Going Back In Time . . .
The 15th annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion returned to Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, KY – just in time for Father’s Day weekend. For any car-lover, hot rod junkie this event was the place to be – some may even call it hot rod heaven! The landscape was filled with the most pristine classic cars and hot rods, thrilling quarter-mile nostalgia drag racing; a vintage auto parts and memorabilia swap meet; and a huge vendor midway and of course hosting the Queen of Diamonds II Jet Dragster along with Robert Albertson’s Blazing Angel Jet Dragster to commence each night of nostalgic racing.
For three action packed days, the reunion salutes America’s hot rod legends. Eileen Daniels was the event Grand Marshal – recognizing her more than six decades in hot rodding, drag racing and as part of the NHRA. Eileen and her late Husband were instrumental in bringing the first Holley National Hot Rod Reunions to Bowling Green. Joining Eileen was the 2017 reunion honorees: The Hilton Family, Wayne Jesel, Randy Payne, Mark Williams, and Della Woods.
Each day seemed like a walk down memory lane, a lane that was paved more then a double my age ago. The event was devoted to the old school days of racing and between the Grand Marshall and 2017 honorees; more legends of the sport filled the pits. I was honored to meet folks like Jet Car Bob– a true pioneer of Jets, Jim Walther the 1972 NHRA Top Fuel World Champion, George “Bushmaster” Schreiber a seasoned top fuel & jet dragster driver and Della Woods – she was one of the earliest licensed Nitro Funny Car drivers and is credited with breaking numerous notable speed barrier marks for women. Each person I met has left his or her mark on the sport of Drag Racing one way or another.
Jim Walther was generous to let me have a seat in his AA/FD – Front Engine Dragster Friday morning giving me a whole new perspective for what it’s like to have a motor smack in the middle of your view. The back of my knee caps rested right on top of the rear end while on either side of me was two rear slicks.
As if that wasn’t a cool enough experience, Saturday morning I was given the opportunity to sit in another legends cockpit. Ron Hope and the Rat Trap Fueled Altered. Ron and his family welcomed my parents, and I with open arms and handed me the keys, so to speak. I climbed into the fueled altered, popped in my ear protection and secured a respirator on my face. It was time to burn some nitro. I got to warm up the Rat Trap right there in the pits. After a quick lesson plan, the engine fired up, I released the clutch, held the break – and the throttle was wide open. The sensation is like no other, clouds of nitro filled up the tent and my ears rang from the power, but nothing could wipe the smile off my face.Back to the jets.. That’s right. Weather wasn’t the most forgiving this weekend with wicked rain and thunderstorms Thursday and extreme heat and humidity Friday / Saturday. However – Thursday, Friday and Saturday I defeated the Blazing Angel Jet Dragster. Thursday night we had the obstacle of dew to deal with but still managed to run 5.38 @ 294 MPH. Friday I ran 5.455 @ 289.51 MPH – while Saturday we fought the blaring sun for a full quarter mile, yet crossed the finish line at 5.443 @ 297.81 MPH.As if you couldn’t get the hint it was a fantastic weekend. It was by far the most memorable and meaningful weekend for my family and I to be surrounded by so much history, kind people and turning on three wins lights is always a plus. Check out my Facebook page for the complete album of photos from the weekend!
Al foreshadowed the event by saying, “ It’s like opening a history book and all the characters you read about are there, right in front of you”.