Ken Feber and his wheelstanding...
Ken Feber and his wheelstanding '74 GTO blew the crowd away with their own brand of showmanship.
What a difference a year makes. Our coverage of the '06 Ames Performance Pontiac Nationals contained the line, "The weather was great, the preparation was first-rate and, of course, the venue was really as good as it gets." All of the above still held true for 2007, though this year was even better.
Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, in Norwalk, Ohio, has enjoyed some major renovations and is one of the finest drag racing facilities in the world. New grandstands on the show side of the field, luxury boxes, extensive paving and an elevator to the top of the new grandstands made for a new look and much improved accessibility.
"The renovations made a world of difference in the presentation of the event," says Super Duty Promotions President Pete Woodruff. "Having the new pavement in the pits really helped, as the rain on Thursday would have put everyone in the mud. We had another great year and the swap meet in particular was amazing. We were up 20 vendors from last year."
Indeed, it didn't seem as though the summer's high gas prices deterred many Pontiac fans. A total of 502 cars participated in the drag racing program and 524 were registered for the show. In addition, 144 swap meet vendors used 247 spaces, 51 vehicles were registered for sale in the car corral, and over 11,000 spectators were in attendance-a new record.
With race car registration numbers that large, there was tire smoke and screaming engines all around. Last year's Chief of Pontiacs, Dave Hillard, was chauffered in a limousine to the starting line and presented with a custom leather jacket in a ceremony to kick off the start of eliminations.
Speaking of ceremonies, longtime Pontiac racer Rich Roup successfully pulled off one of the most impressive displays of bravery that any starting line ever witnessed. In front of thousands of spectators, he proposed to his longtime girlfriend Carol. Even more impressive was that he brought a minister to the starting line to make it all legal right then and there.
Fortunately, Carol said yes and she became Mrs. Carol Roup within moments. The newlyweds then made their own exhibition pass down the Summit Motorsports track in Roup's LeMans bracket car. He got the win light and the crowd cheered in approval. HPP extends its congratulations to the happy couple!
Longtime Ram Air II racer Jim Mino participated in both the drag racing and the HPP Pavement Pounders Pure Stock Shootout, which had to be rescheduled a record three times due to rain. The roundport rocket was running deep in the 12s all weekend.
There was plenty more for the fans to see in Norwalk that weekend. The exhibition racing was phenomenal, with the Nostalgia Super Stock Association providing Pontiacs and other makes for fans to experience what racing was like in the '60s.
Impressive exhibition runs were made by many racers, including Roger Stamm with his '64-vintage Mortinsen & Josephson injected front-engined Pontiac dragster; Larry Kaufman in the "War Chief" '61 Catalina; Rick Johnson's "No Sponsor" '62 Catalina; Joe Zajac's "Rompin' Redskin" '63 Catalina; Troy Tribby in his "Arapaho" '60 Ventura; the Bag Boys with the "Grocery Getter" and, of course, the legendary Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick, back in the saddle of his '64 "Tameless Tiger II" GTO. Beswick's newly resurrected '69 "Righteous Judge" also made its debut in Norwalk with Paul Spotts behind the wheel.
The exhibition rounds saw the return of the "Beat the Tiger" program, with Dave Anderson driving the "GeeTO Tiger." Though other racers, such as Chris Budzinski and Ty Caughill, raced Anderson, it was Ken Feber and his '74 GTO who stole the show. Hitting a 250-shot of nitrous at the starting line, Feber put the Goat on the back bumper and, once it landed, came up for a second wheelie. The crowd went wild and he won the race as Anderson ended up breaking out.