Hot Rod Reunion!!!!!
October 2001

by Ruthi

We headed for LA after the Vegas run! We left the truck and trailer in LA with the team(no sense dragging it back to NM since the next 3 races are in Bakersfield). We had the wonderful opportunity to introduce Shane and Tamara, from our new home town, to a close up of drag racing, dog racing, Vegas and Los Angeles. Tamara has never been outside of New Mexico till now. It was their opportunity to see what the rest of the world suffers through. Imagine Tamara's response to Las Vegas, Phoenix Gray Hound Park and the Pacific Ocean. Tamara finally got the feel of Vegas when we stopped at State Line and she won $200 in nickles. So here we are the four of us, on our way home from the Pacific Ocean, toolin along in our trusty van. . . . our die hard van, the no service keep on going Dodge Van. Yeah right! Trusty up until about 15 miles outside of Goodyear, Arizona when the old heap decides to act like its running out of gas. So with a little coaxing, love and patience we limp it on in to Goodyear and a motel. Were done! Next morning Frank calls an old friend and drag racer, Dave Beck, who came to our rescue. Dave and the guys at Sundance Auto, in Pheonix, really shined for us when the computer(or so we thought) crapped out on the van. Ya know, Dave found the old Warren, Coburn and Miller car. He's in the process of restoring this one and boy the memories and stories were flying when Frank found out. Well! back to the computer on the van! It was reprogrammed, twisted, turned, coded, drilled and still it just quit(only after driving it an hour away from the nearest tow truck). At this point Dave threw us the keys to his BURB and told us to stop back by on our way to CHRR. The BURB is his tow vehicle for Bakersfield, what trust! A week later it turned out to be the fuel pump that would work in spurts. What a pain that was.

I digress but, ya know right after the Pomona race it seemed like the right time to take the car to New Mexico since that's where we live now. New motor in the Dually and all so let's put her to the test, break her in the right way. Doing fine! Until about 30 miles outside of Glenwood, New Mexico 2nd to the last turn on a 61/2% upgrade with only 2 lanes and no shoulder (ping...smash) now were running on 7 cylinders. It decides to break a valve spring "A brand new Genuine GM Part". That Diva! STRANDED! So Frank jumps on the Honda scooter and off he goes "sounds of trumpets in my head" as my galant knight putts full speed up the hill, armed with a 1/2 gal of gas, water, hat and house keys. I call to him "but the scooter is full of gas, why the Gas?" I heard him explain as he road out of site; "if this damn thing quits I'll burn in and get a ride on the Fire Truck! Be still my heart! So 4 hours later, Frank returns in our Ford Exploader with breakfast! Ah, my favorite: cold eggs, toast and something else? Our dog Prospero liked it! It wasn't until 2 days later when I could hardly stand more than five minutes on the scooter with that annoying and numbing vibration that I realized what a sacrafice Frank had made when he charged forth that day with no thought of self. He had commented, for days, about his hands, feet and butt being numb. . . .Well Da!

Friday afternoon and we roll into Bakersfield about 3pm and we are too late to get a spot so we get stuck in the staging lanes. It's actually not too bad. . .we're always in line. So we got set up and then all the crew was there and it was a nice little get together. The Muffler Man
(Larry Taylor from Spokane Washington)
suddenly appeared with a real surprise. He came bearing Frank's original press package that announced his 1967 tour. Rumor has it that this was one of, if not the, first press package ever for Drag Racing. It also represented the first national sponsorship and opened the door for what we see today.

Clyde Dedrick stopped by the pits and
(in the upper left photo Walt Stevens, Frank and Clyde)
the three of them had to survey each other for a bit before they actually committed themselves to an introduction. They hadn't seen each other in 39 years that means since highschool. They look a little different now! One would hope!
Walt Stevens, Frank, Neil Lefler and Bill Alexander.
The bottom left photo!
There he is! Frank standing arm in arm with the 3 guys that he used to shower with oil, blown parts and fire balls! huh! and they still talk to him! Hard love I guess . . . .I don't know! The others had not seen Neil Lefler in years and he looked a whole lot different than the old pictures.
(Photo to the right is Neil, Frank, Bob Downey, and Walt back in 1964)
Bill stood talking to Neil for the longest time and then finally asked who it was and just shreaked when he realized. It was quite amuzing for me. This is the stuff that endears me to these nostalgia racers.
Saturday and it's first qualifying run. Bent a bunch of push rods and blew a head gasket right out the back of the block. Remember what I said about the Diva giving us a break. I spoke too soon.
Couldn't get her back together to be the 1st pair out during 2nd round of qualifications and the run wouldn't count if we were the last pair out, so put a fork in us, we're done!

Scenes from CHRR 2001 Cacklefest!

Wow! It's Sunday, get up early. Today is my big day. Drink lot's of water, try not to be nervous! Drink more water! Do a little vocal warm up, drink more water, then off to the track. Once at the track I check in with the tower and do a sound check! Drink water! Get together with Dave McClellan and go over introductions and then it came. The announcement that our troops had invaded Afghanistan and in 10 minutes I will be singing our National Anthem. Suddenly singing the National Anthem was not only the greatest honor it was the absolute best timing to sing in my entire patiotic life. As a SSG in the US Army reserve I thought my heart would explode right out of my chest. All of my preparation paid off when the most difficult notes were dead on pitch, when I thought it couldn't get any better, as I begin the final verse I hear a rummble coming up behind me from the finish line. I look up to see 2 WWII fighter planes flying straight over my head, about 50ft off the deck, as they swoop over the starting line, they then cross each other just beyond the flag, leaving 2 trails of smoke. As their thunder begins to fade the last word of the Anthem "Brave" comes slicing through the smoke and as the note ended the crowd went crazy! I thought I was going to pass out, but I had something else I needed to do. Remember all the water. . . ! This was truly a once in a lifetime moment that couldn't have come out more perfect if it had been planned and I will never forget it.
More Drag Racing Family and Friends!

Done! Gotta Go!
See you in Bakersfield in November
(don't forget your jackets)
"vrooom vrooomm"

(Photo by Mike Boersma)
THAT'S ALL FOR NOW....Thanks for visiting!