The 13th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion rolls into Bowling Green, Kentucky this week. Beginning Thursday, tire smoke and nitro fumes will fill the air as Fuelers, Funny Cars, Altereds, Gassers and hot rods and customs of all kinds storm the track and fill the grounds of Beech Bend Raceway. Organized by the dedicated folks at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, the Hot Rod Reunions are widely considered the premier events for fans of nostalgia drag racing, hot rods and customs. A whole lot of our readers and friends are heading to Bowling Green, and we thought we’d give you a preview of what will be on hand.
The Bowling Green Hot Rod Reunion is now in its 13th year, and Holley has sponsored the event from the very beginning. They’re hardcore hot rodders, and many employees will have their personal cars on display. Among them will be this very cool, very complete Fiat Altered that was recently unearthed by VP of Product Management and Engineering, Shane Weckerly. (That name might ring a bell–we featured his mega-horsepower ’40 Willys in TRJ #11.)
The Fiat was originally built in Connecticut in 1963 and campaigned until the early-’70s. Everything is original to the car except the injected big block and trans that Shane installed for Bowling Green. Although he plans to have it running in the future, this year it will be on display in Memory Lane, directly across from Holley’s tractor-trailer. Be sure to check it out, then head to Holley’s rig to see their new smallblock Tri-Power systems and nostalgic Weiand blower cases–two great new offerings for the traditional rodder.
Tony Lombardi, owner of Ohio-based Ross Racing Engines, is a longtime hot rodder and racer who will be debuting his latest nostalgia Top Fueler, “Atomic Rocket,” at Bowling Green. Over the last few weeks he’s peppered us with photos of the car as he thrashes to complete it for the race. “We might be bolting parts on in the staging lanes, but we’ll be there,” he jokes. The Fueler is powered by one of Ross’ all-aluminum Olds Rocket V8s topped with an 8-71 huffer and a rare (and beautiful) Donovan injection unit.
Many of you may remember the “Great Expectations” Fueler campaigned by Virginia’s Jim and Alison Lee in the late-’60s. It was as beautiful as it was competitive, and now the Lee’s grandson, Tyler Hilton, has built a tribute nostalgia Fueler that he’ll be racing for the first time at Bowling Green. Tyler is the third generation of drag racing Hiltons–his other grandfather, John, raced in the ’60s, and dad Bobby drove for the Lee’s and many others in his day. The latest car, “Great Expectations III,” is powered by a Ross Racing-built, Brodix-based big block Chevy and features the original car’s trademark blue and yellow fade paint.
Todd Haas and his crew will be heading up from Florida to compete with their triple threat street/strip/salt ’34 Ford roadster. In 2004, they drove the car 700 miles from So-Cal Speed Shop in Pomona to Bonneville and immediately turned 207mph. By the end of the week, they’d set the G/BFR record at 210.881mph (they also hold the G/BGR of 189.093mph). They’ve since converted the roadster to run nostalgia drag events like the HRR in Bowling Green with a Hilborn-injected smallblock Chevy.
In addition to the cars competing at the event, a host of restored or recreated vintage racers will be fired off during Saturday evening’s Cacklefest. Among the assemblage this year will be Marty Harrison’s recreation of the Hundley and Boggs AA/FD, originally campaigned out of West Virginia. Belton, South Carolina’s Horton Race Cars faithfully recreated the Kellison-bodied Fueler, shown here in this Tom Hassell photo.
Vintage Air’s Jack Chisenhall will also be on hand as he debuts his recently restored Texas Longhorn II. It was originally campaigned by Texas hot rodders Danny Rightsell and Gordon Leland. We’ll have a full feature in an upcoming TRJ, but in the meantime you can check it out in person at Bowling Green.
Ohio hot rodder Joe Chapman will rumble into Beech Bend in his ’41 Willys–an old drag car that was originally raced in Canada. It features a steel body and ‘glass front end shrouding a 4-71-blown smallblock hooked to a Richmond 5-speed. Real Rodders Kidney Bean wheels are a nice period touch.
In addition to competition cars, hot rods and customs of all varieties are also making their way to Bowling Green for Axalta’s Show and Shine. We heard from our pal Zach Fox from Detroit who will be motoring south with his car club, the Road Devils. Zach will be behind the wheel of his ’40 Ford convertible, which belonged to his late grandfather, and he’ll be joined by a number of fellow Road Devils including Brandon Hibdon in his ’50 Ford coupe and Jason Poirier in his drag-influenced ’29 Ford roadster.
We wish everyone safe travels and safe competition–it’s bound to be another event for the history books. Visit www.Museum.NHRA.com for more information, and stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram pages for more updates as the show gets underway!