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5th Holley NHRA Reunion Scores Big with Fans in Columbus
Thousands of fans, racers, hot rodders and teams enjoyed a great weekend as the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion came to Columbus, June 15-17. The Reunion was the fifth event of its kind in the eastern U.S.
“We’re very pleased with our move to Columbus,” said Tony Thacker, executive director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, which produces and benefits from the event. “Everyone we’ve asked has had a good time and plans to return next year, June 13-15. National Trail Raceway gives us room to expand and we expect to be here for a long time.”
Tony Thacker (left) with American Graffiti star Paul LeMat
“We just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the reunion this past weekend at National Trails Raceway” Pat and Bruce Herbison wrote in an email to the event organizers after the Reunion’s completion. “We have attended the reunions in Bakersfield 12 times, the first east coast reunion at National Trails, all of the events in Bowling Green and now this recent one back at National Trails - each is memorable in its own way - this year it was the Cacklefest. Having the top fuelers park on the return road at the end was a great idea. We in the stands on the pit side were able to see the cars up close. Having the program start in the daylight and end just as the sun was setting really
The cacklefest continues to attract huge audiences - where else will you hear over 10 'blown' motors running at the same time
The Reunions celebrate the heritage of American hot rodding entrepreneurs and provide the only confluence of racing, rodding and honors in a three-day festival of speed.
Troy Green won the Nostalgia Top Fuel championship. It’s the fourth consecutive year that the High Speed Motorsports car has won the reunion final, but Green’s first as the driver. Sean Bellemeur, who cut his racing teeth at the Reunion, has moved to the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series for 2007. Green roared down the track in 6.408 seconds at a speed of 190.65 mph.
Dennis LaCharite of Torrance, Calif., drove his ’69 Pontiac GTO to victory over Mike Savage of Tucson, Ariz., 6.386, 230.72 to 6.345, 227.96 in the Funny Car final.
Complete racing results are available online at: http://museum.nhra.com/apcm/APCMviewer.asp?a=21249&z=47
A complete list of all the SoffSeal Show ‘N’ Shine winners is available at: http://museum.nhra.com/apcm/APCMviewer.asp?a=21248&z=47
Honorees for this year’s Reunion were John Abbott, Don Cain, Ted Harbit, Fred Hurst, and the team of Gary Rupp and Pat Dakin. The Justice Bros. Reunion Spotlight award went to Frank Hawley. In addition to the Honorees, legendary racers including Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, “TV Tommy” Ivo and Dick LaHaie attended the event.
A special Lifetime Achievement “Wally” Award was presented to Bob and Eileen Daniels, among the earliest employees of the NHRA, who were celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary at the Reunion. Eileen accepted the surprise award on behalf of her husband, who was only able to attend the Reunion on Sunday due to illness. The Daniels were track operators, promoters and Bob was a Division Director prior to his retirement from NHRA. They gathered together a group of volunteers who help operate the Reunion. The “Wally” is named for Wally Parks, the 94-year-old founder of the NHRA and is presented to winners of NHRA National events.
Part of the impressive line-up of hot rods, customs and muscle cars on display
With sponsorship support from Holley and SoffSeal, as well as Justice Brothers, Hot Heads, DuPont and Heacock Classic Insurance, the Reunion included a wide variety of activities including NHRA nostalgia drag racing featuring famous and historic cars and drivers presented by Hot Heads, a street rod “show and shine,” presented by SoffSeal with thousands of gleaming pre-1972 hot rods, custom cars and muscle cars; a cruise night to Jeg’s High Performance shop on Thursday; a free public reception on Friday evening, Jun. 15 at the Columbus Airport Marriott; the legendary “Cacklefest” on Saturday evening when nitro-burning historic top fuel dragsters and funny cars were push started just like in the “old days;” a swap meet and Reunion Midway filled with manufacturer exhibits and demonstrations.
The 5th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by SoffSeal, was part of the museum’s Hot Rod Heritage Series which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.
Story & photos: Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum