National Hot Rod Reunion Funny Cars spotlight

Nostalgia Funny Cars are No Joke at Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion Legendary Cars and Drivers Gather at National Trail Raceway June 15-17 COLUMBUS, Ohio -- (May 14, 2007) -- You could call them the "Elite Eight," you could call them the ...

Nostalgia Funny Cars are No Joke at Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion
Legendary Cars and Drivers Gather at National Trail Raceway June 15-17

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- (May 14, 2007) -- You could call them the "Elite Eight," you could call them the "Living Legends," but whatever you call them, you'll not be calling them late to the starting line as eight of the best-known, premier Nostalgia Funny Cars run during the fifth annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by SoffSeal, June 15-17 at National Trail Raceway, Hebron, Ohio.

Darr Hawthorne, west coast editor of Drag Racing Online, said, "The nostalgia funny car movement has been embraced from coast to coast. Nothing shows that more than that we've got eight or ten cars for this event and half are from the east coast, half from the west coast. This should be quite a race."

"Funny Cars got their name in the mid-'60s because they had the rear wheels moved forward on the chassis to improve traction," said Tony Thacker, executive director of the nonprofit Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, which produces and benefits from the Reunion. "Thus, they didn't 'quite' look like stock vehicles. Nostalgia Funny Cars feature body styles and engine combinations popular on the late 60's and early '70's, but adhere to current NHRA safety standards."

"Back in Black," a 1969 Pontiac GTO driven by Dennis LaCharite of Torrance, Calif., and the '73 Mini Charger version of the "Chi-Town Hustler," driven by Troy Martin of Piercetown, Ind., lead the list, if only in alphabetical order. Also competing are "The Oblivion Express", a '69 Camaro driven by Bob Godfrey of Moreno Valley, Calif., "Mill Road Boys," a '70 Camaro driven by Steve Nichols of Newark, Del., "Nitro Pony," a Mustang driven by Kyle Wurtzel of Pierceton, Ind., the "Rear Gears" Maverick campaigned by Danny Miller and "Speed Sport," a '69 'Cuda driven by Mike Savage of Tucson, Ariz. Just in case that wasn't enough sound and fury on the National Trail Raceway dragstrip, three historic Funny Cars will participate in Saturday night's "Cacklefest," one of the highlights of the Reunion.

^Õ Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen's restored English Leather Corvette, winner of the 1978 U.S. Nationals is now owned by the restorer, Don Trasin of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. The driver will be Pat Foster. McEwen's dramatic 1978 victory over Don Prudhomme was recognized as the most memorable moment in the 50 year history of the U.S. Nationals.

^Õ Roland Leong's "Hawaiian" Dodge Charger, which will be driven, as it was originally, by Larry Reyes, is now owned and was restored by Ted Guth of Minneapolis, Minn. The car made its debut at last fall's NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield.

^Õ The late "Jungle Jim" Liberman will be represented by his "Jungle Jim" 1972 Mini-Camaro, now owned and driven by Henry Gutierrez of San Antonio, Tex.

^Õ The two-time NHRA Funny Car Championship winning "Chi-Town Hustler", driven by Frank Hawley will be shown as part of the Reunion Spotlight display. Both Chi-Town Hustlers were originally raced by the team of Farkonas, Coil (that's Austin Coil, current crew chief for 14-time Auto Racing All American John Force) and Minick. The car was donated to the Parks Museum by Thomas Tuso and restored to the 1982 color scheme. Hawley will be recognized as recipient of the Justice Brothers Reunion Spotlight Award.

^Õ The "Oblivion Express," featured on the American Dragster TV show, was driven by NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel racer Ron Capps at the 2007 March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield. He qualified the car #1 for that event and at the Tucson Dragway Reunion. The car carries a Brad Anderson Hemi displacing 470 cu. in. and has a best elapsed time (e.t.) of 5.986 sec. and a top speed of 236.09 mph.

^Õ Dennis LaCharite (pronounced La Sharr-tee) uses a Murf McKinney chassis and Keith Black Hemi Chrysler on "Back in Black" to record a best e.t. of 5.997 and a top speed of 245 mph. LaCharite, who operates a construction company in Torrance, Calif., was the second driver to enter the Autometer five-second Funny Car club and the 2004 California Independent Funny Car Association (CIFCA) Champion.

^Õ Troy Martin's '73 Chi-Town Hustler sits atop Romeo Palamides' original chassis and carries a '73 Dodge Mini-charger body and a 426 cu. in. TFX Hemi built by Martin Motors. The car's best e.t. was 6.0 sec. and best speed was 221 mph. It won the '74 Fuel Coupe World Championship (predecessor of the Fuel Funny Car class) and was runner-up in '75.

^Õ The Mill Road Boys car, identifiable by its bright yellow '70 Camaro body bearing the name of owner-driver, Steve Nichols, carries an unusual 427 cu. in. Chevrolet engine on the Rob Sterling chassis. Its best e.t. is 6.182 and best speed 222.66 mph, making it both the quickest and fastest Chevy-powered nitro funny car ever built.

^Õ In addition to working with Troy Martin on the Chi-Town Hustler, Kyle Wurtzel is the owner/driver of the "Nitro Pony," a '66 Mustang built by Donnie Reeves on a Foster and Humes chassis. Equipped with a TFX 96 Hemi displacing 400 cu. in., the bright-red Mustang has a best e.t. of 6.70 and a top speed of 212 mph.

^Õ Danny Miller's unusual "Rear-Gears" Maverick is a reminder that not all Funny Cars were built to resemble pony cars. The original Fiberglas Trends '72 Maverick body was in very poor shape when Donnie Reeves began his restoration. The Steve Plueger S&R Race Cars chassis has been updated by Spirit Chassis and Andy McCoy Race Cars and the Ranken Technical College's Auto Collision Repair department painted the car bright yellow over blue. The original paint design was by Don Kirby and famed drag racing artist Kenny Youngblood, but the paint went flying during a May '72 supercharger explosion. The Maverick's engine is a 454 cu. in. Brad Anderson Engineering Hemi. Because the car is newly created, it has no current time or speed.

^Õ Jim Broome's "Speed Sport," driven by Mike Savage, is a bright orange '69½ 'Cuda body on a Delarm chassis. Equipped with a 470 cu. in. TFX2000 Chrysler Hemi engine, it sports a best e.t. of 6.02 sec. and best speed of 233 mph. The Pima Federal Credit Union is the car's major sponsor.

The 5th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by SoffSeal, is part of the museum's Hot Rod Heritage Series which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.

Unique among motorsports events, the Reunion honors some of the top names in hot rodding from the past and features a fabulous array of cool drag cars, street rods, classics, customs and muscle cars of the historic and present-day hot rod eras.

Credentials are now available for the Reunion by calling 800/884-6472 or through an application on the Museum's Web site at museum.nhra.com. A 3-day credential is $55. Those purchasing their credentials before May 25 receive significant added value, including Saturday's Heacock Classic Insurance Pit Pass Barbecue, a "goodie" bag, a limited edition, collectible Reunion program, a dash plaque and a souvenir credential. A 3-day junior credential is also available for $10 and includes the barbecue. Daily general admission tickets/pit passes will be available at the National Trail Raceway gate, 2650 National Rd. SW, Hebron, Ohio 43025; phone: 740/928-5706; www.nationaltrailraceway.com. Cost per person: Friday, $20; Saturday, $20; Sunday, $15. Children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.

The Reunion features a wide variety of activities and events, including:

* A ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a cruise from the Columbus Airport Marriott to Jeg's High Performance in Delaware, Ohio, Thursday, June 14, starting 4 p.m.

* Hot Heads Eliminator NHRA vintage drag racing, featuring some the sport's most famous and historic cars and drivers, racing in such classes at Top Fuel, Supercharged Gassers, classic Funny Cars and Super Stocks.

* SoffSeal Street rod "show and shine" with thousands of gleaming pre-1972 hot rods, street rods, custom cars, classics and muscle cars. "Memory Lane" will have a display of nostalgic race cars.

* National Hot Rod Reunion Reception, held at the Columbus Airport Marriott, Fri., June 15 from 7 p.m.- 10 p.m. Open to everyone at no charge, it's a tribute to the Reunion's Grand Marshal and Honorees and a chance for fans to meet some of drag racing's heroes. Grand Marshal for the event will be Jeg Coughlin. This year's honorees are John Abbott, Don Cain, Ted Harbit, Fred Hurst, and the team of Gary Rupp and Pat Dakin. The Justice Bros. Reunion Spotlight highlights Frank Hawley.

* Heacock Classic Insurance Pit Pass Barbeque on Saturday afternoon, June 16.

* Cacklefest on Saturday evening, where nitro-burning historic, front- engine top-fuel dragsters and other classic race cars are push started just like in the "old days."

* The Swap meet and Reunion Midway are filled with manufacturer exhibits and demonstrations Information, including a full activities schedule, entry forms and tickets, is available through the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at museum.nhra.com. Requests may be emailed to themuseum@nhra.com.

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.

-credit: museum.nhra.com.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , John Force , Don Prudhomme , Troy Martin , Austin Coil , Frank Hawley , Pat Dakin