Honorees Set for 2007 Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion
Columbus, Ohio will host 5th Annual Rodding and Racing Event on Father's Day Weekend
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- (Dec. 8, 2006) -- Honorees were announced today for the fifth annual National Hot Rod Reunion, Jun. 15-17, 2007 at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio. The honorees are John Abbott, Don Cain, Ted Harbit, Fred Hurst, and the team of Gary Rupp and Pat Dakin. Jeg Coughlin will be the Grand Marshal, while the Justice Bros. Reunion Spotlight will fall on Frank Hawley.
John Abbott began his long drag racing career near his Denver home in 1954. His accomplishments at the wheel of fuel dragsters include the 1977 Top Fuel title at the Popular Hot Rodding Magazine Championships, the IHRA Spring Nationals in 1978 and the AHRA Winter Nationals in '79. He capped his career with a victory in the NHRA U.S. Nationals, taking the Top Fuel title in 1981 following a runner-up finish in 1980.
Don Cain's biggest win came with his Top Gas victory at the 1967 U.S. Nationals. He won six NHRA Division 5 Championships in Top Gas Dragster. Cain then drove a Plymouth Satellite Funny Car for the team of Pusch and Cain match racing throughout the Midwest. He retired from drag racing in 1974 and focused his attention on street rods. After his retirement from General Motors in 1988, he and his wife Nan opened K.C. Street Rod Parts in Kansas City, Mo.
Ted Harbit raced his "Chicken Hawk" 1951 Studebaker and won his Stock class at the NHRA Nationals an incredible seven times in 11 tries. A retired teacher and basketball coach in the Frankton, Ind. school system, he has raced continuously in cars he's built himself for more than 50 years. Ted retired from class racing after the '72 U.S. Nationals and drove it occasionally until 1987 when he decided to see how fast it would go. With twin turbochargers and twin four barrel carbs, he's turned a best of 10.07 at 137.8 mph. In the Studebaker Drivers Club publication, Turning Wheels, Harbit explained why he still uses a Studebaker engine. "My own experience has been that it is not necessary to go to expensive extremes to develop over 500 HP in a Studebaker V-8. . . and that the engine is so basically sturdy that one need not fear immediate disintegration when higher horsepowers (sic) have been developed."
Fred Hurst began his career with a '57 Chevy and a pair of Pontiacs in Stock Eliminator. In 1963 he switched to A/Gas with an immaculate Pontiac powered '40 Willys. He stepped up to 426 Hemi power in '65 and set the A/G National Record. In early '68 Hurst debuted a gorgeous injected 426- powered '68 Barracuda. With it he won Street Eliminator at the '68 World Finals in Tulsa and the A/Gas class at the '69 U.S. Nationals. In 1970 he built another Barracuda which he raced for four years. In 1974 Hurst parked the Barracuda in favor of a Norm Paddock-built Opel GT which he raced until his retirement during the summer of 1977. Hurst's cars were known as much for their appearance as for their performance. All were immaculate, and all were Candy Apple Red painted and lettered by '06 NHRR Honorees Bill Rowell and Jim Farr.
Gary Rupp and Pat Dakin (Rupp & Dakin) ran one of the nicest looking dragsters of its day. Dakin was the driver and Rupp the car owner. The team began racing in 1970 in a gas car and then made the switch to a front- engine fuel dragster in 1971 They switched to a rear engine Woody Gilmore car in 1972and bought another one in '74-'75 and kept that one until '77 when they quit. Dakin said, "We came back in '89 and won an IHRA World Championship and then bought a Don Long car and stayed together through the 1993 season." Then Rupp moved to Florida, effectively ending the team. Dakin found a new partner in Tom Kattelman and continued to race, but he never went further west than Texas. The team was victorious in Canada in '71 and '73. Dakin still has the '89 car and is attempting to put it back together in time for the Reunion.
Jeg Coughlin, a Columbus resident who was named Grand Marshal of the Reunion, has a long career as a racer, as well as a globally-known supplier of speed parts. Coughlin began racing in A Gas in a '48 "Dragster by Austin" powered by a 392 cid Chrysler Hemi in 1967. He worked his way up through the ranks to Top Fuel, where he was Division III champion in 1977, 1978 and 1980. Along the way, he had 11 major wins in Top Fuel and Pro Comp. Jeg's Mail Order began in 1960 as Jeg's Automotive in downtown Columbus. It has grown into a giant with annual sales of $200 million. He is a member of the Hot Rod magazine Hall of Fame and received the Car Craft "Ollie Award" for lifetime achievement, among other honors. He now mentors his sons, who run the business and race in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Frank Hawley is perhaps best known for Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School, which for 21 years has been the required training for anyone who wants to sit behind the wheel of a dragster. But long before he created the school, Hawley was a racer himself. He was licensed to drive a dragster at the age of 16 and drove in Top Fuel, Nitro Funny Cars, Top Alcohol Dragsters and Top Alcohol Funny Cars. Hawley also holds NHRA licenses in Pro Stock, Super Comp and Super Gas. He drove for John Force's tuner, Austin Coil, in the "Chi-Town Hustler," taking two Nitro Funny Car NHRA World Championships. He holds nine NHRA National Championships in all. He is one of only thirteen drivers to win National titles in both Top Fuel and Nitro Funny Cars. He's a member of NHRA's "4-second club," he was Car Craft magazine's Driver of the Year, number 43 on the NHRA's list of the Top 50 Drivers and is a member of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame. During his career, his won/loss record was an astonishing 75 percent. Hawley has been a television commentator for ABC, TNN, ESPN and independent programming. He's the author of two books and widely known as a lecturer and instructor.
Proceeds of the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, directly benefit the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif. The museum houses the very roots of hot rodding. Scores of famous vehicles spanning American motorsports history are on display, including winning cars representing 50 years of drag racing, dry lakes and salt-flat racers, oval track challengers and exhibits describing their colorful backgrounds.
The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., PST. Current NHRA members are admitted free. Admission for non-members is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors 60 and older, $4 for juniors six through 15, and free for children under the age of five. Auto Club members receive discounts on admission and at the gift shop: show your card and save. The Museum is also available for private parties, meetings, corporate events, weddings and special group tours. The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, Calif. 91768. For further information on special exhibits, museum events or directions, call 909/622-2133 or visit museum.nhra.com.