Dave Sano's '74 Grand Am NHRA nostalgia Funny Car has gone over 200 mph and earned many ti
After preparing their Pontiacs for a summer of drag racing fun, racers from across the U.S. converged upon Petersburg, Virginia, from May 30-June 2, 2008, for the fifth annual "PY Pontiacs in the Park." The event, presented by Chief Pontiac Productions and Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP) and title-sponsored by Performance Years, is known for its great drag racing action, unique show cars, and celebrity appearances.
Friday featured a midway as sponsors and venders from across the country displayed the latest in Pontiac-themed offerings. An adjacent car corral and swap meet area made it possible for racers and collectors to find their next Pontiac restoration project or the parts to put it together. But most of the Friday crowds were at Pontiacs in the Park for test and tune. The Pontiac-powered race cars were determined to lay down lots of rubber, and to pickup their first timeslips of the summer season. Because all model Pontiacs were invited, it was not uncommon to see 15-second stockers all the way down to 8-second, tube-chassis race cars strutting their stuff on VMP's asphalt. Friday evening featured the VMP Street Wars and the PY Pontiacs in the Park Chicago Style Shootout.
Saturday was a picture-perfect sunny day and the crowds packed the stands for exhibition racing. Arnie Beswick performed his trademark half-track burnout in his Tameless Tiger II GTO. Other crowd-pleasing exhibitions included Jim Wangers and Dave Anderson with the GeeTO Tiger; Milt Schornak's '70 GTO; Jack Gaydosh's '06 Pro Stock GTO; and Rocky Pirrone and Dave Sano with their nostalgia Funny Cars. Saturday also featured a professionally-judged car show sponsored by two local car clubs, GTO of Richmond and the Old Dominion POCI chapter, and an evening BBQ hosted by Performance Years.
In what was possibly the most exhilarating exhibition of the weekend, Ron Henaghan, Marketing Director of VMP, lined up the Chicago Auto Show Pontiac G8 GT against Wangers' GeeTo Tiger. In a classic "arm-drop"-style race started by Wangers, Anderson and the GeeTo Tiger gave the G8 a 3-second handicap, predicting there was no way it could "beat the Tiger"-but Henaghan knew his track well. He launched at 1,500 rpm, allowed the G8's six-speed automatic transmission to handle the shifts, and beat the GeeTo Tiger to the finish line by 0.4 as the crowd cheered out of control.
Saturday and Sunday racing featured 95 competitors in three classes: AllPontiac.com SuperPro, H&J Motorsports Warehouse Heavy, and Ken's Speed and Machine Street. The winner from each class on each day entered eliminations on Sunday to determine who would be "King of the Hill." The eliminations came down to two contenders: Tom Kilroy in an '01 Grand Am and Tom Smithnosky in an '05 GTO. Kilroy was closest to his dial-in during this final race of the weekend and was declared the winner.
Jim Zeek, of Chief Pontiac Productions, promises that next year's event, scheduled for May 2009, will be bigger and better than ever. Visit www.pontiacsinthepark.com for updates.
The Chicago Auto Show Pontiac G8, in ultra-rare Stealth Blue Metallic paint (code 25U), to
Don Blind won "Editor's Choice" for his gorgeous '62 Catalina featuring an original 389 bl
Best of show went to David Merricks with his just-restored, two-owner '77 Trans Am SE.
Modern-era GTOs were among the most popular Pontiacs displayed at Saturday's car show.
Ray Loan brought his '66 GTO intending to win. It didn't let him down, taking first place
This '68 GTO, owned by Russ White, won Heavy class on Saturday.