Return of a Vintage Nitro Warrior
By Vic Cooke
The Loukas-Preising AA/Fuel Comp machine thrilled the fans at Thompson.
Photo by Vic Cooke
The days of the "Competition Coupe, Sedan and Modified Roadster" Class in drag racing drew to an end in the mid-'60s, and with it closed a chapter on one of the "coolest" types of vehicle to ever compete in drag racing. Only a handful of these cars were nitro-burners, and among the most competitive of this rare breed was the Bantam-bodied, Loukas-Preising AA/Fuel Comp car operating out of the Cleveland area (Parma, Ohio). The team was closely allied with the Chris Karamesines/Don Maynard operation in Chicago, and was a member of the "Greek Fleet."
John Loukas retired this car from competition after 1965, and ultimately it found its way to the Garlits "Museum of Drag Racing" in Ocala where it was displayed for several years until John got the itch to further restore it and play with it one more time. He reclaimed it a couple years ago, and has brought it up to it to its present show-sharp condition. This car has been one of the feature "Cacklefest" participants at the California Hot Rod Reunion for the past two years, as well as making appearances at numerous other events.
The car gets fired for its first trip down the quarter in 35 years! Photo by Vic Cooke
The expansion of the "Gasser Magazine Fuel and Gas Nostalgia Reunion" to include a broader array of vintage equipment led to the car returning to its home-turf of Cleveland, Ohio, last weekend for an appearance at the 2003 event at Thompson Dragway. This photo sequence shows the car in one of its on-track "Cacklefest" appearances. Following an informational interview on the starting line, the car was pushed downtrack, turned around, and given a traditional "push-start" back toward the starting line. With longtime crewman/associate Nick Wolansky behind the wheel, the car then made a part-throttle pass down the track, marking the first time the car had done so under its own power in over 35 years!
Nick Wolansky gets pushed back, but not before firing it one more time for the fans.
Photo by Vic Cooke
Passing in front of the grandstands on the return road, Nick re-lit it and provided a nitro-sound-and-scent treat for all the delighted fans. For some, it was a first-ever experience, and for many, it was a sight not seen in over a generation that evoked powerful memories.
The car will make an appearance at the upcoming NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky. After the CHRR this fall, the car will be returned to museum display at the NHRA Museum in Pomona.