The rustic Santa Margarita Ranch, in Santa Margarita, California, played host to the very first RPM Nationals flathead drag races this past October. The creators of the event, Justin Baas, Mason Dyer, and Russ Hare, wanted to bring the experience of post-wwii-era drag racing to a new generation. The ranch, with its own airstrip, was a perfect setting, surrounded by grass fields, coastal mountains, and a few cows. The event was open to traditional flathead fourcylinder (four-banger) or V8 flathead-powered hot rods, customs, belly tankers, and dragsters, as long as they ran an un-narrowed rear axle.
The RPM Nationals was not just a drag race. There was also an early Ford parts and speed parts swap meet and a large car show along the spectator side of the strip.
The drag racing at the RPM Nationals was separated into four classes: Street V8, Street Four-banger, Race V8, and Race Fourbanger. For a car to qualify in one of the Race classes it had to run a power adder, such as a supercharger or nitro. The racing was very exciting throughout the day, with more than 50 cars running against each other in a grudge-style format. After the grudge races, eliminations were held in each class, and by the end of the day a winner was crowned in each class.
For a first-time event there was excellent spectator turnout. That and the car count for the racing and car show took some of the staff by surprise. With the success of the drags, the creators of the event and the owners of the ranch are already starting to plan for next year’s RPM Nationals. —KLEET NORRIS
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