2007 NHRA Winternationals Cacklefest
CA February 09-11: The cacklecars were invited and they came
- 26 in all. NHRA gave them all the pit space they needed in
a prime location behind the grandstands. Everyone arrived and
set up on time... all was well. Even though a chance of rain
was predicted for Friday and Saturday none came. For two days
the cacklecars did several static fire ups attracting hundreds
of fans. Their segment of the show was to go off between the
semi finals and final rounds on Sunday. It was to be the largest
presentation of these vintage warriors ever at an NHRA national
event. Was to be are the key words. Saturday night the rain,
that had stalled for many hours, broke through and continued
until 11 AM Sunday morning washing away any chance they had for
"filler shows" which included the Cacklefest and Nostalgia
Top Fuel and Funny car exhibition runs.
Not for the first time and assuredly not the last, Mother
Nature changed the course of a drag race and the losers were
the fans who didn't get to see the fabled Pomona track featuring
one push start after another. Incredibly, after shorting the
Pro turn-around times to 60 minutes, NHRA got the track dried
and finished the entire program within the TV time restrictions.
It was no ones fault we didn't get to do the Cacklefest but the
thousands of fans in attendance knew we were there. Here are
some shots from the weekend. Needless to say, the coverage would
have been spectacular had the Cacklefest actually happened.
Photos by: John Ewald, Dan Kaplan, Don Ewald,
Paula Roth and Jeffrey DeGrandis
The Belle of this ball was the
debut of the beautifully restored Wale & Candies 1963 dragster.
As always, Pat Foster did an incredible job of bringing this
piece back to life. Paul (Candies) has kept this car in his possession
since it was replaced by a later model in 1965. Dale Armstrong
built the engine for the restoration and as one would expect,
it sounded stout.
Although it is not a cacklecar,
this was the other half of Paul's double hitter - another Foster
restoration - the 1976 NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship car
of Candies & Hughes that was driven by the multi-talented
Richard Tharp. As is the Wale & Candies car, this is drop
dead gorgeous and it was no surprise to anyone who knows him
when Paul officially donated it to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports
Museum on Thursday night during Wally's 94th Birthday Bash.
Paul Candies and his
sons with the latest member of the cacklecar family.
From the first people
in the gate the cacklecars were not only a huge draw for the
fans but also a great meeting place for the legends of the sport.
Al Bergler's "More
Aggravation" is hard to miss at any event.
Ron Johnson and Steve
"The Organizer" Gibbs with the Shubert & Herbert
The Wing is back! After
a crash at the 2005 VRA Finals, the car was completely redone
over the 2006 season and is now officially back in action. This
is great news for the fans.
Ed Lenarth's "Holy
Toledo" was the lone Funny Car in the group.
Pure Heaven made the
short tow from the museum to the track on Thursday.
Team cars, Norm Weekly
with the "Frantic 4" and Dennis Prater's "Stellings
John Ewald's traveling
road show - the BankAmericar and Mastercar.
Sonny Messner was on
hand with his Swamp Rat III recreation.
Don Garlits, in for the
Cacklefest in Messner's car, was all over the place. Here he
chats with Dennis Prater and "Wild Bill" Alexander.
Big Show Kalitta shoe
Dave Grubnic was among the many "new school" players
who ventured from the Pro pits to see their history.
car of Paul & Pam Schavrien.
Jim Green had his "Assassin"
on hand - easily one of the top 5 restorations in the world.
Friday was the maiden
fire-up for the Wale & Candies car with Foster in the seat
and Armstrong overseeing the engine.
However the first attempt
revealed some chinks in the armor as the idler assembly didn't
hold up to the stress of the snout starter.
With help from Bob Danly
and John Ewald the repairs were made.
As his car was readied,
Paul Candies was doing what he always did best, interact with
friends and fans and then look forward to writing the checks
at the end of the month.
With the engine fired,
Armstrong adjusted the barrel valve and got a good, crisp idle.
Running smooth, the car
was ready for Cacklefest.
On Saturday Norm Weekly
orchestrated an "all car" fire up. Most of the cars
took part and were grouped together looking like the staging
lanes of a mid 60's March Meet.
Bill Alexander in place
for his Ernie's Camera "Shudder Bug" fire up.
Retired Top Fuel and
Funny Car driver John Collins was in the seat of John Ewald's
"Mastercar". Here he catches up with Ronnie and Jeep
Collins and Cochran.
These two faced each other numerous times in the late 60's and
in floppers in the 70's.
Gary Cochran ready in
the Stellings & Hampshire car.
Don Ewald waits for his
turn in the BankAmericar.
First to fire was the
Kuhl & Olson car - a Cacklefest staple from day one.
Carl Olson looking lost
in the K&O cockpit.
Al Bergler rumbles his
"More Aggravation" fuel coupe.
Ron Stearns joined in
Trevor Larkin in his
SBC fuel car.
No name but the guy in
the Frantic 4 car is an Indy car shoe.
Original driver Walt
Stevens in The Poachers.
Rod Alexander prepares
to fire the Shudder Bug.
The stout Pontiac sounding
great on 90%.
Gary Cochran in the Stellings
& Hampshire car was next to fire.
Beckman got the seat in the Howard Cams Rattler.
John Collins in the seat
of a Top Fuel car for the first time in 36 years. As all of us
have experienced, all his racing memories flooded back during
the 4 minute run time.
Don Ewald enjoyed his
memories in the BankAmericar.
Dusty McWilliams in Jim
Green's "Assassin" - the only Ford SOHC powered cacklecar
in the country.
Foster closed the show
in the Wale & Candies beauty.
Two class acts - Paul
Candies and Gary Beck.
Don Ewald and Ron Johnson
of Cacklefest.com oversee the awesome display of cars.
Two old vets, Gary Ritter
and John Collins.
Speaking of vets - Richard
Tharp, Marvin Graham, Herm Petersen and Dan Richens get together
during the last session of Pro qualifying.
By 11 AM the rain stopped
and the task of drying the track began.
Sunday - 10 AM - this
photo says it all. At this point all knew the Cacklefest was
toast and there was no guarantee the Big Show would get off.
To heat things up, Pat
Foster jumped from the Candies car into the S&H car for another
Not ones to sit around
and let a little rain spoil the fun, John Ewald jumped into his
Mastercar to wake the folks up.
After John, Don Ewald
fired up the BankAmericar.
Another car that was
a Sunday arrival was Jay Carpenter's dual engine "Syndicate".
Bill Pitts' "MagiCar"
didn't come up from San Diego until Sunday morning - just in
time to find out the show was called off. So, as to not make
it a totally wasted trip, he put Jeep Hampshire in the car for
a fire up. It was a great diversion for the fans waiting for
the track to get dried.
Jay fired her up and
it was 16 cylinders on nitro.
Henry Walther, Paul Candies
and Pat Foster.
There was plenty of time
for visiting on Sunday. Here Carl Olson and who chat while Dave
McClelland and Gordy Bonin exchange lies.
As racing finally got
under way, we find Richard Tharp and Donnie Couch exchange numbers.
Or, Tharp is paying off a bet.
Since we didn't have
a Cacklefest and that left us way short of photos, here's a few
shots by John Ewald of how the other side lives at the races.
Above in John Force Racing's Bernie Fedderly in his office while
Austin Coil toils in his.
Will these be the cacklecars
of 2040? Scary thought.....
Very cool, right? But
are they having fun? Force or not, sometimes all the best "stuff"
money can buy can't get you past the first round.
Check back for more
event coverage as they happen.