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Car Show: East London Timing Association (ELTA)

East London Timing Association (ELTA)

St Thomas Raceway Park, Ontario, Cananda
Friday, August 10, 2018
Photos by: Jim Madigan


In 2009 Mark Rogerson and Mike Roi decided there should be a car club in their area so the ELTA was born. The East London Timing Association (ELTA) also known as the "Disciples of Speed" have been around ever since, originating out of London Ontario where they have hosted their famous street party for the last 13 years outside of their clubhouse, which is a former 1930's bottling factory. The ELTA shop has become an unofficial shrine to Canadian hot rod and drag racing history, in addition to a wide variety of ELTA cars the shop is filled with an amazing display of Canadian drag racing memorabilia attracting gearheads from all over the world. In addition to building cars they have had three major projects, the Summer Bash an open house where everyone is welcome, that has grown each year and now completely fills the surrounding streets. The second has been their Big Go Drags, held at St Thomas Raceway Park, third is a Fall mixer held in the Moorse Blacksmith Shop that has been in business since 1886. This year (2018) it was decided to combine these first two events into one massive undertaking. So for three days in August (10-12) the dragstrip played home to both the street party and the Big Go Drags.

St Thomas Raceway Park is the perfect location for a nostalgia event. The strip built by Bob and Helen Harvey on their farm property in 1962 is considered the first purpose-built drag strip in Canada. Originally named St Thomas Dragway the first race was held May 27, 1962. The Harveys were great operators, treating both their racers and fans well. Unlike the strips of today, their pits had grass and some trees. Food booths were staffed by locals and their offerings were better than the norm. Some of the eras most famous racers ran down their quarter mile. Hospitality included some interesting events, the Harveys lived about a mile back towards town in a nice home with a big porch. If you were from a long distance away, the racers often congregated on their porch for an adult beverage before they began the long trip home. Locals did too. At times parking became a problem, to solve it one day Phil Bonner from Georgia simply left his rig at the track and drove his A/FX Falcon down. As you can see St Thomas is the right location to celebrate where we all came from.

This past Aug 10 to 12 the 14th ELTA Summer Bash and Big GO Drags rolled into historical St. Thomas Dragway. The East London Timing Association, brought their famous street party to the track this year plus their second Big GO Drags format, which was run what you brung, let’s have FUN and "NO GOOFS". With a year of planning and promotion, the trailers started showing up at the track on Tuesday and continued right thru to Sunday, bringing every type of vintage drag machine one could imagine. The variety of license plates on the trailers and cars coming thru the gates was ever changing.... Michigan, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, British Columbia, Quebec and all over Ontario. It was great to see so many different hot rods, muscle cars, customs, trucks, stock rides stuffed around this historical track all weekend. The cool part about the Big Go Drags is, streetcars can be part of the 1/8 mile drag action all weekend as long as they pass the ONDR inspection.

As one walked the pit area, one couldn't help but see some very notable drag machines...Rankin Ford "Wild Child", the "Comanche" top fuel dragster, Don Moyers "Rebel Reaper" 1941 Willy’s wheel standing gasser, the Rini brothers with the "The Canadian" top fuel dragster, Michigan's own Dave Gray in the high flying "Gold Chainer" 32 Ford, Dave Adam with the “Iron Mistress” 1951 Chevy Gasser out of Cleveland Ohio” Terry Denomme's "Ford Country" 1958 Ford sedan delivery gasser, the old Gene Snow funny car Vega from Franklin Ohio just to name a few.

This was also an outstanding weekend for anyone into Canadian drag racing history. It wasn't hard to see those special ELTA yellow Pioneer of Drag Racing tags that were worn by all the past original racers all weekend. Such pioneers and Hall of Famers as "Ontario" George Gray, Ev Rowse, Scott Wilson, FJ Smith, Wayne Huber, Bob "The Shoe" Tindale, Norm Noddle, Bill Kydd, Charlie Haviland, "Wild Man" Bob Walker, Andy Marsh just to name a few. Hall of Famer Rob Potter was in the tower announcing and doing the play by play all weekend. There was a great turn out of car clubs... Hamilton Road Runners, Brantford Piston Pushers, Windsor Shakers, Ancaster Rod Masters, Galt Strokers, Dog Patch Devils from Picton and the Cambridge Tyrods just to name a few.

The showmanship was second to none, with such great drag racers like "Mr. Excitement" Kevin Trimble in his wild 1941 Willys taking on "The Falcon" Steve Stephenson in his 1939 stunt plane for family bragging rights when they raced each other Saturday afternoon. Don Becker Jr. wowing the Saturday night crowd with his flame burnouts. ELTA's own John Chandler and his nitro rail pals lit the evening sky up with an outstanding nitro dragster cacklefest which was followed by one of Ontario's best surf bands, "The Thing From Outer Space". And not to be outdone.....dragster builder Dave Paddle had hot rod movies running in the pit area till the wee hours.

From Friday to Sunday there was an awesome turn out of Gassers running hard, fast and wheels up. Most of the comments from people that came out was the fact that they hadn't been to an event that contained such a variety of cars on and around the track...from open-wheel altered to flashy door slammers and pro mod's to even a Ford Model T making there was something for all to cheer on. There were great memories made around the track that weekend and around the campfires. The ELTA would like to also pass on our sincere thanks to ONDR and Ontario Gassers for coming out to help and support "Canada's favourite HIGH octane party" and everyone else that made our 14th ELTA Summer Bash and Big Go Drags so much fun mark August 9th thru 12th on your calendar for 2019 to come to the best nostalgia party and race around… see you there!

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