11th Annual Dover Dragstrip Nostalgia Drags and 29th Annual Reunion
Words and photos by Ted Pappacena; Additional photos by Alan Aug
I’ve attended this event 3 out the last 4 years and I really try to differentiate my story about it. It ain’t easy. I have a small idea how Dino Lawrence does it but to continually come up with fresh ideas is really amazing. I could say it’s like going to a carnival. You get there and don’t know what to do first. Rides? Food, Games? What to do? This event really lives up to its pre-race hype. There are flyers that are continually updated for additions to the show. They are up on social media practically after the race is over talking about next year.
Dino Lawrence at the mike.
He’s the man that puts this show all together and sees that it goes as smooth as it does.
Alan Aug and I got to the track fairly early and parked close to the pits. We had to get our wristbands at the tower as we were covering the event for NDW. To get to the tower, we had to go through the rather large car show (actually called the Time Tunnel Rod & Custom Show) this also included the Dover Originals Race Car Display and the Drag Alley Nostalgia Race Car Display. I heard there were between 250 and 300 cars. We got to the tower and got our wristbands, we then went our separate ways. I honestly thought I’d get back to the car show and I sorta did but not close to how I wanted to. I was looking for a car and friend who I thought was going to be there but it turned out neither were. But it took a few trips around the pits to find out. Then I went looking for a racer friend who I was told liked to pit far away. I walked the pits twice without seeing him but the cars I did see were an extension of the car show. There was a seemingly endless amount of race car trailers and haulers. Amazing!
I usually go to the pits first and shoot the cars and whatever else I see of interest. I saw so many cars and friends and all that takes time. That time could be used shooting the cars on the track but there’s a lot of catching up to do and new friends to meet. On my way to the starting line I got sidetracked by car displays like the restored Hurri-cain Cuda funny car and right next to it was Paul Broughton’s Comanche AA/FD and just past these two was the vendor area so I did a quick trip through it then went directly to the starting line and started to shoot the cars. Actually the first thing I shot was the packed stands. Unbelievable the size of the crowd that was there is all I can say. After all, they’re there to see; Alky funny cars, the Hot Rods from Hell, Blown Gassers, the East Coast Fuelers, NETO, a Gasser Eliminator and 5 Dover Eliminators. And this is just Sunday’s show. It’s a 3 day event with teching on Friday and teching and grudge racing as well as time trials on Saturday. There’s more, trust me.
Restored Hurri-Cain Cuda F/C.
Sunday’s show got under way with a 4 car alky F/C match race that included Rocky Pirrone’s “Frantic Ford” 1970 Mustang Mach 1 and his 1970 Camaro called the “Super Camaro”, Paul Zona’s “Boston Challenger” with Blair Smith driving and Jami Russell’s beautiful and very potent “Iron Outlaw” Mustang II. Potent indeed as Jami took the win with a 6.67/203 mph blast. The Hot Rods from Hell featured the New York Earth Shaker roadster, Mike Geroni’s Fiat, the “Busting Loose” Fiat, and Rick Bernesconi’s “Instigator” Fiat. Breakage allowed Mike and Rick to square off in the final with Rick taking it with a personal best 6.41/213 blast. The east Coast Fuelers had Charlie Benson’s yellow beast, Ed Bliss’ River Rat, Bill Masciello’s injected digger, and the Mike Giovanazzo’s Patriot Missile dragster. Charlie took all the marbles with a personal best 6.43/208 mph pass.
Rick Bernasconi’s stout Instigator Fiat en route to a 6.41/213mph pass.
Charlie Benson on his way to a 6.43/208 mph win.
Blown Gassers in attendance were the Caged Heat 33 Willys, Going Broke II Willys pickup, It’s Crazy Anglia, and the Mopar Missall 52 Dodge Business Coupe. Caged heat took the win. Also in attendance was legendary gasser and Pro Mod racer Jim Oddy shaking down his new 48 Austin gasser with Fred Hahn at the wheel. Did I mention the Pro/Mods? Probably not but they were there too. There was a two car match race between both of Johnny Rocca’s Tin Indian Willys coupes (now owned by Bob Sweatland and Paul Athey) as well as 6 others that wowed the crowd. During all of this I heard the distinct blast that could only come from an engine on nitro and that’s exactly what it was. Paul Broughton had a crowd around the Comanche as he cackled it in the display area. Since it was a perfectly sunny day flames were hard to see but it was awesome nonetheless.
Caged Heat 33 Willys took the AA/GS portion of the show.
Fred Hahn getting the bugs out of Jim Oddy’s new 48 Austin gasser.
On and on the cars went down the track till only the winners were left. However that went on into the evening and we had to get home. There are several nostalgia drag races on the east coast each year and this one is a must attend event. Kudos must go to Dino Lawrence and the staff of Lebanon Valley Dragway for a job well done. See you all next year!
New York Earth Shaker and Instigator Fiat back from their burnouts.
Tiny Terror Fiat was and it’s a 10 sec sedan delivery to boot!
Rick Tartaglia got the wheelie of the day honors.
Joe Morrison lays down one of two fog banks in the Frantic Ford 70 Mach 1 Mustang.
Butterflies wide open and slicks wrinkling and Rocky Pirrone’s on his way in the potent Super Camaro.
Running 2 N/FCs ain’t easy but Rocky Pirrone makes it look like it is.
Pulley is spinnin’ so you know it’s cacklin’.
Is there a “Frantic” gasser in the works? Big Al Liebman discusses the possibilities with Gasser guru Jim Oddy.
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