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Gone Racin' Winternationals Cacklefest, Pomona - 02/2003

Gone Racin' Winternationals Cacklefest, Pomona - 02/2003


Gone Racin' Winternationals Cacklefest, Pomona 2003
Drag racing fans who love nostalgia were in Nirvana over the weekend at the NHRA K&N Filter's 43rd Annual Winternationals Drag Races at Pomona Raceway, in Pomona, California, February 6-9, 2003. On hand were some of the famous cars, some original and others that were restored, that took us back to our youths, and to the early years of drag racing. Many of these cars came from the renowned collection of the NHRA Motorsports Museum, located on the far end of the track, near the corners of White and McKinley Avenues. Some of the cars were towed in by their owners who exhibit and race them at events throughout the country. The meticulous care in researching the provenounces, history and in the restorations of the cars added special meaning. All throughout the meet, these cars were fired up and belched nitro smoke into the admiring crowds, and thunderous noise that brought mobs of people running to where the action was. The Motorsports Museum housed cars at their tent at the race, manned by Bob and Eileen Daniels, who were celebrating their 50th anniversary with NHRA, and who promoted the new Hot Rod Reunion East, to be held in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on June 20-22, 2003. Besides the cars that were at the Museum and in the pits, some 14 cars made an appearance on the 1/4 mile race track on Sunday, February 9, 2003, in a tour de force, driving down the track and up through the return access road to park in front of 45,000 adoring and screaming fans whose memories returned to the glory days of the sport of drag racing. Cacklefest is a term coined to define the cackling and crackling of these mighty engines as they reach full power with the addition of nitromethane. They hiss, cackle, spit fire, noise and smoke into the air as fearsome as any mythical dragon of old.
Mike Kuhl sat in the "Kuhl and Olson" Top Fueler from the 1960's.  With a Woody Gilmore chassis, a Tom Hanna body and the psychedelic paint job by George Cerny, Jr, this car was restored by Mike Kuhl, with crew chief "Fats" McCay, original shoe Carl Olson, and with the original push truck from the 1960's. Kuhl is also famous among the drag boat racing community. Bill Pitts restored "The Magicar" that was originally built by Kent Fuller for Ron Winkel and Kaye Trapp, and driven by Jeep Hampshire. Bill brought Hampshire back for this event to bring back fond memories when Jeep won titles at Fontana and Palmdale in the mid 1960's. Bob Downey drove the "Howard Cam Rattler," which he also had previously driven. Made famous by Danny Porsche, Jerry Johansen, Ed Osepian and Larry Dixon, Sr, this car won the Hot Rod Magazine Championship and the PDA meet in 1969. "Mousie" Marcellus brought the "Winged Express," driven by Mike Boyd. Made famous by "Wild Willie" Borsch, this fuel altered fought for dominance with the other cars in its class during the heyday of the fuel altered class in the late 1960's and early 70's.  Marcellus is a constant visitor and supporter of the Museum and is always willing to sign autographs. Bob Nylander brought the fuel altered "Pure Heaven," driven down the course by its original driver, Leon Fitzgerald. A terror in the late 1960's, this beautiful car often lined up against another fuel altered, "Pure Hell." Heaven was originally campaigned by Fitzgerald, Rockman and Reed.

  Don Trasin came all the way from Columbus, Ohio, to bring the Ted Thomas, Pete Lenhoff and Bill Flurer rail Top Fueler, the "Jade Grenade." Pat Foster restored this Don Long chassis that ran on the East Coast back in the early 1970's. Jim Crooke drove his original car, the "Assassin," a Don Long chassis, Hanna body, and a Cerny candy apple paint job. Who can forget John Peters' "Freight Train," driven by the legendary "Floyd Lippincott Jr," (Bob Muravez) who raced under that name to avoid detection by his parents, who had forbidden him from drag racing. Muravez is often seen at the Museum and is seriously planning a comeback to the Top Fuel professional racing circuit. George Bolthoff recreated his original Top Gas Dragster that terrorized the ranks during the 1960's. George tried to acquire an Engle cam to bring back the nostalgia that is related to that fabled company, but the new management would not cooperate and George settled on a Crane cam instead. On hand was the famed "Beebe & Mulligan" dragster that won the Winternationals in 1969 at this very track. Tim Beebe, the original crew chief on the car was brought back by the new owner and driver, Dave West. Pat Foster re-created this car to the original details as a memorial to the previous team of John "The Zookeeper" Mulligan and Tim Beebe. "Frantic Four," raced by Norm Weekly, Ron Rivero, Jim Fox and Dennis Holding was on display, as was Art Chrisman famed #25 roadster/rail job from the 1950's. Randy Walls drove his Super Nova Funny Car. Hugh Tucker drove his original AA/SR '28 Roadster bodied Chevy that won the Middle Eliminator title at the Winternationals in 1963. Rod Alexander re-created "Ernie's Camera Shudderbug" Top Fuel dragster that his father, "Wild Bill" Alexander drove in the 1960's. The body was by Lujie Lesovsky and was originally owned by the late Ernie Alvarado.  Thanks go to the staff at the NHRA Motorsports Museum, car owners and Sam Jackson for their valued input on this article.

Contact Richard Parks, Gone Racin' at [email protected] or visit the website at