, I asked? He said that's how it was done back in the day rather than welding them on, so I'm just redoing the tape connection to make sure there is an equal amount of tape bridging across the joint between the bell and the tube so they stay put.

 

 

 

 

 

The Henry's typically run (get this!) as much as 97% NITRO on 11:1 compression, just as it was back in the day. Eyes will testify as to the strength of that load when they warmed the car in their pit and the sting lasted several minutes after engine shutoff!

 

 

Jim gave many details of the cars restoration, including the making of the injector stacks. A farmer friend near Wichita is an excellent fabricator. He cut a piece of wood from his property, turned it on a lathe to produce a flared bell-shaped buck which was then used as a mandrel to form the aluminum bell ends. These bells were then welded to lengths of thinwall aluminum tubing to complete the job and sit atop the Hilborn injectors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This also marked the auspicious debut of Troy Glenn's "Over the Hill Gang" AA/FA. With the help of Crew Chief the legendary Bill Schultz and Gerry Glenn (no relation) driver, Mike Halstead and few of his friends.

 

 

 

 

Troy attached the starter and in the blink of an eye his left leg was under the front tire. When the mag switch was flipped the car lurched trapping Glenn. He was quickly freed and medical help was on the spot. The end result was a couple of broken bones in an incident that could have been much worse.

 

Troy is home healing up chomping at the bit to get back racing.

 

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Sayonara A/FX

 

Aptly named "Hillbilly"

 

 

Rick Rogers in the Fighting Irish N/FC testing half track.

 

 

The High Speed car was doing hot laps.

 

 

 

 

 

Rob Moore "Frankimpala" ProMod.

 

Blake Reynolds in the "Taboo" AA/FA

 

Bret Williamson in another hit in Forever Young.

 

 

 

 

 

Ron Anzalone

 

Kurt Anderson in his old school "Chizzler’s Chizel" BSBC dragster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only constant in life is change. After decades of faithful service the wooden seats of the Famoso grandstands are history. That is either good or bad news. It's good because they are being replaced by aluminum seats that are much stronger. The bad news may be, sun = ouch. wear long pants. Congrats to the Bowser's for their endless effort to make Famoso a world class drag strip.

 

 

Vincent Mayeda experienced problems on his third shake down run, no harm, no foul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austin Frye A/G

 

 

 

Out again was Mendy Fry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The fun continued on Sunday, with some cloud cover but warm temps remained

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thunder Struck 7.0 Pro car of George Johns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Walla was on hand to rock the place with his Da Kingz - the racers band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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