2016 Tucson Dragway Reunion
Every year the first weekend of May is set aside for the Tucson Dragway Reunion in Tucson, Arizona. 2016 was by far the best since the reunion began many years ago. Several of the cars, drivers, and crew that made the pilgrimage to Tucson this year never miss the fun and party atmosphere that has become the Tucson Dragway Reunion. The 2016 inductees were Paul Henderson of Steinegger & Eshenbaugh fame, Tommy Powers who also crewed with the S & E team, Bob Bowe who still holds many AHRA records in his Vega, and Danny Levitt Sr. who has the distinction of putting Mr. Bardahl’s Corvette on the trailer along with developing a large journal crank for small block Chevys.
The Friday night meet and greet was a big success as the spectators were treated to many of the nitro cars deciding to start their engines just for the enjoyment of the people who were in the pit area. The car display was packed with tons of beautiful pre-1984 show cars both Friday and Saturday nights. “The Old Timer”, “The Beaver Hunter”, “Speed Sport”, “Starvin’ Marvin”, “Schultz & Glenn”, “The Anaconda”, and Stienegger & Eshenbaugh’s K88 were just a few of the “nitro” cars that appeared in Jimmy Grimes’ Nitro Alley. The list goes on and has gotten bigger every year. Original Gassers like “Blu By You”, “The Time Machine”, and Severs, Weisner and Owens; all famous cars and their legendary drivers put on a spectacular show.
Push starts and the huge “Nitro Blast” on Saturday took place only a few feet from the energetic crowd for those looking to get their nitro fix for the year. The AZ Drag Racing Hall of Fame was in full swing as the “Nitro Blast” cars filed into position. Over 20 cars at the command “start your engines” lit their 100% nitro nostalgia race cars at the same time. The Tucson Dragway opened up four test and tune lanes on Saturday and even had two lanes for grudge matches with dial-ins.
A highlight of the Reunion each year is the inclusion of the Western Fuel Altered Association points race. This race and an open test and tune kept cars in the lanes and racers going down the track from the first runs at noon until the Altered finals at 10 PM. The WFA has everything from big block Chevy power to Hemi’s and Brad Andersons to TFXs in a variety of bodies such as ’34 Fords, Fiat Topolinos, Bantams, and a ‘25T pickup. The final round witnessed the ’32 Bantam of Mitch Bowen and the ’23T of Eric Gates pull into the stage beams in typical Fuel Altered fashion. When the tree went down, Gates put about a hundredth in the bank. Both cars used the entire race track from wall to cone with Bowen getting around Gates at the 1000 foot mark. Mitch ran a 6.708 at 202.30 MPH to Eric’s 6.803 at 194.18 to take the points lead on the first race of the 2016 season.
This year, as every year, the theme was “the next to the last year” so don’t miss the Tucson Dragway Reunion in 2017.