Cruz and Tony Pedregon Recreate Father's Memory Remake of "Flaming Frank" Car First Appearance at Pomona POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2005) -- 'Flaming' Frank would be proud. His sons, NHRA Nitro Funny Car drivers' Cruz and Tony Pedregon, used...
Cruz and Tony Pedregon Recreate Father's Memory
Remake of "Flaming Frank" Car First Appearance at Pomona
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2005) -- 'Flaming' Frank would be proud. His sons, NHRA Nitro Funny Car drivers' Cruz and Tony Pedregon, used the same hard work and determination they were instilled with as children to help recreate his dream - the legendary front engine 'Fiat Coupe.'
Today that dream became a reality, as Pomona Raceway, site of so many memorable moments and this weekend's season-opening NHRA Winternationals, also played host to the first public viewing of this spectacular piece of drag racing history. The Coupe will also be making a ceremonial appearance before the main grandstands prior to the final round of eliminations tomorrow.
Memories, dreams and admiration drove Cruz and Tony to honor the achievements of their innovative father's front engine 1960s 'Fiat Coupe' dragster. A vision that might have come out of nowhere, as Father Frank spent most of his formative years in El Paso, Texas, during the early 1950s, where competitive drag racing had yet reached any height of popularity. Yet Frank was still able to build one of the most memorable cars of drag racing history once he moved to Southern California. With its unmistaken fiery flames, it quickly became a fan favorite across the Southern half of California.
"He built the car himself with his own hands because he couldn't afford to buy it, he built it start to finish. That is why it is even more personal and sentimental to us; it was his vision and he made it a reality, "said Cruz, driver of the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car. "My first memories of the car were my father working at the garage and going to the races and that was such a thrill for us. We'd get excited and jump up and down; that was what we knew. We thought everybody's dad raced and had a car that made all that noise."
'Flaming' Frank retired from racing at the end of 1968. At the time, Cruz was just five and Tony was four, "I don't remember much of the Coupe except when it was retired because 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," commented Tony, the 2003 NHRA POWERade World Champion and pilot of the Q Racing Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car.
More than three decades later, drag racing fans from then and now will be able to enjoy 'Flaming' Frank Pedregon's car thanks to his children's determination and a team effort. The brothers brought together Pat Foster of Foster Slingshots and renowned engine builder, crew chief and driver Dale Amstrong, "one of the best engine builders and drivers of all time," said Tony.
"We were unfortunately not able to race with our dad so there is so much meaning to this car, it is very special and a tribute car to my dad because Cruz and I enjoyed working together. Add to that my dad's good friends Dale and Pat. It was a long process and we didn't always see eye to eye. But we had different creative ideas and can now step back and look at the end result, which is something we all can be very proud of," explained Tony.
It's a very special moment for the Pedregon family.
"I am as excited as I can be about bringing the car out to the track and I am even more amazed that so many people feel the same way. There's a lot of history at (Pomona Raceway) and in this market. If you are from this area, you feel this is where it all started and this is the place to unveil the car," said Tony.
"We'd like for the younger generations and several other generations to appreciate this car because it is so unique," concluded Cruz.