car in the DoubleTree lobby was the Starlite III.
Suzie & Roland
and Marie Cochran before the event.
Manager of Education and Public Relations and Graciela Sanchez,
NHRA Licensing/Field Marketing Coordinator.
The High Speed Motorsports Top
Fuel crew were on hand to support team member Walt Stevens that
included Tom Shelar, Rian Kono, Danny Porsche, Todd Shappie,
Jennifer Luna, Brett Johansen, Roger McMartin, Erin and Sean
Bellemeur and Troy Green.
Bob Smith and friends.
T.C. Lemons was thrilled
to be there.
Stevens with his wife Maria, daughter Cynthia, and granddaughter
As always, Dave McClelland
served as MC.
As always, this event
played to a SRO audience.
Track sponsor AAA was
represented by Rick Lalor.
Greg Sharp had his moment.
After calling Steve Gibbs to
the stage McClelland introduced Tony Thacker who then, on behalf
of the NHRA Motorsports Museum, recognized Steve for his countless
contributions to the sport of drag racing.
Few knew it but Steve was feeling
horrible. The next morning he was so ill he required medial attention
and was ordered to stay in bed for the remainder of the weekend.
It seems the medication he was taking caused a very bad reaction
to the sun. Needless to say, it killed Gibbs to miss the bulk
of the CHRR and his presence was greatly missed.
Ed Justice Jr. recognized the
recipients of the Justice Bros. Spotlight Award - Stone Woods
Tom Ivo was introduced
as part of the next award.
the famous Stone Woods and Cook AA/GS cars, were Mike Cook (Doug
Cook's son 4th from right) and Lenny Woods (Tim Woods' son- 3rd
from left) along with the gentlemen who restored the two most
famous Stone Woods & Cook AA/GS Willis. We do not have their
names at this time.
honoree was Danny "Buzz" Broussard
Danny was the first person to
have Keith Black Racing Engines lettered on his race car. His
first strip-only race car was a 29 roadster pickup powered
by an injected Buick. It appeared in Hot Rod Magazine in 1960
and was followed shortly by a Willys gasser. His first dragster
was in partnership with Joel Purcell in the early 60s.
He then joined Stump Davis and fellow honoree Don
Moody when their Oldsmobile was replaced with the blown-Chrysler
from Doc Magans Golden Thing drag boat. Next
was an early Woody Gilmore chassis for the team of Broussard,
Purcell, Davis and Tom the Mongoose McEwen. The Adams
and McEwen Shark car was re-worked by Kent Fuller
into the Broussard, Garrison, Davis and Ongais Mangler
which raced successfully through the 65 World Finals in
Tulsa. Shortly thereafter, Roland Leong asked Danny to join the
Hawaiian crew which he was part of for several years including
racing the 426 Hemi-powered Hawaiian Two driven by
Alumni Honoree Kent Fuller
The next to be recognized was
Top Fuel driver Don Moody who first came to notoriety at the
wheel of the Davis and Moody dragster that won Top Eliminator
honors at Lions Drag Strip an incredible eight weeks in a row.
In November 1962 Moody became the first to run a seven second
e.t. at Pomona. He moved on to the Fuller, Zeuschel and Moody
Top Fuel dragster until a serious crash at Lions in August 1964
put a temporary halt to his driving career. In the early 70s
while working as general manager at Engle Cams, he returned to
the wheel running low 6s in the Cerny, Lins and Moody dragster.
At the 72 Supernationals at Ontario driving the Walton,
Cerny and Moody rear engine machine, he was narrowly beaten into
the 5-second bracket by Mike Snivelys 5.97, but won the
event with a 5.91. During that season he went from 6.37 with
a 392 Chrysler to a 5.91 with a 426 in less than a years
time and won the $25,000 PRA Challenge in Tulsa. He later left
Engle and operated Traco Racing Engines until his retirement
and move to Thailand.
It seems at most any event there
is one person who can put a black spot on it and in this case
it was the younger Don Moody who was not even invited in the
first place. Don now lives in Thailand and could not attend and
asked his daughter Darielle to accept the award in his name.
To her shock the rogue half brother showed up and not wanting
to make a scene, she allowed him to go on stage with her. But
it didn't end there. After the deal was over he grabbed the Wally,
gathered up his stuff, and took off for home in Washington. He
refuses to return the trophy.
Next to be honored was one of
the best drag racing photographers of all time - Steve Reyes
who went from being a 15-yr-old fan with an 8mm movie camera
to perhaps the best known photographer in the history of drag
racing. He began his career at Fremont Drag Strip near his Oakland
home. In the beginning he sold prints to the racers, with an
occasional submission to Drag News. In 1965 he sent photos of
the March Meet to Drag Racing and Drag Strip magazines and his
career was off and running. In 1967 he became NHRAs Division
7 photographer and in 1970 moved to Los Angeles. Promotional
work for Revell and Mattel led to a full time job with Argus
Publishers in late 1973 where he did 70% of the cover photography
and 85% of the inside color. After twenty years he returned to
freelancing. The versatile Reyes branched out into shooting the
National Hockey League as he continued to supply material to
numerous automotive titles. He is now semi-retired living in
Florida and has done a series of popular books featuring some
of his greatest images.
The fourth honoree was the legendary
"Jetcar Bob" Smith who began his drag racing career
at the wheel of the Masters and Richter Olds-powered gasser at
Fremont Raceway. He then moved on to Sid Watermans Chevy-powered
gas dragster, Tom Prufers Power King fuel dragster
and back to Watermans fuel car. He briefly drove a fuel
dragster for Romeo Palamides until Romeo asked him to drive his
Untouchable jet dragster. They toured the country
for several years as one of the most popular exhibition attractions
in drag racing, match racing fuel dragsters and other jets. Between
bookings he continued to be a journeyman driver, behind the wheel
of as many as three gas or fuel dragsters at one meet. Although
he made hundreds of flawless passes, a series of spectacular
accidents left him battered and broken. When asked why he got
back in the jet after a particularly nasty crash, he replied
To pay the hospital bills for the last one!
The final honoree was Walt Stevens
who came out of that hot bed of drag racing talent on the west
side of L.A. that included stars like Leonard Harris, Mickey
Brown, Gene Adams and Craig Breedlove. In the mid-60s he
was the original driver of the Childs and Albert Addict
fuel dragster, shared driving chores on the experimental rear-engine
Piranha with Connie Swingle, and drove Dick Stahls
Hemi-Ford AA/FA roadster. In 1969-70 he drove Jack McClouds
Poachers Top Fuel car, one of the last successful
front engine fuelers. He switched to Top Gas and in the last
year of the category won the Winternationals driving Ken Theiss
Chevy and Chrysler-powered Odd Couple dragster. He
serves on the crew of the 2008 Heritage Series champion High
Speed Motorsports Nostalgia Top Fuel dragster driven by Troy
Green and currently enjoys taking the wheel of his former ride
the Poachers dragster for Cacklefest events.
Walt had his built in
fan club in the High Speed Motorsports team.
Walt's wife Maria, daughter
Cynthia, and granddaughter Desiree.
The Wally wasn't all that awaited
Walter. Paul Schavrien who owns the Poachers cacklecar which
was originally driven by Stevens presented him with his own street
sign and an exact copy of the helmet he wore in 1970 when he
was driving the Poachers and Odd Couple Top Gas cars.
Last but not least was Grand
Marshall, Jess Tyree is a stock and Funny Car veteran of over
fifty years in the sport. Jess started drag racing in the early
days of the Santa Ana Drags with a variety of vehicles including
a 38 Chevy. A few years later he raced a 57 Plymouth
Fury, was recognized for his ability and was asked to drive a
new 57 Pontiac. From 1957-73 (except for a brief
spell behind the wheel of a Mickey Thompson Ford Thunderbolt)
it was always the GM brand earning Jess the nickname Mr.
Pontiac. Through the early 60s, his A/Stock 62
Catalina and A/FX 63 Tempest were at the top of West Coast
competition. He scored a big win with Super Stock class honors
at the 62 Winternationals driving a Mickey Thompson Pontiac
Catalina. He went on to race a long series of Pontiac Funny Cars
out of his successful Tyree Headers shop in Orange County beginning
with the Tempest and moving on to glass bodied Firebirds.
In 1969 he was one of the first to take a Funny Car to Australia,
and was a member of the Coca-Cola Funny Car Cavalcade of Stars
touring the country in 1969 and 70. After more than half
a century of drag racing, Jess is still out there match racing
and performing exhibitions around the country with the re-creation
of his 63 Tempest A/FXer.
After losing his wife
this year, this was a very emotional deal for Jess.
But Big Mac managed to put a
smile on his face and it turned into something very special.
Tyree has been racing since the early 60s and he current ride
is an eight second Pontiac that ran exhibition at the reunion.
mine and I love it!"
Prudhomme signed the
GBP art before it was auctioned off.
The Class of 2009
The last indoor function of the
night was an auction to raise money for the museum.
Harry Hibler and the
First Lady of Drag Racing, Linda Vaughn.
and LV finally realize that neither is a kid anymore.
Evelyn Fuller and the very talented Tom Hanna.
Moving outside to where Cacklefest
officially begins and a handful of the debut cars were about
to wake up the entire hotel.
Roland looked quite at home in
the seat of his repopped (by Dave Jeffers) 1965 Hawaiian.
Rob Beattie was on hand to fire-up
the Jim & Alison Lee "Great Expectations" restoration
done by Bruce Dyda and owned by his dad Brian.
Paul "The Kid" Sutherland
was on hand to fire Roger Lee's Brissette & Sutherland car.
Obviously the fit isn't what it used to be which explains why
he wasn't in the car for Cacklefest.
Not much on cackle but
the big Arfons Allison did rumble.
When the Hawaiian came
to life the nitrofest began.
Bruce Dyda oversaw the
Paul Sutherland in Roger Lee's
Brissette & Sutherland fueler was voted best flames.
Check out the headers!
Roger damn near melted them off.
The Poachers was alive
One glowing header here
Donny Couch had Cruz
hitting on all eight.
Jerry Ruth was back in
the seat of his 1969 car recently restored by Bucky Austin.