SCENE AT THE 2018 HOT ROD DIRT DRAGS

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Roddin’ Scene -

Mike “Nick” Ni­cholas has made him­self a hot rod­ding house­hold name over the last few years, putting on truly tra­di­tional hot rod shows in his home state of Colorado. Through events like the Hot Rod Hill Climb, Mike has brought a taste of old-time car cul­ture to the moun­tains out­side of Den­ver, re­viv­ing au­to­mo­tive hap­pen­ings that had re­mained dor­mant for decades. His sis­ter show to the HRHC, the Hot Rod Dirt Drags, is a feast for the ears as well as the eyes, and con­sis­tently brings top­notch rods and vin­tage rides of all de­nom­i­na­tions to the fer­tile low­lands of Rio Grande county for a chance at old-time, in­y­our-face dirt drag rac­ing!

Tak­ing what he learned by throw­ing the fes­tive HRHC, Mike and trusty part­ner Troy “Rooster” Hast­ings have turned a small sec­tion of the vast Colorado coun­try­side into an all-out dragstrip for one June week­end each year. Over the years, par­tic­i­pants have come from ev­ery cor­ner of the coun­try, from New Jer­sey to Cal­i­for­nia, itch­ing to take on the com­pe­ti­tion (and the track), and to get a sam­ple of Colorado’s finest dirt right in their kissers.

Not only is the HRDD a great place to see what your hot rod can do, it’s also a place to bring the whole fam­ily. This year, more ladies signed up for the event than ever be­fore, bring­ing their own trusty steeds to event. And of course HRDD is kid friendly, with plenty to see and ex­pe­ri­ence right there on the event grounds. “The Dirt Drags al­lows us a drag rac­ing flash­back to the ’40s and ’50s,” Troy says. “It’s a fam­ily ef­fort to cre­ate and race unique rides. Watch­ing my own kids and friend’s chil­dren race cars is a feel­ing that’s hard to de­scribe.”

The week­end started Fri­day with lo­cal rod­ding he­roes and 2018 Ri­dler Award win­ners Pre­ci­sion De­signs help­ing out with tech in­spec­tion. To add a lit­tle cui­sine to the evening, Johnny’s Rod Shop hosted a Fri­day night pig roast. At dusk a few se­lect cars made the first runs of the week­end, which helped fuel the fire for the races to come. Satur­day, sun-soaked spec­ta­tors cheered on 148 hot rods dirt drag­gin’ in the Monte Vista flat­lands. Even mid­day rains and some mud pud­dles couldn’t stop the ac­tion on Sun­day!

The Movie Manor Ho­tel in Monte Vista has hosted the event since the start in 2015, and the venue has never dis­ap­pointed. Am­ple space is pro­vided for trail­ers, campers, and rigs of all sorts, and

the ho­tel fea­tures an ad­ja­cent drive-in movie theater that can be viewed from all rooms in the ho­tel. (Au­dio is pumped in each room as well.)

There’s also a top­notch car show “On the Green,” the great lawn at the heart of the event. Plenty of food and li­ba­tions keep the fam­ily happy. This year also saw a first: kids and their ju­nior hot rods hit the dirt. If you are look­ing for a great time, want to see killer hot rods while keep­ing the fam­ily in­tact and in­ter­ested, this might be the event for you. Check out hotrod­dirt­drags.com for more info, or hit their Face­book and In­sta­gram pages.

—SCOTTY LACHENAUER

• PICS: MIKE ROGERS

COU­PLE’S THER­APY: Three wives of HRDD par­tic­i­pants showed up this year in their own rides. Here Brooke Dolan (left) in her ’32 three-win­dow coupe takes on her hubby Daniel in his ’34 coupe. Both sport 8BA flat­ties for power, but Brooke’s got the edge with the S.CO.T. blower up top. The cou­ple hails from Fort Collins, Colorado.

OUT­LAW FOR HIRE: Mike Or­back, pro­pri­etor of the Out­law Speed Shop in Love­land, Colorado, came pre­pared this year. He brought six hot rods to run at the event, in­clud­ing a trio of Deuces. This wild fivewin­dow, in bare metal, is one nasty com­peti­tor out on the dirt. He takes on Dustin Noff­singer of Ri­fle, Colorado, in his ’34 three­win­dow. Dustin drove his car to the event, and pro­ceeded to pound on it all week­end!

EX­PRESS LINE: With more par­tic­i­pants than ever be­fore, the stag­ing lanes were busy both days. Troy’s “Rooster Rodz” crew made sure ev­ery­body got plenty of runs in and kept the lines buzzing.

TASTY T BANGER: Joe Gemsa was a sprint-car driver and mas­ter ma­chin­ist who spe­cial­ized in mak­ing four­bangers as fast as the big­ger V8s. This Gemsa over­head-cam head sits on a Model T block and runs with a Wico mag. Three Stromberg carbs give it a good dose of go-juice. This ride was wicked fast out on the dragstrip.

SPEED STAR: Out of Amado, Ari­zona, Dave Parker brought this wild ride to do its duty out on the dirt. This ’27 Model T speed­ster is built with a Model A front end and uses a ’34 Ford rearend. But the spe­cial in­gre­di­ent is the Gemsa du­alover­head-cam en­gine.

SALT CITY LICKIN’: Here’s a pair of beau­ti­ful hot rods out of Salt Lake City. Mike Elmer in the far lane gets a jump on his Throt­tlers Club buddy Woody Bair in his nasty banger­pow­ered ’30 coupe. These guys are vet­er­ans to both the HRDD and the HRHC, hav­ing at­tended al­most ev­ery year the events have been put on.

SUN­SET STRIP: Drag rac­ing after the sun goes down has be­come a pop­u­lar Fri­day night kick­off at the Dirt Drags. It doesn’t hurt that the sun­sets can look just un­real over the moun­tains sur­round­ing the San Luis Val­ley (Monte Vista means “moun­tain view” in Span­ish). Here Jeff Ni­chols of Love­land, Colorado, pi­lots his ’32 road­ster at sun­set down the dirt strip. The ride is cur­rently pow­ered by an over­head B-block banger built for the flats at Bon­neville.

LEAVE THE CRUST ON: Greg Jordi­son and his low-slung ’30 road­ster take the re­turn lane back to the start­ing line, caked with some of that fine Colorado soil. His chopped and chan­neled road­ster fea­tures a 283ci Chevy backed by a five-speed tranny. Greg made the trip out from his home­town of La­moni, Iowa.

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