This years NHRA
World Finals actually meant something as the two fuel classes
championship was still up for grabs. As part of NHRA's efforts
to provide the fans with entertainment other than just the track
activities a display of John Forces fleet of retired race cars
and select nostalgia dragsters were on display. Joining those
displays the class winners of the Heritage Racing Series were
invited to display their championship cars. Our nostalgia king
Steve Gibbs organized the whole area. The weather was shaky and
heavy rain was predicted so the crowds were lighter than hoped
for on Saturday but sunshine on Sunday brought out a mob of fans.
Force had over 30 cars on display and watching him stage them
on Wednesday was a riot, with a army of workers unloading and
rolling them around John was making them move cars just inches
so they would be displayed perfect. A special movie covering
the cars and John's history was produced and played on a big
screen all weekend, narrated primarily by John himself....we
now know everything we need to know about JFR! The whole display
area was busy all weekend but what really drew them in was when
we cackled our dragsters, the sound of a crisp vintage nitro
engine is like a magnet. We will let the following photos tell
most of the story.
The weekend before
the Finals, NHRA organized a Fan Fest across the street from
the Pomona drag strip in the city of La Verne. Race cars and
hot rods of all types were on display and entertainment from
bands and dance groups added the color.
The streets for
a 4 block area were lined with cool machines including Joel Gruzin's
Cagle/Newhouse altered, Terry Masterjuan's "Thunder Chief",
Pete Eastwood's restored Ed Pink "Old Master", The
Howard Cams "Rattler", Dave & Twila Mandella's
1977 Shirley championship car and John Ewald's "BankAmericar"
Some NHRA stars
were on hand to sign autographs including Jeff Arend, Jack Beckman,
John, Britney & Courtney Force and Dave McClelland.
To the enjoyment
of the fans we put a number of "kids", young and old
in the seats for a photo op.
editor Phil Burgess shooting pics of his son in the BankAmericar.
Gordy Gibbs just
had to get in the seat of the Steve Gibbs "Grand Marshal
Tribute" car, be sure to check out Hooks pass at the Hot
Rod Reunion at Steve Gibbs CHRR 2011 on YouTube
of the day was when they rolled the "BankAmericar"
and the Shirley Muldowney champ car into the central intersection
for a cackle. Joey Head of NHRA was in the Bank car and co-owner
Twila Mandella was in Shirly's car. Fired together it brought
the house down filling the area with beautiful cackling and nitro
At the track
the cars were on display again, but due to the Force show the
number of other cars was limited. Here are shots by Ken Hughes
and John Ewald in no particular order.
up the cackle cars they turned on the big screen with the "John
Force Story" that they had to listen to all weekend.
It may have been
the Big Show but when a cacklecar fired the crowd was on hand
The epitome of
a Californian - Brett Johansen brought his own space heater to
the stands. It was a mere 40 degrees... summer in many states.
Gotta love the look on Gary Beck's face.
Speaking of Californians.
A little drizzle and out come the umbrellas. In Oregon we don't
even own umbrellas!
Gary Beck, Henry
Walther, Chase Knight, Bob McClennan Steve Gibbs and Brett Johansen.
On Saturday Kate
Capps (Lil John Buttera's granddaughter) got a cackle in the
Mastercar because the BankAmericar, which her grand dad built,
had already been fired.
The Greeks granddaughter
Krista Baldwin was promoting his team as the hardest working
crew with billboards...it worked!
hard working, volunteer crew.
McClelland and Jack Beckman during one of the autograph sessions.
and Jim Head.
Gibbs, John Force, John Ewald, Don Garlits
in the Howard Cams Ratter with one of the guys who restored it
looking on (Brett Johansen).
On Sunday Kate
with her mom, Leigh Buttera-Capps wanted a cackle in her grandpa
Lil John's car, she even had his helmet...how could I say no.
It is always
a pleasure to have the Buttera family be part of any event. Leigh
shooting photos and Kate in the seat.
was on hand to accept his Wally for winning the Hot Rod Heritage
Series Funny Car title.
Big and Sonny
Messner who raced together for many years. They still remain
Buttera Capps again, this time in the Mastercar.
Now dubbed "Ms.
Cacklefest Driver" Gwen McWilliams got into the Shirley
car for her 3rd cackle of the weekend.
wowed the crowd with Rob Caldiera, a close friend of Bob &
Sharon Muravez, in the seat.
Maxed Out Racing's
crew chief, Bob Danly keeps a close eye on the engine.
On Sunday before
the final round an impromptu tow by FED's in front of the fans...big
reception by them. The matriarch of the Buttera family Leigh
sat in the car her dad built back in 1968...the BankAmericar.
McWilliams was in the Howard Cams Rattler.
Mandella's son Rex was in the Shirley car.
Ashley and Jacob Hood
in the Howard Cams Rattler for the last fire-up of the weekend.
never seen one, this is a body mold.