Richard Parks

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Wally Parks NHRA Museum Twilight Cruise
Pomona, CA
Story by Richard Parks and Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz

   The last Twilight Cruise of the year at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum was held on December 6, 2006. The museum, with generous sponsorship from the Automobile Club of Southern California, hosts this cruise from April through December, on the first Wednesday of the month. The December gathering attracted nearly 400 hot rods, vintage, classic, muscle cars, trucks and motorcycles. Only pre-1970 vehicles are allowed, although one man brought a nifty ’55 Caddy pulling a ’58 Homemade race boat. The Cal-Rod Car Club of the San Gabriel Valley assist the museum in putting on this event and hold a huge 50-50 drawing, with half the pot going to the museum and the other half to the lucky winner. The club prevailed upon one of its members, a striking blond who is an actress on the E Channel, to be Mrs Santa Claus, and she was very successful in selling tickets for the 50-50 drawing. Vendors are on hand to show off their artwork, crafts, engines and other hot rod objects of interest. Four pre-selected and esteemed hot rodders are chosen to look over the cars. Each judge selects a car that inspires him the most. These four cars are then given a certificate allowing them to be a part of the 2007 Parade of Cars at the last race of the year at the Auto Club Pomona Raceway, in November. Before 45,000 cheering fans, some 36 cars representing the best in hot rodding motor slowly down the track.

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The amazing variety of street rods that fill the parking lot


The Auto Club of Southern California brought out their vintage 1942 Ford tow truck to hold all the toys brought by the generous throng.


"The last Twilight cruise of the year also has a toy drive, and John Roberts brought out his vintage 1942 tow truck to hold all the toys brought by the generous throng.". Dave McClelland was the Master of Ceremony and he regaled the crowd with those that he saw in the audience. Steve and Gloria Gibbs came from Utah to attend. Gibbs is affectionately called “The Hook” for pulling cars off the starting line when they failed to fire. He was also the first director of the museum and guided it through its growing pains. Sam Jackson, the museum’s second director was also in attendance, and stopped by to say hello to the staff he once directed. 

Tony Thacker is the new director for the museum and has plans to expand the special exhibits, which change periodically. Bob Muravez was on hand to enjoy the festivities. Bob raced under the pseudonym of Floyd J. Lippincott Junior, so that his parents wouldn’t find out and curtail his racing career. Captain Ed Ballinger told us that Craig Breedlove has sold his “Spirit of America” landspeed racing car and equipment to Steve Fossett. Fossett is going to attempt a new landspeed record late in 2007 in Northern Nevada, in an attempt to break the record set by Andy Green, in 1997, at Black Rock Desert, Nevada, at over 763 miles per hour.

   Dave Wood was busy putting flyers on all the show cars informing them of future car shows and races in the area. Dick Wells, representing NHRA and the Museum Board was in attendance, talking to Jack Beckman, who has raced at various levels of the sport of drag racing and is making inroads into the professional ranks. At the last race of the season, Beckman faced off against John Force in the Funny car Finals, and barely lost to the 14-time Series Champion. Beckman is a thoughtful and serious racer, with a great sense of humor. Art Chrisman never misses a chance to come to the Museum Twilight cruise. Art, with his brother, uncle and father, were in the forefront of drag racing from the very beginning of the sport. The racing season has ended, as well as most of the car shows, but by the first of the New Year, plans will be under way to start a new season. The racing and car show calendar is packed with events on a year round basis. Check out the schedules in DRIVE Magazine for car shows and events in your area.


This unusual “Deuce” Roadster belongs to Robert Williams of Chatsworth, a small block Chevy is shifted with a 4 speed


Sal Corona of Rancho Cucamonga owns this chopped 4”, ’40 Willys pickup with Small block Chevy power


The ’71 Plymouth Roadrunner has an interesting bumper and an expensive little Roadrunner in the grille. This one is owned by Alan Cadieux of Pomona


Bob Slovick of Garden Grove is showing us a nice set of pipes on his blown 427 Chevy powered ’34 Ford.


This Barry White built, tilt front, straight axeled, blown Chevy powered, ’57 Chevy was auctioned off that night for $81,000!!


Paul Rieker’s ’33 Willys is all steel, straight axeled, and 392 Hemi powered.


This drag strip style ’42 Willys pickup sports a chopped top, and a 6-71 blown Chevy small block. The owner is Ted Raaoumis of Santa Fe Springs


Red “Steelies” on a black ’53 Chevy, clean. Tom Shorett of San Bernadino powered his with a ZZ4 Chevy.


Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum Director Tony Thacker, in front of his office


Sure “Santa” I’ll buy more raffle tickets. Ever wonder why the 50/50 is so big? Carmine & Tina “Santa” Artiglio.


’67 Chevy Nova blown small block Chevy powered, owned by Jeff Gorjans of San Dimas.


Art Chrisman (l) listening to Steve Gibbs rendition of “O Holy Night”.


Ex-editor of Nat’l Dragster, Dick Wells (l) with Funny Car pilot, “Fast” Jack Beckman





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