The Mongoo$e Journals
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.