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Hot Rod Reunion at Bowling Green 

SLIDESHOW ::: You like air time? Check this one, as the King & Marshall dragster makes the exhibition pass to end all exhibition passes. Now that’s giving the fans what they want! Photos by Thomas Nagy

he heritage of drag racing came from a time long before multi-million dollar raceplants and nattily attired teams. Most places back then were dirt pits with a single paved return road, a wooden tower, and hand-written time slips. Still, it was all in a day’s work for those racers. Beech Bend Raceway near Bowling Green, Ky., is still like a track from the old days, yet is modern enough to host NHRA’s annual vintage foray into the east. Last year, the annual NHRA Hot Rod Reunion, promoted under the supervision of the NHRA Museum, had moved back to National Trail Raceway in Columbus as the event outgrew the Kentucky site. Nonetheless, between the city, the track and the sanctioning body, changes were made (including some new pit access roads) that brought it back to the Bluegrass State; with a new five-year contract, it’s here to stay for a while, too.  

You may have been following the folly of the nitro situation this year. There were not a lot of nostalgia fuelers here on June 13-15, but that wasn’t because of the fuel shortage. Rather, this event was the third weekend in a row featuring front-engined nitro cars (with a fourth event scheduled the following weekend, June 21-22, at Cordova, Ill.). Trashed parts and people (including the Midwest’s quickest and fastest AA/FD owned and tuned by Roger Lechtenburg) who needed to get back to their real jobs kept the fuel dragster contingent to a minimum; seven cars were left when Friday’s session ended, six when Saturday closed down, and five made the first round call on Sunday morning when now Indiana resident and veteran fuel car driver Howard Haight could not make the call.

Brad Thompson was the top guy in his early-Hemi Donovan (which seems to be the engine of choice for the AA/FD racers) derived ride with a run of 5.74, and Thompson was also the last man standing on Sunday after three rounds, beating second-gen racer Californian Adam Sorokin, 5.890 / 251.53 to a losing 7.063 / 142.82 for the crown and the bragging rights as the first AA/FD to win both the Bakersfield and Bowling Green Hot Rod Reunion events in the same year.

Doug Duek's '64 Hemi wagon.