Nowhere else on the planet has there ever been an event with such an impactful perception, as the gathering of nostalgia funny cars that occurred at Keystone Raceway Park on July 15th. The event celebrated the 10th Annual Funny Car Nationals, sponsored by Good Vibrations Motorsports and the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit.
A conceptual idea that began to be tossed around at the 9th Annual Funny Car Nationals in Salem, OH last year. Dennis Salzwimmer wanted to entertain the biggest and the best nostalgia funny car race known to mankind. His notion was to assemble a thirty-two car field that would thrill spectators and provide a sensory overload, one-of-a-kind experience for the drag racing fans.
Together, Dennis with the help of Jerry Streb and Good Vibrations Motorsports owner, Jim Maher laid down the groundwork that would lead to the largest assembly of nostalgia funny cars at one location on the North American continent.
Denny Salzwimmer of the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit and Jim Maher of Good Vibrations Motorsports
take time out for a paparazzi shot. - Greg Miller, Keystone Raceway Park owner
Over the winter and throughout the early spring, a lot of interest was shown by Greg Miller, the President of Keystone Raceway Park, in hosting the event at his track. The calls were made, conversations and meetings were held and the plans were formulated. The dream of a "forest of fiberglass" would soon begin to come to fruition.
As the gates opened on Saturday morning, the funny cars began to pour through. The idea of such a show was beginning to become a reality. One after the other, vehicles began to fill the pits. Trailers, stackers, motor coaches, pushers, dually's with open trailers found their parking spaces. With the exception of two teams that unfortunately had to bow out at the last moment due to some family and business matters, the field was set with thirty one cars, including one late arrival that has some transportation issues. As Kevin Costner said, "Build it and they will come." Still unthinkable!
From coast to coast, there was a great representation: East Coast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest to the West Coast. Every major automotive brand had its time in the spotlight at this event. Everywhere you looked, you could spot a Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Plymouth or the Pontiac brands throughout the funny car pits.
The event kicked off right on time with the first pair of East vs West teams paired up Chicago-style, firing the candles at 7pm. Fifteen side by side, fast, straight passes were made to the thrill of the spectators in the grandstands cheering and applauding. The second round came quickly and too much surprise of everyone, it went off uneventfully without one oil down or any kind of race delay. Incredible you say? You should have experienced it!
The Good Vibrations Motorsports Reaction Time Award goes to the team of "Happy Hour":
Amy Boss-Bowen, Harvey Williams, Tony Trimp, Randy Mount and Martha Anderson.
As it came time for the grand finally, the injected cars took their hits first. Frank Barnard and his 1977 Plymouth "Poison Arrow" drew Willie Johnson and his "No Money, No Funny" 1969 Chevy Nova making it a MOPAR and Bow Tie Injected Final. As luck would have it, Frank broke a starter on the line and ended up having to give the pass and the win to Willie Johnson and team.
In the Winner's Circle, the Good Vibrations Motorsports Nostalgia Funny Car Nationals Injected Class Champion:
(L-R) Denny Salzwimmer, Willie Johnson, Emily Czarnatowicz, Lorraine Czarnatowicz, Jim Czarnatowicz and Tom Petrik.
Runner-Up in the Injected Class at the Good Vibrations Motorsports Nostalgia Funny Car Nationals was the team of the "Poison Arrow":
Frank Barnard, Sr., Debbie Barnard, Denny Salzwimmer, Frank Barnard, Jr., and Melissa Vaccariello.
The last event of the evening was the supercharged cars. As they rolled into the waterbox, Chris Massarella and the blown "Total Insanity" big block '77 Chevy Monza prepared to go up against Steve Timoszyk's "Parts Peddler" '71 Plymouth Cuda powered by a TFX Hemi.
During the Qualifying Sessions, Massarella's Monza ran a 6.99 and a 7.00 flat elapsed time. Timoszyk's Cuda filled the beams with a two consecutive 7.10 second passes. When the cars staged for the final run of the evening, fans drew a deep breath and watched the lights on the Christmas Tree drop. Chris stood on the loud pedal of the Monza and pulled off an outstanding hole shot on Steve and his Cuda. But the race wasn't over yet. Both cars were on a solid run, with Steve starting to reel Chris in before he ran out of real estate. Thrilling pass by both cars and the crowd showed their appreciation with numerous shouts, whistles and applause. When all was said and done, the chutes had popped and with the win light on, Chris Massarella had captured the Good Vibrations Motorsports Nostalgia Funny Car Nationals Trophy and a trip to the Winner's Circle.
Accepting the award for the Good Vibrations Motorsports Nostalgia Funny Car Supercharged Class Championship:
Cat Rainone, JakeSlater, Krista Massarella, Chris Massarella and Denny Salzwimmer making the presentation.
The Runner-Up in the Supercharged Class for the Good Vibrations Motorsports Nostalgia Funny Car Nationals was Steve Timoszyk with Denny Salzwimmer awarding the plaque.
What turned out to be a great day of historical nostalgia drag racing was only topped off by an unprecedented fireworks extravaganza hosted by Greg Miller and Keystone Raceway Park. A truly amazing event that will surely be talked about for years to come, written about by many and tried to be upstaged by someone around the country. But remember, this race was the first of its kind in this millennium, only some can say that they were there, while others can only dream that they were.
My final suggestion would be to you, the reader. Start making your plans for the 11th Annual Funny Car Nationals now. And if you need a hotel recommendation, drop me a line.
As a photojournalist for Nostalgia Drag World magazine, I would like to take the time to thank Rob Huckstadt for this amazing opportunity to cover this, once in a lifetime event. As a dad, I would like to congratulate my youngest daughter, Shelby on her recent graduation from Kennesaw State University and thank all three of my daughters for their inspiration. Without them, none of this would be possible.