SCENE AT THE 2018 CRUISIN’ GRAND NITRO NIGHT

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Roddin’ Scene -

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.”

• WORDS & PICS: MARC GEWERTZ

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