Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 2, Page

Next Winter, Support Your
Indoor Car Show (Or Else!)


f this column comes off as a monthly listing of things I miss about the Good Old Daze and the Golden Age, it’s just that the present has failed to live up to expectations. Let’s be honest here. When’s the last time you heard someone over 40 exclaim, “Golly, gee — drag racing sure is more fun these days!”

Not everything is less fun in the 21st century. One automotive activity that never fails to surprise and amaze me is the indoor car show. I’ve been going nearly every winter since Don Baker and I still had to rely on rides from our reluctant parents. It’s been more than four decades since we preteens stood in line, awestruck, waiting our turn for Ed Roth to magically transform our plain-white Crespi Celts sweatshirts into airbrushed original artwork. (Mine, Roth titled “The Beatle Rides Again!”, his intentional misspelling inspired by the four Brits who had just invaded America.)

Both of the starring American Graffiti cars appeared, along with cast members (front to back) Paul LeMat, Cindy Williams, Bo Hopkins and Candy Clark. A steady crowd proved that even after all these (33!) years -- and in spite of some hair loss for "Milner" -- George Lucas's breakthrough film continues to resonate with folks of all ages. All four stars went out of their way to answer obscure questions and accommodate autograph seekers. (HotRodNostalgia.com Photos By Dave Wallace, ©2006)

You’d think that such an experience at such an impressionable age would be impossible to duplicate, but I still feel the thrill every offseason. Though winter is blessedly short out here in The Land Of Fruits And Nuts, I get to see drag-racing people I used to encounter at places like Pomona and Sonoma, before we were driven off by a deadly combination of reserved seating, segregated parking, roped-off pit areas, private suites, fenced-off timing towers,and photographers’ areas that no longer welcome relics like me from the print era. I wonder whether anyone on NHRA’s television-fixated media team would even recognize the names of Terry Cook, former Drag News and Drag World reporter, then editor of Car Craft and Hot Rod; or Eric Rickman, pioneer Hot Rod photographer and original Drag Safari member; or Kenny Youngblood, who virtually created an entire art form; or even master-PR-man Michael Dobrin (who, ironically, was NHRA’s one-man publicity department in the mid-Sixties).

Last month, I was able to visit with all of these ink-stained legends on a drizzly Saturday afternoon, thanks to the indoor car show and hall-of-fame ceremony that Rick Perry annually presents in South San Francisco. Prior to 2001, Rick’s RP Productions company merely promoted the Grand National Oakland Roadster Show for other owners. When that oft-sold event went south (both literally and figuratively, according to just about anyone in northern California), Perry started his own.

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