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.
What better way to open
than with Geno and Harley.
This set the tone for
Attention in the pits
Famoso PR Director Kleet
Norris was running around tagging unsuspecting race cars.
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
Frank Hedge Jr. on cylinder
Mendy with Nitro
Intern Alanna Kuhn.
Al Renteria Jr.
Greg Justice was on hand
testing his nitro Harley.
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.
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
James Day was on hand
to get some seat time in the Black Sunshine AA/FA.
Dean Oberg in the Holy
HAMB hot rod
Rocky Phillips "Evil
Another Top Fuel car
out testing was Bret Williamson in Mike Fuller's "Forever
Pick Your Parts Jet Truck
Something you won't see
at the March Meet. LOL
92% of the good stuff.
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,
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.
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.
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"
Blake Reynolds in the
Bret Williamson in another
hit in Forever Young.
Kurt Anderson in his
old school "Chizzlers 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.
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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