Long Fun Weekend at Pomona
The 40th NHRA
World Finals, held at Pomona Raceway on November 11-14, 2004
served as a specular format for Big Yohns Racing, their Shubert
& Herbert recreation and other legends from drag racing history.
This was the last of 24 races in the 2004 season of the NHRA
Drag Racing Series. As always, the World Finals puts a period
on a season and draws huge crowds getting their last nitro fix
until the Winternationals. This year was no exception but there
was even more "butts in the seats" because of the "bonus
show" sponsored and organized by the folks from the Wally
Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. A huge display of over 30 vintage
race cars and exhibition runs by some of the best Nostalgia Top
Fuel dragsters and Fuel Altereds in the world brought out folks
who would have passed on the "Big Show" by itself.
the High School mechanics Show and Tell at at Pomona and I left
home at 6:00 A. M. to get there in time. Shubert/Herbert is pretty
much done, the tow car is pretty much done and now the trailer
is pretty much done. This was the first time the El Camino was
hooked up to the completed trailer, and with Shubert/Herbert
Show" cars were just starting to set up their zip code size
pit areas while a hand full of volunteer Cacklecars were putting
on a show for thousands of school kids who were guests of NHRA
and the US Army. Why is this a good thing? There wasn't a person
in the stands that was born - even thought about - when these
cars were racing. These appreciative young adults got a birds
eye view of drag racing history. "What do you mean, dragsters
used to have the engine in FRONT on the driver!".
Here's a "straight"
to draw to! Wild Bill Alexander in the Ernie's Camera Shop car,
the Ewald Brothers "BankAmericar", the Weekly, Rivero,
Fox and Holding "Frantic Four", us (pinch myself),
the Kuhl and Olson car and finally the Howard Cam Rattler. Never
in a million years did I ever expect to be part of a deal like
El Camino and Shubert
& Herbert in wait.
Ron and son Kol behind
For this affair, Big Yohns Racing
crew chief, Marc McCormick got the seat. My suit fits Zane pretty
good, but no way would Marc be able to wear it. They wanted vintage
stuff, so Marc borrowed Dennis Plater's fire suit jacket. That
along with my helmet, goggles, gloves etc. finished Marc off.
All he was missing was spats! You youngsters have no idea what
spats were, do you? I'm not going to tell you, look it up with
We were a little late getting
there (bad traffic from San Diego) and we didn't intend to pre-fire
so we simply expected the car to light up on track, as needed.
You all know how this kind of expectation can lead to disappointment!
But, Shoobie (short for Shubert/Herbert) was as nice as pie and
fired right up, idled perfectly and was a real gentleman for
Marc's first cackle. Perfection.
Marc gives the
"thumbs up" after his first push start - first cackle.
Yea, he dug it!
As you can see, we haven't changed
the fuel tank yet, it's still only about two gallons. But with
the 15% Nitro load we are running currently, and the barrel valve
leaned out some, it ran quite a while. In fact we ran until only
Kuhl and Ewald were left running, trying to burn each other down.
Sunday was another deal entirely.
There were going to be about 25 cars lined up, backed against
the safety wall at track edge, facing the grandstands and we
would all fire up together. We lined up behind the grandstands
at the tunnel where the cars return to the pit. Then we waited!
On the way up there, I dashed
over to Doug Herbert's pit area and boldly interrupted him while
he was talking to his crew. I quickly explained that we were
only a couple of hundred feet away, with the car his dad ran
in 1965 and we would be delighted if he would come over and take
a look. He very graciously accepted my offer and said he'd be
over there as soon as he could.
Within about five minutes he was there. I had gone up to the
head of the line and wasn't there when he got there. I returned
just in time to grab my camera and snap this shot of Doug in
the car. He's a good sized fellow, about my height, but much
trimmer than I. He dropped right into the car and got a pretty
big smile on his face. We'll be seeing him again, you can count
While we waited for our time,
as we got close we were told to get everything ready, so Zane
hopped into the car and got situated and we hooked up battery
cables and got everything ready to fire. This time, we had pre-fired
back in the pits and made sure our combination was going to be
okay. We tried for the first time, to start the car with the
biggest Odyssey 12 volt battery. We had been using our race car
battery box, which is a 6 and a 12 volt Ultima making 18 volts.
It does great, but it's so heavy that with my Doctor imposed
lifting limit, I can't move it. The Odyssey weighs only about
25 pounds and is a piece of cake for me. It worked fine, although
the long cables sapped some oomph and it was kind of lazy turning
over. We have since shortened the cables from 12 feet to 3 feet.
Zane Shubert ran the "Shubert
& Herbert" car dry. It was really fun to see Zane with
such a sparkle in his eye, and now that the medical reports have
come in, that he is, indeed, Cancer Free, he is enjoying himself
a great deal. He had his stepson, Kevin Corbett, with him. It
was the first time I had met Kevin and I think it was probably
the first time he had seen Zane in a race car. I think it was
an enjoyable experience for both of them, so that it was more
special yet for all of us!
Well, this is probably the last function for 2004. I still haven't
really figured out how much the car and trailer cost. I don't
think I will work on that any more, I already know more than
I need to about it. But, was it worth it? Yes, yes, You Bet!
The existence of the car has had a profound effect on some people
besides me. It is much more satisfying than the Street Rod than
I had prior to the race car. I was concerned that the ownership
experience of Shubert/Herbert would be like that was. The car
was a nice 32 Ford Victoria, previously owned by Andy "Rodfather"
Brizio and his wife Sue. I always felt "flat" when
I took it to a cruise or car show or whatever. It was nice but
few if anyone but me cared.
With Shubert/Herbert, each outing is an adventure and the response
of the people who look at it and touch it is so different than
the Street Rod crowd. Taking nothing away from them as people,
but for the most part they're just not racers and race fans.
I didn't fit there, I do here.
Kol has been in it with the motor running, Marc has, Zane has,
Ronnie Goodsell has. My turn next! I have never been in the seat
of a Nitro burner with the motor running. It's about time, don't