What's the summer's biggest...
What's the summer's biggest Pontiac event without an appearance from the '66 GTO Monkeemobile? Its owner (at the time) described it as an authorized re-creation, approved by Hollywood car-customizer Dean Jeffries.
The Ames Performance Tri Power Pontiac Nationals, held annually at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, continues to band together a brand that refuses to fade away. The soiree’s 20th anniversary show—held last August—confirmed that Pontiac hobbyists are as loyal to the Performance Division as they’ve ever been.
The pilgrimage kicked off on Friday, August 5, 2011, at 9 a.m., when event coordinators Pete and Andi Woodruff of Super Duty Promotions opened the gates to cars and spectators. Over the course of the three-day event, 487 Pontiacs displayed on the show-car field; 182 vendors sold new and used Pontiac parts, automotive nostalgia, and other retail items on 327 swap-meet spaces (a new show record); dozens of classic and late-model Pontiacs were offered up for sale in the car corral; and 11,759 spectators walked through the gates.
This year’s Nationals marked High Performance Pontiac’s debut sponsorship of Pontiacs on Parade. According to Editor Thomas A. DeMauro: “HPP was eager to participate in this premier Pontiac gathering on its 20th anniversary, and sponsorship of Pontiacs on Parade was a perfect fit. What’s so enticing about it is that hobbyists are able to display their Ponchos on the show field without the pressure of being judged. As a result, spectators had access to many unique vehicles that may not have participated otherwise. Pontiacs On Parade cars ranged from clean drivers and weekend cruisers to feature-quality machines. For example, Eric Emmerich’s ’65 GTO convertible, which was featured in the Mar. ’12 issue, was a Pontiacs on Parade participant.”
A ’64 Grand Prix owned by...
A ’64 Grand Prix owned by Jim Werley leads off High Performance Pontiac’s Pontiacs on Parade car display.
The Nationals also marked the return of Knafel Pontiac’s race-car display, sponsored by Merle and Mike Green’s 1A-Auto, and featuring restored examples of the dealership’s famous race cars. On hand were Keith Curry’s ’61 SD Catalina, Bill Hemperly’s ’62 SD Catalina; Tim Benko’s ’63 LeMans “Running Bear”; Merle Green’s ’66 GTO “Tin Indian (No. 5)”; and Gary Kuch’s ’70 GTO Judge.
The Little Indians Chapter of POCI also hosted a ’61-’63 Tempest reunion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the technologically advanced “ropeshaft” transaxle cruisers. It drew cars from as far as Arizona.
From the start to the climactic conclusion on Sunday, Pontiac excitement ran high. “The biggest moment of Friday was an exhibition pass by the GM Futurliner,” Pete says. “It was such a huge success that we brought it back out for another pass on Saturday with Summit Motorsports Race Director Nettie Damron on board.”
Speaking of Saturday, despite a rain forecast, the day was blessed with the unannounced arrival of a recreation Monkeemobile, which drew throngs of onlookers. Pontiac celebrities were on hand, too, including GTO ad-man Jim Wangers, legendary Pontiac dragcar racer Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick, PHS Automotive Services historian Jim Mattison, retired Pontiac historian and motorsports director Fred Simmonds, and former Knafel Pontiac drivers Akron Arlen Vanke and Larry “Doc” Dixon. Many of them spent their time signing autographs and re-telling stories of Pontiac’s most famous days.
Whether your definition of...
Whether your definition of Pontiac performance is an ’06 GTO, like this appealing Brazen Orange example owned by Denny Jaeb or a ’58 Bonneville coupe, like this Tri-Power treat owned by Walter Scott, Pontiacs on Parade celebrated Pontiacs from all generations.
On Sunday afternoon, Pete and Andi handed out 163 car-show trophies inside the Ames Performance hospitality tent. “We were really pleased at the amount of out-of-state car-show winners,” Pete says. “We had winners from out of our core area of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, including from as far away as Pennsylvania and Arizona.”
The 21st Annual Pontiac Nationals will be held August 3, 4, and 5, 2012. For more information, visit www.pontiac nationals.com.
Next month we’ll bring you all the exciting, tire-smoking, Pontiac-only drag-race payout action. Don’t miss it.
Leading off with this Atlantis...
Leading off with this Atlantis Blue ’79 Trans Am with 15x8-inch, color-keyed Snowflake wheels, there were plenty of pristine Second-Gen’s on hand in the Pontiacs on Parade display.
This ’73 Grand Prix SJ owned...
This ’73 Grand Prix SJ owned by Troy Tackett is 1 of 20,749 top-of-the-line GPs produced for the model year. Though not rare, this cool custom treatment of the front end, featuring the elimination of the bumper and the addition of an airdam and foglights, makes for a particularly attractive combination.
Don Vrabec is the current...
Don Vrabec is the current owner of this rare ’70 Hurst Grand Prix SSJ, which he recently restored. According to him, it originally came with a Hurst-optioned telephone and television, though both are no longer with the car.
Ames Performance Best In Class
||2006 Grand Prix GXP Sedan
|GTO / Judge
||1965 GTO Convertible
|Firebird / Trans Am
||1976 Trans Am
||2007 Solstice GXP Roadster
Editor’s Choice Awards
|High Performance Pontiac
||1961 Tempest Wagon
|Hemmings Classic Car
||1953 Chieftain Station Wagon
|Hemmings Muscle Machines
|Dave & Denise Armstrong
||1969 Firebird Convertible
|Long Distance Award
||Drove his 1961 Tempest
||1966 GTO Monkeemobile
The event’s swap meet featured...
The event’s swap meet featured a plethora of rare and unusual items—hope you saved your 8-track collection from back in the day.
Going for the stealth look,...
Going for the stealth look, this matte-black ’68 LeMans owned by Tony Allbery features modern LS power, wheels, tires, and brakes, and a custom interior.
The Little Indians chapter...
The Little Indians chapter of POCI put up their teepees on the show field and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Tempest, including this pow-wow of ’61s…
And this nation of ’63s. Counting...
And this nation of ’63s. Counting show and race cars, HPP was told that there were over 50 ’61-’63 Tempests and LeMans at the event.
Here’s a Pontiac that needs...
Here’s a Pontiac that needs no introduction—a ’65 GTO convertible in Starlight Black. Owned by Lee Barnes, this one took Ames Performance Best in Class GTO/Judge.
Brian Niemann shows off his...
Brian Niemann shows off his ’95 Firehawk convertible, which is one of only two Medium Red Metallic ’Hawks made that year. It nested amongst the fellow SLP-modified Firebirds and Trans Ams that attended the Firehawk Association of America’s (FAOA) 17th Annual Rally, which is held at the Pontiac Nationals every year. The car corral is in the background.