Gassers, if you aren’t familiar, are those drag racers that ran in the NHRA Gas classes from 1955 to 1971 and the similar classes of other sanctioning bodies. As distilled down by SEGA, the hallmarks of a ’67-style gasser are a solid front axle (straight or dropped) suspended from leaf springs, an elevated stance (12 inches at the rocker behind the front wheels, 11 inches at the rocker ahead of the rear wheels), a vintage (i.e. a design that existed in 1967) V-8 engine, and a manual transmission
.The SEGA rules also make it clear that every car has to be invited and that day-of-race entries aren’t permitted—you should check with the organizers before assuming anything is within the spirit of the rules. Still, the general guidance on selecting a vehicle for racing is “Closed full body styled production cars 1967 or earlier. No open or altered body styles. All cars must have a top/roof” with further prohibitions on 1967 Mustangs, all Camaros (we’re guessing Firebirds too), V-8 Corvairs, Opels, and Cougars.
While it’s got a ways to go before punishing pavement under its own power, Mike Finnegan’s Caddy drag build is a seriously cool project. We attended his open house and he gave us a full run down on the build progress.
When the first legal drag race in the Detroit area took place in Livonia in 1953, the Michigan Hot Rod Association began making plans for the construction of a drag strip. MHRA was started as a partnership of local hot rod clubs. As part of their fundraising strategy for the strip, they put on a hot rod show, the Detroit Autorama, in an arena at the University of Detroit.
Dave and Al Tarkanyi belonged to the Downriver Modified Car Club, one of the clubs making up the MHRA. The brothers drove a chopped and channeled 1932 Ford three-window coupe with a hopped-up Flathead engine. The car was at the 1953 Livonia race. Five years later, when the Motor City Dragway in New Baltimore held its first race, the car was there too. It also continued to show up at the annual Detroit Autorama
Vintage racing has been growing rapidly in our area, and Iron Trap Garage is finally going to be joining in with the fun! E.J Kowalski and Bill Rowe are hosting a weekend of vintage drags at the Allentown Fairgrounds on the old circle track. The track was open from 1915 until 1969 and saw the likes of Mario Andretti, Aj Foyt, and Parnelli Jones. The dirt track has since been replaced with cinders, and the grandstands mostly used for concerts during the summer. It is amazing to be apart of such an amazing event on a track with so much history. Join us as we take the Pagoda City Coupe out for a day of trashing!!!
Back in 2012, a small drag-oriented event held on the East Coast called the Race of Gentlemen (TROG) shook the hot rod scene. Although it gathered only 15 hot rods and 15 motorcycles, it still captured the imagination of gearheads the world over. It was organized on the beach and featured aesthetics reminiscent of faded pictures glued in a 1950s photo album.
Over the years, other TROGs have come and gone, including one in 2016 that tread the sand of Pismo Beach, California (unfortunately plagued by stormy weather). Promoter Mel Stultz and his crew traveled back home afterwards, thinking another race was unlikely to take place on the West Coast. Yet, surprisingly, officials from the scenic city of Santa Barbara contacted Stultz in 2018 and asked him to have an event in town! They made it clear racing on the sand would not be an option, but how about using a street along the beach?
Sad news this week with the passing of Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen who along with Don “The Snake” Prudhomme set the drag racing world alight in the 60’s. The two eventually toured as a pair sponsored by Mattel who produced a range of toys to match.
There was also been a film released in 2013 celebrating the pair’s rivalry entitled Snake & Mongoose