As part of the Nostalgia program,...
As part of the Nostalgia program, original race cars and drivers were reunited for a trip down the Summit Motorsports Park quarter-mile. Arlen Vanke drove both Merle Green’s ’66 Tin Indian GTO and Tim Benko’s Running Bear ’63 Tempest when they were new. He was in the red Tempest for this nostalgia run, while Norm “Sonny” Tanner, who also drove the GTO back in the day, rode shotgun.
For nearly two decades, the Ames Performance Tri-Power Pontiac Nationals has been the standard for Pontiac drag-racing events. To bring home a class win, runner-up, or even to have survived into the semifinals is quite an accomplishment, as the total car count for the race side is consistently over 400. This year, the total was 444, so if you were able to survive all of those rounds and make it to the Chief of the Pontiacs championship race, you truly deserved the spoils of victory.
In addition to the regular race programs, spectators were treated to some very exciting exhibition passes. Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick in the Tameless Tiger II '64 Pro Mod GTO paired against Bag-Boy Eric Larson in the Grocery Getter '63 Tempest wagon. Also Dave Anderson ran the Beat the Tiger program in Jim Wangers' '66 GeeTO Tiger.
The Nostalgia Super Stock Association also presented a program of '60s-era factory race cars at Norwalk. The exciting thing about that is it wasn't just Pontiacs. There were Mopars, Fords, and Chevys taking to the track, just like it was in the old days. Racers such as Rick Johnson, Joe Zajac, Larry Kaufman, and others did a great job of carrying the Pontiac torch in those matchups.
(Inset) Nostalgia Super Stock...
(Inset) Nostalgia Super Stock racing is an exciting blend of vintage body styles and more modern engine and chassis technology. This wheels-up confrontation between Rick Johnson’s No Sponsor ’62 Catalina and Joe Zajac’s Rompin’ Redskin ’63 Catalina resulted in low 9-second e.t.’s (Johnson occasionally dips into the high 8s), far quicker than the original Super-Dutys.
The midday ceremony on Sunday included a parade of original factory race cars reunited with their drivers. Merle Green, owner of the '66 Knafel Pontiac Tin Indian race car, organized the display in the manufacturers' midway and then brought the cars out for a starting-line ceremony. In addition to the Tin Indian, Merle brought out Tim Benko's '63 Running Bear LeMans, the '62 Anderson Pontiac A/Stock Super-Duty Catalina sedan, Don Gay's original '62 Infinity Catalina sedan, and Kenny Colacino's '62 421 SD Grand Prix, an unrestored barn find that is still very original. The original drivers included Akron Arlen Vanke, Norm "Sonny" Tanner, and Larry "Doc" Dixon, all of whom drove for Knafel Pontiac in Akron during the '60s.
There were several performances of note that weekend at Summit Motorsports Raceway Park. Lou Greco, of Edinburg, Pennsylvania, ran his '70 Judge hard all weekend, taking Friday night's Spotts Performance Box class, Sunday's AllPontiac.com Super Pro class, and then going to the finals in the Chief of the Pontiacs, where he redlighted—all in all, a stellar performance.
Todd Filson, of Fairborn, Ohio, and his rear-engined dragster waded through round after round to take the AllPontiac.com Super Pro win on Saturday against Kalvi Puru's '69 GTO. Then on Sunday, he came back to win the KRE Quick 16, beating Jim Scott and his '68 Firebird with a 7.602 at 169.53 mph. Well done!
Jim Pickett’s ’63 Tempest...
Jim Pickett’s ’63 Tempest wagon lunges off the line during the Nostalgia Super Stock program. Jim was the low e.t. qualifier in the K&M Performance MR-1 Heads-up class with an 8.766 at 152.06-mph pass.
The Kauffman Racing Equipment (KRE) crew was on hand with its rear-engined dragster, which set the low e.t. for Sunday's KRE Quick 16 with a 6.609 pass at 210.28 mph.
As previously reported, Rodney Butler and Travis Quillen really set the Pontiac world on its ear, showing up with their sinister-looking, matte-black '63 LeMans and making Pontiac racing history, taking the number one qualifier spot for the Butler Performance Frantic Four, and then running a mind-bending 6.421 at 222.11. The team then backed it up with an even better 6.278 at 228.11 mph.
For the last two years, a non-traditional Pontiac took the Chief of the Pontiacs crown. Last year, it was Steven Douglas with his nearly stock four-cylinder '84 Fiero. This year, it was Chris Yates and his '00 GTP sedan. Running a high-powered, front-wheel-drive race car is a considerable challenge for a bracket racer. With the limited traction capabilities of front wheel drive, racers need to keep the nose down and limit weight transfer. Add in the fact that stock supercharged GTPs suffer from a heat-soak problem, which slows the cars as more laps are made, and racing one is no walk in the park.
Chris solved both of those problems with slicks, strategic chassis mods, and the addition of an air-to-liquid intercooler to his blown V-6, which lowers charge temperatures and makes cool-downs between rounds a lot easier.
Dave “Big Injun” Anderson...
Dave “Big Injun” Anderson made several exhibition runs in Jim Wangers’ ’66 GeeTO Tiger as part of the Beat the Tiger program. Dave was running 10s all weekend.
Exhibition-class racing excitement...
Exhibition-class racing excitement included Pontiac legend Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick going up against Eric Larson and the Grocery Getter ’63 Tempest wagon. Both cars are solid 7-second machines.
Robin Roberts and his ’76...
Robin Roberts and his ’76 Trans Am take on Jeff Sams and his ’63 LeMans. Roberts’ is currently the quickest street-legal traditional Pontiac car in the country, running very low 8s in the quarter.