The seventh annual Meltdown Drags packed the pits and stands at the historic Byron Dragway in Byron, Illinois. Over 500 nostalgic drag cars representing 42 States battled it out in front of a crowd that broke an attendance record held at the track since 1964.
In order to compete at the event, drag cars must be 1966 or older in vintage, and “era correct” in appearance…and these racers are here to do just that…RACE! It so incredible to see these car, many of which are still untouched survivors from back in the day, battling it out, and still with an obvious desire to WIN!!
Racing action started at noon and ran through the evening hours with some great night time drags under the lights. If you needed a break from half track burnouts and wheel stands there was also a car show that hosted over 600 vehicles, a swap meet, and a fun and very tasteful pin-up contest.
Some of the racing legends on hand this year included Jack Merkel, Jr Grove, and Barb Hamilton, all of which had their original Willys coupes on hand to drool over. Mark your calendars for the 8th Meltdown, it is truly one of the coolest nostalgia racing events out there.
Sometimes in reviewing the events of one’s day requires adding a little more to the story.
Thus about a month ago out at the Kool Guys Breakfast Car Club get together not one but two world class vintage Mercury automobiles show up at breakfast time. Now it’s not every day one gets to see just one of these classics but for two of them to come rolling in. I just had to feature two cars in this Featured Rides of the Month story for October 2016.
First a 1950 Mercury Coupe, sporting a 383ci. Stroker Chevy for power / 350-3 on the floor tranny and a 9” Dutchman Ford Rear-End. ‘74 Camaro front clip with disc brakes keeps her on the highway. She fancies a Corvette Grill and sports a delicious deep purple paint with world class Mitch Kim laying down the straight as an arrow pin-stripping. Chromed out Americans enhance the stance to perfection on all four corners and the interior features Cadillac all leather bucket seats with built in heaters. The lucky owner of this award winning ’50 Merc is Bob Bresee and yes he attended the auto class at Benson Tech High back in the fifty’s. He also spent a hitch in the US Navy Submarine Service during Vietnam. He makes his home in the Clackamas area of Portland and he is an active member in good standing with the Kool Guy’s Breakfast Group at the Carver Hanger out in Carver.
Second, a 1951 Mercury Custom Coupe. She’s powered with a 355 ci Chevy producing over 5oo hp /700r tranny and 9” Ford rear-end. She features an Art Morrison Chassis and carries that candy red paint job with class. The top is chopped 4 ½” and she sports a full set of skirts on the back with w/white walls over full custom flaired chromed wheel covers, plus a set of three capped off chromed laker-plug pipes running along each perimeter. Add a custom one off front bumper, a set of baby tear drop spots plus a silky smooth shaved hood and rear deck including frenched-in tail-lights. The interior is a million dollar look complete with center console coming off from the dash, all in light banana leather stitched to perfection. This is one fine million-dollar custom deluxe world class built 1951 Mercury Coupe. This fantastic car is included in Mark Hettervig collection of customs here in the Portland, Oregon area. She wins awards when-ever and where-ever she is shown. We at R&R NW Publication would like to thank Bob and Mark for sharing both of their fantastic vintage ’50 and ’51 Mercury orphaned classic rides with our thousands of readers all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Tony and Leona Aragon have quite a story in the history of their two beautiful artistic automobile works of art.
To make the action a little more complete we are adding a delicious 1929 candy blue St Rod Bucket from Larry William’s garage in the Gresham, Oregon area.
This all for the love story begins when Tony Aragon picks up a copy of the want ads promoting cars and trucks from all over the USA. Now if I remember the story correctly Tony’s Grandpa had a 1935 Plymouth 4 dr. that he had spent some time in as a kid rolling around in the back seat, no seat belts required on vehicles back in those days. Well the story goes that low and behold Tony finds a 1935 Dodge 2 dr. sedan listed in the want-ads that, is the car of his dreams. The only problem is the car is located in the state of Florida! Now let’s see Tony and his bride live in Oregon and his dream car is over 3,000 miles away, as the Grow flies, in Florida. Now for those of you that have met Mr. Aragon in person you can testify to the fact that he is some-what of a larger person in statue. He must have kept poor Leona awake tossing and turning in his sleep for the next two weeks just dreaming about that ’35 Dodge as he wanted it so badly. Now the story goes that for Leona to get another night sleep after two weeks of Tony’s sleepless acting out, she finally made the statement,( all of us husbands needed to hear more often) If you love that car so much why don’t you go and get it! What Tony went over 3000 miles to retrieve around ten years ago has turned out to be one fine custom work of automobile artistic wonder.
This 1935 Dodge 2 dr sedan features a 350 Chevy for power, a 350 turbo tranny and a 9” Ford rear-end. The top is deliciously chopped 3 ½ inches and the House of Color Candy Tangerine covers the lower half and Viper Silver covers the chopped top and the upper hood area. They rolled the pan under up front and she sports some baby spot turn signals plus bumpers are history. To enhance the stance 17” American Racing Chrome on the back and 15” up front makes this Mopar a thing of beauty. Speaking of beauty the interior on this show machine is all done in pillow top and over stuffed fine grey and orange leather. Tony grew up in Hollister, Cal and Leona is a true Oregonian and attended Marshall High here in Portland. They have four adult children and seven grandchildren and life has been good to the Aragon Family.
The second custom vehicle sitting in the two car garage at the Aragon family home is non-other than Leona’s creation. Dedicated to the memory of her late father Robert Calhoun who was the recipient of three prestigious Army medals for Valor in the Line of Duty and two Purple Hearts for wounds he received in combat.
1928 Ford Model “A” P.U. St Rod Bucket. For power she sports a ’66 Buick Nailhead 425ci / 450 HP / Turbo 400 Buick 3 speed tranny / 8” Dutchman rear-end. Twin four barrel Elderbrock Carbs feed the power plant. She features chrome baby tear-drop head-lights and a ’32 model B Grill Shell. The stance on this one off beauty is created with 850‘s on the rear and 550’s up front with baby chrome moons coming alive over the yellow accented wheels. The candy blue metallic finish and the white on white leather interior including the white box cover make this a one off joy to behold. Larry Williams is the proud owner of this artistic Street Rod and back in the 60’s he attended Clackamas High School. He now makes his home in the Gresham area. Your 1928 Ford Street Rod is a beauty on wheels and we at R&R NW Publication would like to thank each of our participants in our All for the Love Story for October 2016.
This 1971 Chevy P.U. is all Chevy powered and features a delicious custom interior plus frenched in Cadillac tail-lights a custom one off tail-gate with Chevy logo. Rolled pan and frenched in License Plate. The box is custom covered with super graphics and the Teal Green color on this beauty is fantastic. Things really come alive when you open the hood and the salute and dedication to Leona’s father are witnessed to in the Patriotic Tribute to the Foot Solders plus The Heartbeat of America Chevy Logo in artistic Graphics. The Bumper-less front end sports a tubular grill and the Engine compartment is flawlessly detailed and chromed to perfection. The Leona girl’s dedication to her father really is truly achieved to perfection.
Trick “N Racy Cars Club is pleased to announce that it has awarded three annual scholarships to three deserving Clackamas Community College students studying in the Automotive program for the 2016-2017 school year.
The recipients are Tanner Burdick, Adrian Camacho and Garrett Watson. Each student selected had strong academic credential and interest in the school’s car repair programs as well as a strong desire to improve their lives through education.
Congratulations to these hard working students who are working to improve their lives.
I’ve been going to these Goodguys Rod & Custom Association for a lot of years now and I think this year’s show was maybe bigger, more cars, than any I’ve been to in recent years. The number and quality of cars present was pretty impressive. The Swap meet grew this year too. A few more parts, more cars for sale and more people.
I’m always impressed with the quality of cars that come from Canada. Our brothers from up north really turn out some fantastic builds and I’m glad they come to the US to share their work with us.
This year I attended the drag races on Friday night at the Pacific Raceway, formerly SIR, Seattle International Raceway. It seemed like a “run what ya brung” kinda race. There were some amazingly fast cars there, some with a turbo or two, and blowers and then there were some that had trouble getting out of their own way. But it was fun just the same. A couple pro-mod cars were just frighteningly fast but certainly fun to watch.
A few of my friends brought their cars and picked a great spot in the shade to park since it was quite warm this year. I like going to these big shows like this because of all the vendors in attendance. When the big companies come and bring their big trailers full of product it’s great. You get to speak directly to someone with a lot of knowledge and you can get an up close look at the parts. More vendors ought to put these shows on the AD budget. It may or may not produce an instant boost in sales but I’ll bet it produces sales going forward for some time. I’m living proof of that. I checked out the Flowmaster display and learned all I could about what I wanted for my truck. I didn’t buy them at the show but I did buy them some months later when I was ready, all because of the info I got at a manufacturers booth at a car show.
Put the Goodguys 30th Annual Pacific Northwest Nationals on your July 2017 calendar and look for the exact dates in Roddin’ & Racin’ NorthWest in the spring next year. More coverage next month.
There are many flavors of car enthusiasts. Some devote their loyalty to Model A pristine vintage, some like the new souped-up imports and then there are hot rodders. Some hot rodders pledge allegiance to traditions while others create their own frankenstein dream kustoms. Events like Rust O Rama put on by the Cherry City Bombers car club feature their own niche of hot rodder that should not be overlooked.
The cars and the people at the 8th annual Rust O Rama are a mix of eras and style. Some are clean and polished with a little detailing that sets them apart, others go for the extreme rusty and rough look. Each car and their driver has no shortage of personality showing, and it is interesting to walk the rows of vehicles and observe just how different people’s tastes can be.
The car club makes it a point to have ongoing entertainment throughout the day. Music, a mobile tattoo parlor, vendors of clothing and jewelry, pinstripers, a hairstylist, and the ever-entertaining pinup contest. Each year, the Bombers pick a charity to feature. This year the foundation of choice is called Magic Wheelchair who make Hollywood- grade costumes for children bound to wheelchairs. The pinup contest- like the car show itself- helps gain awareness for the cause. This year I personally dressed up and participated as one of eleven pinups. Dawning my hair sprayed curls and extreme eyeliner was well worth the $173 that we girls collectively raised for Magic Wheelchair.
As the finale to the day, two members of the car club got married right on the rockabilly stage, all while celebrating and welcoming anyone that wanted to be present. I could not ask for a more unique grouping of cars and people to be around for an afternoon. So when this event rolls around next year, come on down to Salem to support charity, get a tattoo, or simply people watch. It is never short of entertaining.
They said it couldn’t be done. When Ron Huegli, curator of the World of Speed museum in Wilsonville, Oregon suggested putting together a grid of thirty three cars in honor of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, who among us wasn’t skeptical? I know I was. If successful, it would be biggest assemblage of Champ Car machinery on the west coast since the days of Ontario Speedway. It’s a safe bet that neither Long Beach nor PIR ever drew that many entries.
Well, Huegli got ‘er done! In an exhibition they are calling “Heroes and History”; bonafide racers from nine decades adorn a facsimile of the famed Brickyard in eleven rows of three. Many of the cars have a Northwest connection; here are ten of my favorites:
The Sampson “16” Special evolved from the “more is better” school of thought. The “16” represent sixteen cylinders, literally two Miller V-8’s mounted side by side. Alden Sampson had been experimenting with this concept since 1930 and in ’34 garnered a fourth place finish. The Stevens chassis on display was qualified by Bob Swanson in 1939 & ’40 (finishing 6th), Deacon Litz in ’41 and popular Sam Hanks after the war in ’46. With sponsorship from band leader Spike Jones, Hanks qualified a remarkable third fastest but unfortunately was one of the first cars to fall out.
The Howard Keck entry on the turntable is a classic example of a car from “The Cucumber Era”. This Deidt built Offenhauser never qualified slower than seventh in four starts and only finished outside the top ten once. Jimmy Jackson drove in 1948 and ’49. In 1950 Mauri Rose qualified and finished third in this early Pennzoil livery. Sadly a collapsed spoked wheel sidelined Rose in ’51.
Mack Hellings was a close friend of car owner C. George Tuffanelli and had driven for him in previous 500’s. The maroon and gold leaf #19 Deidt chassis qualified 23rd in 1951 but retired early. When Hellings crashed to his death in another car six months later, Tuffanelli was so devastated he never ran his Indy car again.
Murrell Belanger’s cars compete at the same time as the aforementioned Deidt cars but had a leaner appearance. There was a Belanger Special in every 500 from 1947 through ’54 with legends like Tony Bettenhausen and Duane Carter handling the driving chores. Lee Wallard won Indy outright for Belanger in 1951 so this Lujie Lesovsky creation first appeared with a numeral #1 on its flanks. Carter qualified sixth and finished fourth in ’52 but it was downhill from there. Two years later, renumbered #97, Walt Faulkner failed to qualify.
This #99 Norm Demler Special is a perfect example of Quin Epperly’s “Laydown” design that was dominate in the late fifties. With Portlander George Amick at the controls followed by Paul Goldsmith, this roadster finished in the top five, three consecutive years. Jim Hurtubise qualified it in the front row for 1961 but finished 22nd. It missed the show the next two years then reappeared in 1966 with a General Electric turbine engine under the hood. Veteran Bill Cheesbourg took it out for a few fast laps but no qualifying attempt was made.
World Champion Formula One driver Jack Brabham entered this small displacement Cooper Climax in the 1961 500. The steady Aussie had a lackluster afternoon, holding his own through the turns and getting blown off on the straightaways. He started 13th and finished ninth- nothing earth shattering but Brabham is credited with starting the (modern day) rear engine revolution.
1964 was the first year Portland short track racers Rolla Vollstedt and Len Sutton entered a car in the Indianapolis 500. Built in Vollstedt’s basement, the rear-engined Offenhauser was a respectable effort put together on a shoestring budget. Capable Sutton (second in 1962) qualified eighth fastest but fell out with fuel pump woes. Canadian Billy Foster qualified the car sixth the following year but he too succumbed to mechanical failure. Oregonian Art Pollard took over the car (now renumbered #44) in 1966 and missed the show by qualifying too slowly. This car is in unrestored condition and looks exactly as it did when Pollard climbed out of it fifty years ago.
Established Indy Car builder A.J. Watson observed Vollstedt’s design at a pre-500 tire test and endeavored to build his own rear-engined cars for the 1964 500. Watson installed a four cam Ford in his #2 racer and two-time Indy winner Roger Ward was retained to drive. The effort was successful with Ward setting third fast time and placing second in the race. Watson was awarded builder of the year but ultimately turned that prize over to Vollstedt, admitting that his entry was essentially a copy.
Vollstedt’s second effort (#16) for 1965 was leaner and meaner, this time powered by a state-of-the-art four cammer. He again signed Bryant Heating as his primary sponsor and Sutton as driver. The race was not without its issues but Sutton was running at the finish and credited with twelfth. A year later Foster qualified the car in the same position but was knocked out in the first lap debacle on the front straightaway.
Andy Granatelli’s Lotus Turbine 56 (#20 as driven by Art Pollard) was probably the coolest race car a twelve year old kid could imagine. It blew my mind. The clean, simplicity of the wedge design, the four-wheel-drive, the turbine engine, the day-glo paint…whew! Lotus man Colin Chapman deserves most of the credit. This shape influenced all forms of racing and even street car design. Pollard qualified 11th with no practice and his teammates Joe Leonard and Graham Hill started in the first and second slots. The turbines failed about ten laps short of the finish but what an impact they had on the sport. This is perhaps the most historically significant race car in the exhibit.
This Kandy Brandy Wine beauty sports a 350 ci Chevy producing about 435 HP / 350 Turbo Tranny w/ ratchet shifter / 8” powder coated Currie rear-end. Delicious black leather interior including a CD/MP3 player w/4 speakers. Custom built American Racing Torq Thrust II Wheels, 15×14 rears, and 15×4 fronts. Creating a perfect stance Mickey Thompson S/R tires 29×1800 R-15 rear and 24 x 500 R-15 up front. It took Del and his son Dale Krieger several years to build this gorgeous “T” Bucket from start to finish, and it was all completed in their hideaway work shop by the two Krieger’s at their home in Boring, Oregon.
Del attended Gresham High back in the sixty’s where he met his best friend Retha and the two of them have been together ever since. They have two fantastic grown Boys and four grandchildren plus one great-grandchild. The last time I saw The “T” bucket she had just picked up an award at the Rock-Around the Block Cruise In on the Main Street of Gresham. The week before she took a best of class trophy at the Milwaukie Bowl Cruise In. This delicious ride has won awards all over the West Coast in the past few years including the prestigious Portland Roadster Show.
We at R&R NW Publication would like to thank Del and his family for sharing your world class, award winning 1923 Model “T” Bucket with our many readers through-out the Pacific Northwest as our Featured Ride of the Month for September 2016.
The side trim on the Barn Find 55 had more than its share of dents as you can see in the pictures. I Thought that the one that’s smashed and bent almost to a 90-degree bend, was just scrap metal, but I decided to show it to Ron Wagner of Ron Wagner Fabrications to see what he thought. He said he could fix it. Well, as you can see he indeed did fix it. Amazing! And it’s beautiful.
He gave me a tour and showed me his shop and equipment. Ron has been doing this type of repair for many years. He explained that he can even make you a new part, from scratch, if he has a pattern. Ron creates dies as needed to repair or build your damaged or missing trim piece for your car or truck.
If your trim is bent, dull, nearly destroyed or missing, Ron can probably help you bring your pride and joy back to life. Give him a call at 503-568-2000 or email him at