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Nostalgia Race Cars run at SIR during the 50th Old Tucson Dragway Hot Rod Reunion

Tucson, Arizona (May 5, 2012) – Arizona drag racing history could be seen and heard Saturday during the 50th Old Tucson Dragway Hot Rod Reunion.  Although Old Tucson Dragway’s currently is nothing more than an over grown strip of asphalt in the desert, drag racers from Arizona past gathered at Southwest International Raceway.  Not only did the racers show, but they brought history with them by way of their drag race cars and dragsters.

It’s not every day that you can see such an amazing collection of Arizona’s drag racing history in one location.  Just some of the people and cars that made it out to Saturday’s reunion were Ray Ferry and the Power King top fuel dragster.  Hand built by Ray Ferry and John Patrick, these two long time drag racer’s have history that dates back to the 1950’s.

Paula Roth brought out her 8 second “Lil Darlin” Nostalgia dragster for some arm dropping started passes down the strip.  You can read more about Paula and her dragster in Maggie’s Corner.

Kenny Bernstein’s Budweiser King Funny Car was on display in the pits. The car was run from 1979 to 1982 when it was retired.  Wayne and Carolyn Galligan purchased the car in 2004.  The car then underwent a three year restoration.  It looks amazing in its current state.

The Stone, Woods & Cook nitro burning Funny Car made several passes down the track in front of the fans.  The car brought a lot of history toTucsonas it brought three generations of world records and wins with it.  Mike Cook Jr. is the driver of this family crewed recreation of his grand father’s, Doug “Cookie” Cook’s Dark Horse 2 Mustang Funny Car.  Mike, along with many members of the Cook family are in the 200 MPH Club and hold world records on the lake beds.

California’s Rocky Phillips came out to the track with his Evil Twin dragster.  This twin engine dragster hit the track to make some smoke and noise for the fans.  Unfortunately, the clutch also got smoked on a pass.  Rocky puts a lot of effort into the Eagle Field nostalgia drag race program inFirebaugh,CA.

A recreation of the first Steinneger & Eshenbaugh dragster that ran in 1961 & 1962 appeared at the track.  Paul Henderson hand crafted this beautiful dragster.  Its cockpit is wrapped in history.  The wrap consists of old photos and newspaper clippings from days gone by.  The recreation made its debut in 2009 at the California Hot Rod Reunion.

Another piece of drag racing history that made it out to the track was the Anaconda Top Fuel Dragster.  Bob Hirsch restored the Anaconda to its original state in 2006.  In the past, the car has been described as “one of the most beautiful dragsters ever made.”  We agree!  It look and sounded amazing going down the track.

Owen Gibson brought out one of the first British funny cars, Megalomania, a 1963 MGB powered by an all American Chevrolet 396 ci monster.  Megalomania found its way fromEnglandtoTucsonand ended up in a scrap yard.  Acting on a tip, Owen Gibson found it and restored it to its original configuration.

Built in the 1950’s by race driver Frank Townsend, the Typhoon is another awesome Owen Gibson resurrection that made it out to the reunion.  Owen found this one in a pasture and completed its restoration in 2006 in time for the Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca.

The Seevers, Wiesner and Owens A-Gas Super­charged ’33 Willys made a number of passes down the track for the fans.  This Gasser was a national record holder in 1964 before being retired in 1966.  It was restored in 2003.  In 2009, it and 50 other nostalgia race cars were honored at the NHRA 50th anniversary celebration inPomona,CA.

The Green Monster #5 made it onto the track.  Powered by a 1710 cubic inch, V-12, supercharged Allison aircraft engine, this piece of mean green history looked awesome on the track.  With its 2,000 horsepower, the Green Monster needed dual slicks to hold the power on the track.  It ran in the first five NHRA Nationals in the 50’s and was the first member of the 150 MPH Club.  In 1959,Tucsonresident Charlie Hall bought the Green Monster.  After racing it for a short time, Charlie put the car into storage.  In 2009, Jon and Peggy Rowley bought the car and restored it.

The Olde Timer Top Fuel Dragster hit the track too.  Built in 1965, this car spent much of its early life on the show circuit.  In 2003, Jim Frye and Bruce Gonzales found the car in the swap meet at the March Meet.  With the help of a lot of friends, Jim and Bruce restored the car, powering it with a nitro burning, supercharged Hemi.  The car debuted at the California Hot Rod Reunion in 2004.

The 1950’s era nitro burning Fisher & Greth Speed Sport Roadster looked beautiful.  Speed Sport campaigned around the country, putting many of its competitors on the trailer.  It was one of Drag News Top Ten Fuel cars for several years.  Red Greth was behind the wheel when the Speed Sport roadster was paired with against the Green Monster Saturday.

Steinegger & Eshenbaugh, one of the longest running pairs of Arizona drag racers had their dragster (feature photo) out for the event.  Al Eshenbaugh won his class and was runner up at the 1958 NHRA Nationals.  Shortly after that win, Al partnered with Larry Steinegger, a partnership that lasted for over 50 years until Larry’s unfortunate passing.  Larry & Al’s last project was a Bonneville Salt Flat nitro burning roadster.  Al Eshenbaugh set two world records with the S&E Roadster in 2009.  The roadster has gone more than 250 MPH with 71 year old Al Eshenbaugh behind the wheel. 

The Retro Rockets, a pair of Top Fuel Dragsters paired for a pass down the track.  The paint schemes on these two cars looks great. 

With these unique cars on the track, there were plenty of people lining the fence and in the stands.  All taking in the sights, sounds and smells ofArizonadrag racing’s days gone by.  We met a lot of people and made some new friends.

Speedworld Dragstrip’s Hal Sanguinetti was one of theReunion’s announcers.  Hal did a fantastic job of providing the history of these nostalgia race cars to the fans.

Arizona Auto Scene would like to thank Walter Nash and Paula Roth for inviting us out to this one of a kind event.

There was so much to take in during this event, we’re sure we missed some of it.  Feel free to comment with anything we may have missed.

Scroll down to check out some of the sights from Saturday’s Old Tucson Dragway Hot Rod Reunion.

Click here to purchase high resolution photos from this event.

Click here to purchase high resolution photos from this event.

Thanks for checkinig out Arizona Auto Scene’s coverage of the 50th Old Tucson Dragway Hot Rod Reunion.


  1. Keith Teater says:

    When did top fuel dragsters brake the 7 second barrier?

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