Pedregon Brothers Recreate 'Coupe' Memories 'Flaming' Frank Pedregon Was a Legendary Driver; Inspirational Father CHINO HILLS, Calif. (Nov. 9, 2004) -- Brothers Tony and Cruz Pedregon are trying to bring their father's legacy back to life, ...
Pedregon Brothers Recreate 'Coupe' Memories
'Flaming' Frank Pedregon Was a Legendary Driver; Inspirational Father
CHINO HILLS, Calif. (Nov. 9, 2004) -- Brothers Tony and Cruz Pedregon are trying to bring their father's legacy back to life, by recreating the famous 'Fiat Coupe' front-engine dragster that made 'Flaming' Frank Pedregon the talk of hot rodders throughout the 1960s.
Despite 'Flaming' Frank's untimely death while in his early 40's, the Pedregon brothers still have fond memories of those days. But memories are just that -- memories. The duo wanted something a little more tangible to remember their father. So, they began an adventure to recreate that remarkable race car. With the help of Pat Foster, owner and chief builder of Foster Slingshots, and legendary engine builder, crew chief and driver Dale Armstrong, that memory will become a reality as the car will make its on-track debut during the 2005 NHRA Winternationals at Pomona Raceway next February.
"My dad's car was very unique," Cruz continued. "With all of these older cars being reconstructed and some being restored, we got the bug to recreate the car. We searched around for the original and didn't have any initial luck. So we decided, after many years of wanting to do it, to recreate it.
"It was truly unique in the way it looked and the way the tires burned going down the track -- it was the one and only cars that went down the track like that," Cruz continued. "It really became a fan favorite as he raced a lot of the local tracks around Southern California."
His brother Tony expressed a similar sentiment; "To continue what my father started in memory and tribute to my dad is very important. Dale Armstrong will be building the engine, which is so important because they were good friends and raced together years ago. To have Pat Foster actually build the car -- and the two of them working together with us -- is really amazing. I think it's amazing to pool this talent together on a project like this. I think that is why this project is even going to be that much more special."
At the beginning of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season, Tony left John Force Racing after winning his first championship to form his own race team. The opportunity to join brother Cruz was too much to pass up when Quaker State came calling as the title sponsor. The move has brought the two even closer together, which cemented the idea to build the car.
"My dad was very motivated," Tony said. "He was resourceful, intelligent and he made a lot of what little he had. I think that really said a lot about him. Drag racing, even 30 years ago, was still racing.
"I was born in 1965 and that car ran to the end of 1968," Tony added. "My memory goes back to when my dad drove for Don Madden in the Howard Cam Special Top Fuel Dragster. I don't remember much of the Coupe except, when it was retired. It sat in the back of our house in Chino (Calif.) and chickens lived in it. That's why we called it the 'Chicken Coupe.'"
Both Tony and Cruz wanted to make the car really reflect their father, both in mind and in heart. He was considered one of the most innovative racers of his time.
"We know, through watching our dad throughout his racing career, what kind of craftsman he was," Cruz said. "We knew how detail-oriented he was. We're going to do that to this car. We're going to make it nicer, shinier than it was. This car will really reflect what 'Flaming' Frank Pedregon was all about."