I only did a tiny rant last time. I held most of it in, so to speak. My plan was to let ‘er rip this week. But you know what? We’ve had enough negativity this past year, and I don’t really want to add to that. My beef, as reflected in the title, is that the Antique Nationals–i.e., nostalgia–aint’ what it used to be. If it weren’t so personally painful, it’d actually be funny. They, and similar current nostalgia drag events, won’t let my historic vintage dragster run down the track because it’s too vintage, too antique! How ironic. If it were obviously unsafe like the dragsters I showed last time, I’d understand. But it’s not. Neither was Chrisman’s Hustler I. But once I calmed down, I realized that the two tracks that most rudely ejected and banned me, Famoso and “Fontana,” are both sponsored by AAA, an insurance company. So more rules, more cost, more hassle, far fewer participants.
This year would have been the 50th Annual Antique Nationals, of course cancelled by Covid. I have to admit I didn’t miss it, and haven’t been the last couple of years. But this used to be one of those once-a-year car events nobody missed, especially if you were into hot rod history–like the L.A. Roadster Show, Old Timers’ Night in Boston, Vintage Night at Ascot, or the first Hot Rod Reunions at Bakersfield and Bowling Green. My memory seems to differ a bit from the official website, but the Antique Nats has definitely outlived four tracks here in SoCal. It started as the Bonnie & Clyde–or “999”–Drags at Lions. Then a small club (about 20 members) dedicated to Model T, A, B, and C Ford engines, Four-Ever-Four, founded the Antique Nationals at Irwindale (I think), in 1970. This was open to ’34 and earlier vehicles only. But soon they included pre-’49 models as long as they ran ’48 and earlier-style engines. This included any Ford flathead V8s, and Chevy/GMC sixes through ’62, so my old ’48 Chevy bomb qualified, and I raced it every year, starting in Irwindale ’til it closed in ’77, then to Orange County (OCIR) ’til it closed in ’83, then to Palmdale until it closed in ’07, thence to “Auto Club Raceway” in Fontana. I am very proud to say I won my class (Inliners) four times, with a special trophy shelf for my four engraved mugs. But perhaps even more prestigious are the special T-shirts with “WINNER” and the year in big letters under the usual logo. You can’t get one unless you win. I’m saving the three I have left because I wore one completely out.