The Mon­goo$e Jour­nals

Drag Racer - - Contents - BY TOM “THE MON­GOO$E” McEWEN

HELLO, MY FRIENDS, THANKS FOR JOIN­ING ME AGAIN. I read some­where that once the main­te­nance crew gets fin­ished paint­ing San Fran­cisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, it’s time to start the process all over again. It’s a never-end­ing job that re­minds me of my good friends Blake and John Bowser, who op­er­ate the fa­bled Famoso Race­way, home for more than 60 years to the his­toric March Meet.

I got a chance to sit down with them just as they’d wrapped up the 60th an­niver­sary of the March Meet. Even though Mother Na­ture flipped them off with less than ideal weather, the Bowsers and crew put on one very ex­cit­ing drag race. Al­though they’ve just barely caught their breath, they’re al­ready mak­ing prepa­ra­tions for the 2019 edi­tion of the big­gest in­de­pen­dent race in the coun­try, which, please keep in mind, will cel­e­brate the 50th an­niver­sary of Funny Cars com­pet­ing at the March Meet.

As far as fan com­fort goes, grand­stands will be com­pletely con­verted to alu­minum seat­ing. Each sec­tion of the grand­stands will fea­ture ramps and seat­ing for dis­abled folks.

Their ma­jor fo­cus is to keep nitro rac­ing alive and healthy. Famoso (and the March Meet) has his­tor­i­cally been, first and fore­most, about nitro rac­ing. In the early-’60s dur­ing the nitro ban, Famoso went out­law, pro­mot­ing nitro com­pe­ti­tion. Blake wants to keep that im­por­tant tra­di­tion strong. To that end, he’s work­ing with the racers to grow the 5.90 Funny Car Pro­gram, which cre­ates a home for nos­tal­gia F/C guys who want to com­pete with­out mort­gag­ing the farm to do so. Their nos­tal­gia rear-mo­tor T/F and AA/ FA pro­grams are based on the same premise: burn­ing nitro on a bud­get. The rear-mo­tor guys were run­ning 5.50s at the race, which is plenty quick enough to hold your at­ten­tion.

You can count on the Bowsers to keep grow­ing Famoso and the March Meet. Pre-event ticket sales start Oct. 1. Visit Famoso­race­way.com, for more info.

Speak­ing of ex­cit­ing nos­tal­gia race events, the NHRA Mo­tor­sports Mu­seum’s Hol­ley Na­tional Hot Rod Re­union pre­sented by AAA In­sur­ance is com­ing up June 14-18, once again at Beech Bend Race­way Park, Bowl­ing Green, Ken­tucky. This event gives the folks east of the Rock­ies the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence some good old-fash­ioned drag rac­ing and au­to­mo­tive fun. This year’s event will fea­ture Nos­tal­gia T/F and F/C rac­ing for NHRA Her­itage Series points. You’ll also en­joy three gasser cat­e­gories and Nos­tal­gia

Pro Stock. A new fea­ture will be Thurs­day night’s street-le­gal drags. Visit Nhra­mu­seum.net for all of the Re­union news.

I talked with Steve Gibbs re­cently, and he brought me up to date on the up­com­ing Nitro Re­vival at La­guna Seca, May 18-20.

The big news is that “Big Daddy” Don Gar­l­its will be at­tend­ing, along with Ed “The Ace” Mc­Cul­loch and a bunch of other drag-rac­ing stars from past decades. As of early April, there are al­ready more than 40 fa­mous nitro cack­lers sched­uled to ap­pear.

There’s still more nos­tal­gia news. Last is­sue I told you about NHRA’s Le­gends Tour. Well, I’m happy to re­port that I’ll be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the up­com­ing na­tional events in Norwalk, Ohio, June 21-24 and Brain­erd, Min­nesota, Aug. 16-19. I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing you there.

On a per­sonal note, I’d like to wish Bud Ras­ner, my first part­ner in rac­ing (the Ras­ner & McEwen Fiat coupe), a very happy birth­day!

It’s be­come a sad ad­di­tion to “The Mon­goo$e Jour­nals,” clos­ing with mem­o­ries of pass­ing racers. Two close friends, Dale Emery and Steve Plueger, have de­parted.

Steve was an ex­cel­lent chas­sis builder and in­no­va­tive race car owner/ tuner. The last sev­eral cars I raced, in­clud­ing the ’57 Chevy F/C, had chas­sis built by Steve. He had a stable of big-name cus­tomers, in­clud­ing John Force. In ad­di­tion to his late-model stuff, Steve was a heavy-hit­ter in nos­tal­gia F/C com­pe­ti­tion.

And Dale, he kicked my ass as a driver and tuner. But I did have the op­por­tu­nity to get a seat-of-the-pants feel for his tal­ents. In 1987 Win­ston hosted its in­au­gu­ral Driver’s Shoot Out for drag rac­ing. For that event I drove Ray­mond Bea­dle’s Dal­las­based Blue Max Pon­tiac (chris­tened for that race as The Blue Goose). We hauled ass that day, made it to the fi­nals and damn near won the race. Ray­mond was mighty for­tu­nate to have him as crew chief for all those years. Dale brought Ray­mond a ton of wins.

We also lost Roy Fjas­tad, owner of SPE Chas­sis. He turned out some of the strong­est front-mo­tor drag­sters of the ’60s.

They will all be dearly missed.

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