Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Classic Dragsters in Long Beach

by Tammy

On Saturday, my husband and I had a lot of fun walking a mile over to the main drag in our part of Long Beach to check out the 7th annual Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo & Car Show. See, we're four miles from the old Lions Drag Strip that hosted roaring machines between 1955 and 1972. Between the area's tradition and the car-savvy of our district's city councilwoman (Rae Gabelich, widow of Gary Gabelich, a racecar driver who held the land-speed record at one time), we've had a dragster expo in town for the past few years. Plus a whole lot of cool cars on display.

This year the featured stars were Don "the Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "the Mongoose" McEwan, and their original funny-car racers, not to mention a dozen other classic dragsters, some of which were available for fans to sit inside, and some of which participated in the "Cacklefest." That was when a half-dozen of them fired up simultaneously, shaking hundreds of spectators to their very bones and shooting flames 15 feet in the air. It was spectacular in the twilight hours.

I added a few classic cars to my wishlist and introduced myself to Jim Michaelian, the president and CEO of the Long Beach Grand Prix. Mostly I marveled at the ongoing tradition of car culture in Southern California, whether it's racing, customizing, or preserving. There were some gorgeous examples on display!

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