LIONS Last Drag Race Reunion Dec. 3, 2011

LIONS Last Drag Race Reunion Dec. 3, 2011

LIONS Last Drag Race Reunion
at the Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA 
Motorsports Museum in Pomona, CA
Dec. 3, 2011
Story and Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz


This is why we were all here that evening

Roger Rohrdanza


It all began in the early-1950’s with a Los Angeles Police officer named Gordon Browing.  Browning had formed the Police Advisory Council of Car Clubs, with officers from 25 Police Departments in the area. 

He met Wally Parks, who was the editor of Hot Rod Magazine (HRM).  Gordon found some land at 223rd and Alameda Streets and got the Harbor Department to put in a dragstrip for the kids to race on.  He then got the Lions Clubs in the Long Beach Harbor area to sponsor the track, which became known as the famous Lions Dragstrip in the mid-1950’s.  A young, up and coming, racer name Mickey Thompson was made the Track Manager.  For more than 15 years Lions enjoyed an unrivaled reputation.  In 1972 the fun ended when the Los Angeles Harbor Commission needed the land for the development of what became the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility.

39 years later, on December 3, 2011 at the Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, CA. Tom “Mongoose” McEwen hosted the “LIONS Last Drag Race Reunion”.  After the introduction by Museum Curator Greg Sharp, Hot Rod Deluxe Editor Dave Wallace did a masterful job of moderating the discussions with panelists, Judy Thompson, Bill Bagshaw, “TV” Tommy Ivo, Tom McEwen, and Larry Sutton.  An estimated 300 racers & fans filled the Museum meeting area until there was standing room only.  Some of the many notable people on-hand were, Tom “Mongoose” McEwen, Don “Snake” Prudhomme, “TV” Tommy Ivo, Harry Hibler, Don Long, Alan Earman, Pete Eastwood, Mike Kuhl, Tommy Thompson, Frank Baney, Jim Rossi, “Fast” Jack Beckman, Roland Leong, Don Rackmann, Ed Iskenderian, Steve Gibbs, “Mousie” Marcellus, John Peters, Bob Muravez, Steve Chrisman and Art Chrisman.  Four nostalgia Top Fuel dragsters were on-hand for people to check out.

This event was well done and I hope to see it here again next year.

Thanks for the Show!


“Fast” Jack Beckman (drag racing nostalgia buff).Judy Thompson (Mickey’s ex-wife), Bill Bagshaw (“last race” pro stock winner)“TV” Tommy Ivo, Tom McEwen (“last race” Funny Car winner), and Larry Sutton (StaEventually, the panelists were answering questions from the audience.After several decades it was found and all the racers were asked to sign it.