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"The Biggest Little Show"
Event Report by Bill Pitts

Hello Race Fans:

I know it happened, because I was there--and so were a ton of other folks. The Escondido Police department counts available parking places left in the area, and came up with a figure that approaches "outdoor concert" numbers for those in attendance.

Approximately 30,000 folks, crammed into the old downtown business district, to view a slice of what drew many of us to drag racing in the first place--the sight, sound, feel, and smell, of a nitromethane burning competition car. And these were no ordinary competition cars.

These were competition cars from drag racing's past. Cars that either ceased to compete, many years ago, or are apparitions of cars that no longer exist. Cars that made up some of "golden age" drag racing's most astounding visions. Cars that were some of the quickest and fastest, for their day.

Participating Cars and Owners

Larry Huff's "Soapy Sales" AA/FD Tommy Allen
Tommy Ivo's Barnstormer AA/FD Ron Johnson
BankAmericar AA/FD John Ewald
Wynn's Spoiler AA/FD Bobby Hansen
ChiZler AA/FD Ron Johnson
Magicar AA/FD Bill Pitts
Southwind III AA/FD Jay Carpenter
Tocco, Harper, Garten AA/FA Mike Tocco
Beaver Hunter AA/FA Thomas-Pritchard & Harrison
Gruzen-Newhouse AA/FA Joel Gruzen
Schultz & Glenn AA/FD Dan & Crystal Gerber
Mastercar AA/FD John Ewald
Climax AA/FA Steve Serot & Rick Bulluni
Smirnoff AA/FD Joe Passalaqua
Thunder Chief AA/FD Terry Mastrejuan
Dean Eng. Special AA/FD Jake McCloud
Yeakle Plymouth Spec. AA/FD Frank Baney & Paul Rossi
Joe Schubeck AA/FD Joe Schubeck
The Poachers AA/FD Paul Schavrien
Joe Schubeck AA/FD Joe Schubeck
Cook & Bedwell A/D Ray Lake


"Normal" vintage drag racing events usually take days. This was a "It was like a magic act, now you see it, now you don't". With the streets closing at 2:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, and opening again by 10:00 p.m. or so. Everyone hit the ground running, and before you knew it (5 hours later) you were saying your goodbyes and heading out into the night. That's unload, fuel up, fire up, cool down, refuel, push to staging, fire and push, load up, and go! It was astounding!

And with each car, came a variety of young and old, hero and fan--all with the single purpose of putting on the best show they could. This wasn't a drag strip several miles from civilization. This was a city street and people who never thought they would see it, saw a glimpse of drag racing's past--for free!

Special thanks must be given to Steve Waldron, head of Escondido's "Cruisin' Grand", for presenting "Nitro Night" at the Grand Finale cruise of their season. And for jumping through all the hoops necessary to get the proper approval for this really unique street event, and acquiring the necessary sponsors to hopefully cover expenses. And to Ron Johnson for coordinating a line up of cackle cars for the event that made such an impression on those in attendance. Also Connie Braun of the Cacklecar Owner's Alliance for handling waivers and wristbands. Also Steve Gibbs and the scores of assistants and volunteers that took up positions of responsibility that were vital to the safe operation of this very special show.

It was hard on everybody...but the end result was achieved--a lasting impression of astonishment and appreciation for "the good old days" of drag racing, that was carried home by all those in attendance.
And that is why we came.

My thanks to all those teams who brought a portion of golden age night time drag racing back to life, for all those present to enjoy.

Sincerely, Bill Pitts




The participating cars assembled in a shopping center parking lot prior to caravaning into their parking/staging areas on Grand Ave. This marked the debut of the Ron Johnson restored glass sided trailer for the Tommy Ivo Barnstormer.













A before and after shot of Grand.


Once on Grand, the cars were unloaded and the trailers moved to a remote location for easy loading after the event.







The car that started it all - Bill Pitts "Magicar".









No shortage of nitro.






















Cindy Gibbs, Mom Gordy and Connie Braun - the Cat Herders












It was great to see Cacklefest newbie Joe Schubeck out with his restored car. He's liking this cacklecar deal.






































Ray Lake, Rick McDonald and Steve Gibbs with the featured car, Cook & Bedwell.


Randy Walls brought out his Nova Funny Car to desplay and fire up to start the nighttime show.



It was great to see John Ewald out and in remission from his epic battle with bladders cancer. His energy level is very low but his attitude is back.





5:30 Fire-ups


Not all the cars opted to do the early fire-up but the ones that did were led off by Ellie Stafford in the Cook & Bedwell car.





Terry Mastrejuan in his Thunder Chief.





New owner of the Climax AA/FA, Scott Krenzer of Tucson, Az. continued the tradition of bringing it to Nitro Night, now for the 4th year




Harry Burkholder in their AA/FA




Roger Garten in the Tocco Harper & Garten AA/FA




Dave Gruzen in the Newhouse-Gruzen fuel roadster.



Tommy "The Watchdog" Allen in his Larry Huff's Soapy Sales AA/FD.






Gerry "The Hunter" Glenn in the Schultz & Glenn AA/FD.





Bill Pitts' Magicar with John Strom in the seat.







Jimmy Scott in Jay Carpenter's "Southwind III" AA/FD






Andy Humenik had the seat of Paul Schavrien's "The Poachers" AA/FD






Paul Rossi in the Yeakel Plymouth Spec. AA/FD







Kol Johnson in the seat of Ron Johnson's "ChiZler" AA/FD.







Ivo was not yet present so Mark McCormick got the early fire-up in the Barnstormer.







Joe Schubeck was in his own car.







Bobby Hansen's Wynns Spoiler AA/FD.







Dave West was in Jake McCloud's Dean Eng. Spec.






Joe Passalaqua's beautiful "Smirnoff" AA/FD with John Weidler in the seat.







Don Ewald was back in the seat of the BankAmeircar AA/FD







A fan got the seat of John Ewald's Mastercar for the early fire-up, didn't get his name. Ewald's crew chief, Mario Garcia was in the car for the night show.






Thomas-Pritchard & Harrison "Beaver Hunter".











Randy Walls led off the nitro with his funny car.



Also on hand was the restored Shirley Muldowney championship car of Dave Mandella.




The simulated push starts were led off by the Cook & Bedwell car...



































































The one and only. TV Tom.


Had a great time on Broadway, but nightfall is complete, the show is over, all loaded up and ready to go to the next one!




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