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The largest crowd in the event's history, at least 7,000 to 10,000 people, attended the 6th annual Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo and Car Show along Atlantic Ave. on Saturday July 9. A full complement of cacklecars and the First Lady of Drag Racing Shirley Muldowney were the show high lights.

The event, organized by 8th dist. Councilwoman Rae Gabelich and Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association Exec. Dir. Blair Cohn, is a visible and audible tribute to the sights and sounds of the southland's chrome, horsepower and pre-OPEC car culture. This year's event featured over 200 pre-1975 vintage classic cars, hot rods, street rods and special interest vehicles on Atlantic Ave. stretching from Roosevelt Rd. to San Antonio Rd.

At dusk, the crowd converged on on Atlantic Ave./Carson St. where 17 dragsters were displayed... ...and amid watchful pit crew members, the dragsters lit their 2,500 horsepower engines simultaneously for a flame-throwing, decibel blasting "cacklefest." It was felt viscerally by those nearby and heard considerably beyond. Opportunities to sit the drivers' seats of the roaring dragsters (with drive trains disconnected) were auctioned off on the spot to the highest bidders to benefit the Southern CA Special Olympics.

The cars that made up the bulk of the cacklefest were all somehow connected by their historic link to the time period when the Lions Drag Strip drew massive crowds - not unlike the one at Atlantic & Carson every Saturday. They nearly all fell into that 1955-72 frame that Lions dominated SoCal drag racing.

Even with the thermometer climbing it was a perfect summer day, much cooler than years past. Organizers said the 2011 show was certainly the biggest yet.

Now enjoy a mixed bag of photos below that hopefully portray the flavor of the day.




Coming in one could see race car trailers double parked down an entire city block.


The staging area was on another block.


Newlyweds Darrell & Pam Conrad, Shirley and Orah Mae Millar.


Sheri Watson from the NHRA museum was out with all kinds of goodies.






Not much cackle but very cool!


At some point all the cars started to get set for the afternoon cackle.



Being in Bixby Knolls they had to have drag boats. In the day, the Long Beach Marine Stadium was the Lions of drag boat racing.




Danny "Buzz" Broussard, Don "Wavemaker" Prieto and Spider Razon. Tons of history in this trio.





















Connie Braun made sure all the paperwork was kosher.



Rick McDonald, Jim Rossi, Jerry Bivens, Frank Baney and Chris Young (Frank's brother) had a friendly poker game to lull away some of the morning.


Guess who won this hand.


Ronnie Hampshire holding court.





"Team Photos" leading off with Rick McDonald, Ron Johnson (guest appearance), Bill Pitts and Vince Yamasaki.


Team Gruzen - LtoR Joel Gruzen, Brad Terry, Tracy Terry, Tim Brown, Dave Gruzen


Jay Carpenter and Dominic Cardoza


Bobby Hansen and Bill Shilling with the Wynns Spoiler.


The Ratican-Jackson-Stearns A/FA backed by Ron Stearns, Tom Apgar and Jim Turner.


Bob Patterson, Paul Martenson, Kurt Odegard, Rich Esparza, Ron Buzdas, Robert Reel, Richard Reel and Harry Burkholder.


Bruce Gentner, Bob Hirsch and Bob Schnerege.


Roland Kleinsorge, Tommy Allen and Pat Coyle.


Bob Danly, Ron Johnson's Grandson Jeff Milton, Ron, Ray Lake and Richard “Jesus” Vasquez.


Kneeling; L to R Jimmy Rossi, Paul Rossi
Standing; L to R Jerry Bivens, Julie Bivens, Frank Baney, Ronalle Baney, Erin Meyer, Janet Bivens, Chris Young, Tyler Baney.


Rossi and "The Wedding Singer" (inside story) Gwen McWilliams.


Don Prieto and his Hustler VI.


Sonny Messner and friend


Ron Johnson with your hero and mine, T.V.




Worlds fastest shopping basket.



Danny Broussard, Bob Bradley, Ronnie & Jeep Hampshire.


Ivo and chassis wizard Steve Plueger.




This event was the debut of Shirley's fully restored 1977 World Championship Attebury car. Dave Mandella is responsible for this beauty and Shirley was in awe when she saw it.








Shirley had two sessions at at her autograph table and the requests where non stop.


Shirley chatting with Bob Danly, Darrell Conrad and Bob "Floyd" Muravez.




Dean Aandrews' dad won the bid for a fire-up in the Barnstormer for him but since Dean was not 16 he had to forefeit the seat to his dad.




First of Two Fire-up Sessions


Officially kicking off round one of the Cacklefest was John Ewald, the man behind the mic. For the benefit of all the Nitro virgins in attendance, Ewald explained to the anxiously awaiting crowd, which was growing larger by the moment; the history behind these diggers, their fuel of choice and how they ran.

Most of the folks in the seats here were the high bidders for the charity - Long Beach Special Olympics.


First to lite was Bob Hirsch's tribute reproduction of the Marvin Schwartz "Anaconda" with Kathy Bowman "driving".





Jeff Bathurst in John Ewald's Mastercar.





Steve and Gloria Gibbs had a road side seat.



John Deats got the seat in the Magicar.





Dominic Cardoza was in Jay Carpenters Woody Tribute Car.



Ron Stearns put the Tyra T. Lily McNair his Fiat. She was there from World TV doing interviews with some of the racers.




Scott Andrews was high bidder for the Barnstormer.




Steve Glau won the Wynns Winder ride.





"John" won the auction for the seat in Gruzen's car.


Ron Johnson went over the start-up, shut-down procedures to Rae Gabelich before her cackle in the ChiZler.


Rae is no stranger to dragsters and life in the fast lane, as she is the widow of the legendary 1970 world land speed record holder, Gary (Rocketman) Gabelich.






Harry Burkholder fired the Brothers AA/FA.





For the second year in a row the “Dean Engineering” dragsters seat was filled by Guy Gabelich, the son of Gary and Rae.





Ron Hampshire in Prieto's Hustler VI





Sonny Messner in his Swamp Rat III





Tommy Allen in his Woody Trick Car.





Rae Gabelich and Ron Johnson after their fire-up.


To cap it off was Shirley for the first public fire-up of her '77 car. Ewald interviewed Shirley for the crowd before hand.









Dave and Twila Mandella, Pete (the cars painter) and Janette Santini, Amos Satterlee and Pete Pasillas (lettered the car).


Rae and Shirley


Header flames anyone?




Evening Fire-up


John Ewald once again gave the crowd a history lesson on the cars covering the chassis, bodies, engines, tires, clutches and fuel. Many fans left knowing a lot more about the sport than they had when they arrived. For the evening fire up Ewald switched the cars across the intersection so the headers now faced the crowd. When the 17 nitro burning cars shut off the roar of the crowd was almost as deafening. This was definitely a nitro loving crowd!


Shirley, Doug Kruse and "Famous Amos" Satterlee.


Everybody just hung around waiting for the sky to darken.



Kathy Westurmank and Bob Hirsch






Eily Stafford who drives an NE-1 car.


For the Long Beach Special Olympics the days total was much better than last years, $5,355.00. Shirley really got the fans out for this.


Steve Beatty and the award is the 2011 Gary Gabelich "Rocketman" Award. It is given each year to someone who has been very helpful and involved in the Bixby Knolls event. He has done a lot in organizing volunteers for the car show as well as getting car clubs to be involved.



Once again Ewald gave the huge crowd a history lesson in drag racing.


For this session Shirley went first.










Jeep Hampshire in his old seat.


Scott Monks in the Wynns Spoiler.





Art Whitney


Bob Slovick got the Mighty Mouse.





Ryan Westermarle got some Prieto horsepower.




Alex Imholff got the seat of the Mastercar.









Inside was a tribute to Mickey Thompson and other iron from the NHRA museum.










More photos at AAFD News

Now, enjoy the videos.


Bixby Knolls Cackle Car Finale 2011




More Video From Long BeachReport.com



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