SCENE AT THE 2018 CRUISIN’ GRAND NITRO NIGHT
Once a year the streets of downtown Escondido, California, come alive with fire-breathing machines from the golden era of drag racing. Located just 20 miles from the old Carlsbad dragstrip, Grand Avenue is home to Cruisin’ Grand, a cruise held every Friday night from April through September. But September 28 wasn’t just another cruise night. It was Nitro Night. It’s not every day that you can go to a cruise night and see vintage dragsters pushstarted down a city street. In fact, Escondido is the only city on the planet where you can see that.
While hundreds of hot rods were parked on the city streets, nearly 20 front-engine dragsters and fuel altereds with names like the Chizler, the Mastercar, Poison Ivy, and the Iron Horse stole the show. Drag racing legends “TV Tommy” Ivo, Carl Olson, Mike Kuhl, Tommy Allen, and others reminisced with fans about the good ol’ days as nearly 25,000 spectators crammed the streets to get a peek at these nitro-guzzling machines.
Once the sun went down, the real show started. The vintage diggers were push-started down Grand Avenue, just like they did at the drags back in the 1960s. As the dragsters came to life, flames shot from the pipes, drivers whacked the throttle—probably shattering a few eardrums along the way— and the smell of nitromethane permeated the air.
Nitro Night is a one-of-akind experience, and it brings a whole new meaning to “cruisin’ the main drag.”