October Roads... in November? Guess you might say I'm getting a late
start. You know, I usually come back from the California Hot Rod Reunion
with two or three stories just about finished before I even sit down in
front of the computer... but not this year. Started a few different things
and they all came out sounding like stuff I'd done and written last
Now, I did make my usual pre-sunrise pilgrimage to the track Friday ...
spent some time during qualifying on the starting line... hung out with
the 1320 people in ‘The Grove'... inhaled damn near a drum of burned
NITRO... put in an appearance at The Doubletree Inn both Thursday AND
Friday nights... did the Cacklefest on Saturday... didn't miss the In
‘N Out thing Sunday night either. Hell, I even got to play a small part
in Saturday night's "Ring of Fire."
Sounds like my dance card was pretty full, no? But, still nothing
"meaty" to write more than a few lines about. Man, if I had to
do this for a living, I'd have no need for the Atkins Diet.
At pretty near the same time some of us were making the trip to
Bakersfield, James Taylor was releasing a new album titled "October
Road"... made it's debut at # 4 on the Billboard Top 100. The album
features remakes of a few songs Mr. Taylor has performed in the past... as
well as some new material. He decided to surround himself mostly with
people he has worked with before and not to venture too far from the
format that has worked for him over the years. And to keep it brief.
Maybe he's on to something.
And so, I present... the November release of Badco's own
"October Road" collection. Doubt if it'll make # 4 on anybody's
list... but it does re-visit a few things I've done in the past... as
well as feature some new material... and I also decided to surrounded
myself mostly with people I already knew and not venture too far from the
old format... and, oh yeah... I'll try to keep it brief. After all... it
seems to have worked for James Taylor.
" October Road '02 "
1. Stepping out of the commuter plane at Meadows Field (Bakersfield)
early Thursday, smelling the sandy air, and remembering the weather was
exactly the same the day I left last year.
2. Being part of the crowd gathered around Tom Hanna's trailer
Thursday afternoon to witness the official unveiling of the most
beautifully detailed dragster ever built.
3. Meeting Gail Johnston, Bud De Boer, and Gordon Jenner at the
Vagabond Inn Thursday afternoon.
4. Listening to "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac...
** Seems like a dream (they) got me hypnotized **...
...playing at 4:00 AM on the car stereo while gliding along Famoso Road
with the glow of the lights from the track visible over the horizon. Love
these Friday mornings here.
5. Listening to a pair of owls calling back and forth to each other
while standing at the finish line at about 4:30 AM. One of them was
perched above me on top of the pit side scoreboard. Did you know owls make
no sound at all when they flap their wings? Or that the sky was absolutely
pitch black that morning?
6. Seeing the most beautifully detailed dragster ever built, on the
front page of Friday's "Bakersfield Californian." You know,
you don't have to be an artist to recognize a work of art.
7. Having a nice laid back breakfast at Milt's with Warren Walther
8. Crusin' around Famoso Raceway in a rented golf cart.
9. Standing in awe next to George Bolthoff's magnificent re-pop of
his Chrysler powered gas dragster. And being awed again later when I got
to hear it's legendary "rump - rump" idle, while 'Blackie
Carbon' smoke flew from the headers every time he whacked the throttle.
10. Watching two gentlemen with perhaps the most creative minds in all
of Drag Racing sitting together and quietly talking. Kent Fuller and Fred
11. Meeting Patty Hutson at the informal 1320 gathering at the
Doubletree Inn Friday evening. Ms. Hutson drove a Fuel Dragster BEFORE the
days of licensing! Possibly, she's the first woman to wheel a fueler?
12. Enjoying dinner at the Doubletree while the "Ernie's
Camera" NITRO burning Pontiac powered digger ‘cackles' outside in
the parking lot.
13. Buying Steve Gibbs another beer.
14. Krispy Kreme Donuts and coffee Saturday morning in "The
15. Hanging out at the starting line with Paula (Miss STP) Murphy and
Suzy (Suzy's Scrapbook from Drag News) Kelly. Two fine babes!
16. Volunteering to be a ‘Participant Coordinator' for the
"Ring of Fire" and finding out the five cars I get to ‘coordinate'
1. Hanna's digger
2. Beebe & Mulligan
3. The "Samurai"
4. Loukas & Preising's Fuel Coupe
5. Floyd & Albrich's "North Wind"
17. Slowly working our way through the crowd in the golf cart, while
the formerly wheelchair bound "Wheels" Inglis WALKED along
beside us!!! Miracles DO happen!!
18. Finding a front engine chassis for sale in the Swap Meet area with
a unique front-end setup none of us ‘chassis guys' could identify or
recall having ever seen anything quite like it before.
19. Seeing the delighted look on Vance Hunt's face when he saw his
friend Rance McDaniels at the starting line during Saturday's first Top
Fuel qualifying session.
20. Bumping into old friends Jack & Pat Brady... who came all the
way from Cumberland, R.I. and Rocky Pirrone... who came all the way from
Philadelphia, Pa. and Gail Johnston... who came all the way from another
continent... North Hamptonshire, England... Blimey!!!
21. Hanging out in the impromptu 'staging area' at the far end of the
track prior to Saturday evening's "Cacklefest".
22. Finally getting to meet Greg Sharp.
23. Sitting in the stands with a large gathering of fellow Standard
1320 folks and digging on the "Cacklefest" (even though I had
'on track' credentials).
24. Watching the headers on the King & Marshall fueler turn cherry
red as it 'cackled'.
25. Debating with friends over who 'cackled' the loudest... my pick had
to be the Chrisman & Cannon "Hustler"... the trick's in the
'weed burners'. But don't forget, Art Chrisman sure knows how to tune a
26. Checking in with the five crews on my 'Participant Coordinator'
list prior to the "Ring Of Fire"... making sure they understood
the rules, arrived at the staging area at the proper time, found their
'spot' in the ring... etc.
27. Dropping by Tom Hanna's pit area just before the start of the
"Ring". (NOTE... one of the rules for participation was - either
the driveline had to be disconnected or the car had to be sitting on jack
stands... OK?... Now dig this... Tom's busy 'uncoupling' the coupler when
he notices I'm standing there. He looks me right square in the eye and
asks "Is this how you wanted it, Bill?" Man, I was speechless!
Think I should I have told him "Naaa... do it over again!" ??
28. Meanwhile at the Loukas & Preising pit, word went out that Bud
DeBoer would be sitting in the coupe in "The Ring".
29. Checking in on the "Samurai" pit area and finding it
empty... searching all over for them... then finding out the reason their
area was empty. They were the FIRST guys in line over in the staging area!
Man, did I get a great lineup of crews? Nope... I got the BEST lineup of
30. Getting run over by some woman in a golf cart just before the start
of "The Ring". Perhaps this was the same woman the G-Man and I
ran over earlier today getting even? Paybacks ARE a bitch, 'ya know.
31. Standing in the middle of a circle of dragsters, fuel altereds,
funny cars, with an occasional gasser thrown into the mix, in total
darkness (except for the header flames), as some were idling... some were
goosing the throttles... most were burning NITRO... some burned alcohol,
and a few gas. The smell of all this mix being burned together as well as
the smell hot engines was UNREAL!!! Not overwhelming like I suspected it
might be, just UNREAL!!! BTW... I did have an escape route plotted out,
just in case.
32. Seeing the look of total disappointment on Bud DeBoer's face when
the Loukas & Preising coupe refused to fire.
33. Wondering... while surrounded by the noise, flames, and fumes, as a
cloud of spent gasses floated overhead... "Did anyone check to see if
this is even legal?"
34. The roar from the crowd when the last engine fell silent and the
35. Realizing when this deal ended and the lights were turned back on,
that the stands were still packed. And it was late!
36. Hearing that some bastard stole the disconnected steering wheel
from the King & Marshall digger as driver Tom Steed was climbing out.
37. Hearing later that some bastard was stopped at the gate by the
security people, carrying a dragster steering wheel under their jacket.
Chalk one up for the good guys!
38. Seeing Kent Fuller near the Main Entrance Sunday morning and
offering him a ride over to the Standard 1320 area in the golf cart.
Slowly working our way through the crowd for the five-minute or so ride...
we talked about everything BUT Drag Racing. This could only happen here.
39. Being part of the crowd that stood around Dennis Prater's slowly
coming together Stellings & Hampshire digger (yes, it's the S&H
Red Stamp car) as it 'cackled' with our gal Gail (the Limey) on board.
40. Standing in almost the same spot a little later and seeing the look
of total elation on Bud DeBoer's face as he sat in the "MagiCar"
while it 'cackled' (remember the coupe incident last night?). I've said
this before, and it's true... "You're a good man, Bill Pitts".
41. Hearing the call over the PA for the Finals in all classes... and
thinking "Damn, this thing is winding down."
42. Sitting in the stands watching the Finals, with "Mad" Max
Romero on my right and Bud DeBoer on my left. Max has been partners with
John "Mr. Flathead" Bradley for years, and Bud's been a racing
journalist for just about as long. I can remember reading about J.B.'s
exploits, starting with the "Gene's Brake Shop" fueler. I'd bet
Bud wrote some of that stuff that I read. Again... this can only happen
43. Enjoying a "Double Double" with fries and a chocolate
shake at the Panama Road "In 'N Out" as darkness sets in on this
glorious Sunday evening. In a short while, the Official "Last
Cacklefest" of the 2002 edition of the California Hot Rod Reunion
will take place right here in the parking lot. And this whole deal will be
44. Just before stepping into the commuter plane at Meadows Field
(Bakersfield) early Monday smelling the sandy air, and remembering the
weather was exactly the same the day I left last year. Some thing ARE
worth repeating, are they not?
More old B.S. later.
** © 1972 Bob Welch / Bob Welch Music **