SCENE AT THE 2018 HOT ROD DIRT DRAGS
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.
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.