by Eddie Buck
“Why the hell would anyone one to sit and watch a bunch of old dragsters? Kinda lame.”
I wonder how many people have said that, typed that, or thought that over the course of the last couple decades. I've always loved to hear or smell anything nitro. It's a sensory drug, enjoyed by masses. They stand, encircling the subject, the whiz of a starter motor and smooth tones of a cast iron beast. Fingers in ears, a smile, words spoke that no one hears beyond an inch away. Suddenly...... the cacophony of eight continuously repeating explosions, in the bowels of the beast, as the drug is introduced. You see everyone grin, mouth an, “oh yeeeeah”, some with tears streaming down cheeks.
My favorite part.... here it comes...
Some poor fool walking by jumps sideways, startled by the sudden supplementation of what equates to a few hundred bomb blasts in a couple seconds. The look terror, through watery eyes is priceless. At that point, in the crowded pits of Famoso Raceway... the invisible goddess of nitro has you under her spell. As I was told, “That bitch aint ever lettin you go.”
Yep. He was right.
From the moment the starter is lifted onto the mount and the sound of the dog engaging, you aint leaving. Like a junkie, you will stand in the hot sun, sucking in fumes...smiling.
My first cackle was in the seat of one of Dave and Sally Bany's Jungle Novas. Namely, the Clare Sanders 69 Winternats winner. It was at Atco, in June on a Friday afternoon around 3:30.... sorta like the first time you kissed a girl. You can remember every second....in detail.
I believe the general herd, in the race fan world, are cackle fans. Even if they won't admit it. I'd always heard about the Cacklefest at CHRR. Saw it on Bangshift a couple times, but never really could appreciate it until the first time I saw it, up close, in living color and ensuing deafness. In fact, the first time I went to Bakersfield, I missed it because I was sick. The second year was my baptism in fire.
The best place to be, is at the fence, at the point the push car/truck reaches speed and the mag switch is flipped. For the first couple, you hear tires on the pavement, maybe the muffled sound of the pusher's engine and the the bomb ignites. Noise, dust and fuel permeate every pore. Heaven, Pleasure, Intensity..... gotta be there. If you have an ounce of love for the history, of the art of nitro, you will be a convert. It's not racing, it's more. Spectacle, which packs every inch of spectator space, sitting or standing. Any promoter, track owner, etc. would be envious of the crowd that amasses for the few hours on that October Saturday night. Suffice it to say, there is NOTHING like it at any track or other event. You can see men in their late 70's and early 80's with the vigor they had some 60 years early. It's a holy ground in OUR world, on which the greats have walked. The reading of those who passed in the previous year is sobering. And when the the last drop of nitro has coursed through the last one running... it's almost like the spirit of everyone who has passed to the other side is floating in the cloud that hovers over the track. They linger, embodied in every happy being on the property, at least for a while.
I'm not going into a detailed history of the festival of cackle, I'd probably get it wrong. Since this is my gig, I'll brag on a few friends who are doing it. I asked a few to send me a bio, so I could grab a bit or two and try to paint their picture. In no certain pecking order, so to speak, I'll tell you about some friends. I belong to Standard 1320, in which a large number of the guilty in the cackle movement belong. My pal Freddy Frey, bugged me until I wrote a bio to be nominated for the group. I honestly thought I had no chance. I was a funny car guy, under 50 and was a real pot stirrer on a couple other membership sites. I'm glad I listened to Fred. In the “cackle world” there's guys like John and Don Ewald, Bill Pitts, Steve Gibbs, Tommy “ The Watchdog” Allen and a few others who I consider the upper echelon, ambassador types. There's sites like “We Did it for Love”, “Cacklefest” and a great series of YouTubes called “Ricky's Dragster Garage”. continued on next page...
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