Saturday August 13, 2005

Samoa Nostalgia Reunion and Saturday Shootout


SAMOA DRAGSTRIP: 50 YEARS LATER-The golden reunion only comes around once, and August 13th’s  Leon’s Car Care Center Nostalgia Reunion/Saturday Shootout served up plenty of racing surprises for those waiting out various hold ups.

      Steve Costelow brought his heavily flamed  Model A coupe down from Medford, only to have it suffer an unfortunate blow within the first passes of the day, when its rear differential blew, spitting out rear gears like teeth from a busted mouth. In many respects, it was a sign of frustrations that racers and crew were to face, though still having fun making history.

      And history was made, partly in the form of the first all-girl final round in Junior Dragsters, in which Malli Blasdell got her first taste of 1st place victory in a 9.57 run to the Eighth-mile cones against Junior veteran Kara Pettit, who ran 8.09, as Points leader Robbie Waddell took the Consolation win over Mike Pettit.

      Top Qualifier Richard Williams held the low E.T. of the day with his ’32 Austin drag roadster, first at 8.46 before Eliminations. Contesting in Quick Nostalgia and Super Pro  brackets, he later lowered the e.t. to 8.44 (albeit breaking out in the process).

      While cars soared up the ‘strip, a roundup of classic hot rods shone in the sun for show ‘n shine judged by their peers (race cars were voted on, too). Nick Wilwerding’s purple-flamed ’53 F-100 lit up the most votes for People’s Choice awards.

      It may not have been a “Wally race” – the famous Wally trophies were Sunday’s prizes – but there were Redwood Wallys given: wooden-carved trees with a racing slick underneath its branches, shown prominently beside displays of old photos and news clippings of yesteryear, before the Redwood Wallys went to new homes at the end of the day.

      One of those wooden trophies went to John Antongiovanni, when his Chevy II ousted Troy Beck’s ’69 GTO in the Pro final. Ron Gulbransen’s ’68 California Special earned him a Redwood Wally in a Quick Street win over Glen McHenry’s ’67 Camaro.  McHenry’s father, Tom, kept busy with their “Blast from the Past” ’56 Chevy 210 gasser, recently featured in Hot Rod Magazine, and a real crowd-pleaser at the 50-plus year old track.  Other fan favorites included Eddie Kucker’s turquoise ’37 Ford club coupe (named “Justin”),  Rick Lermo’s ’39 Ford Tudor, Dan Simmons’ glossy black ’55 Chevy Bel Air and a ’54 Dodge Coronet that did  the Midwest gasser circuit in the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Named “Old Blue” with a canine mascot on the doors, it’s Chrysler Hemi has kept its tour of duty going.  Also in force were a variety of early muscle cars, from Darts to Chargers, R/Ts and Comets. Pete Karki won the long-distance award, coming up from Manteca to compete with his flamed ’50 Chevy truck.

      Two drivers were able to become One With the Tree with perfection in reaction times: Adam Moore in his ’69 Camaro and Roger Ponder’s self-proclaimed “Nasty” Nova. For Ponder, from Central Point, Oregon, the race ended with a double-breakout to Dennis Ellsworth, Jr.’s advantage, narrowly missing a dead-on dial-in run.  It could have earned Ponder the yet-unachieved Perfect Package award of $1955 (in commemoration of the Humboldt-Del Norte Timing Association’s 50th Anniversary).  Mitch Marlin was awarded the day’s Best Package award ($50) in a ’66 Ranchero that Mike Marlin campaigned at the track the next day- winning Best Package as well.

      Jackie Allen’s ’04 Focus was the victor in Street over Jim Broderson’s Ford F-150, and John Widmann out-biked Kirk Speelman in the Redwood Harley Davidson Sportsman bracket. There were so many runners in Nostalgia, the bracket was split up into two: Slow and Quick.  Ana Toledo’s ’69 Mustang was quick to capture the Slow Nostalgia win over Brian Stone’s ’67 Firebird, and Doug Atkins spared no time in securing a 1st-place Redwood Wally with his ’69 Z28 over Brent Noales’ ’69 Dart in Quick Nostalgia.

      Capping off the racing was a Super Pro match up between Scott Tucker and Dennis Ellsworth, Jr., who raced for 1st place on July 10th to Tucker’s advantage. The top Redwood Wally a month later went to Ellsworth, with Richard Williams in his “Bad Attitude” roadster taking home third.




                                                                                          -- Tim O’Brien