Drag Strip Reunion attracts auto enthusiasts

ARLINGTON The fourth annual Arlington Drag Strip Reunion and Car Show attracted a number of auto enthusiasts Sept. 8, each of whom came into their love of classic cars and other tricked-out vehicles for their own reasons.

  • Thursday, August 28, 2008 11:45am
  • News

Harold Gunderson estimates hes spent between $90

ARLINGTON The fourth annual Arlington Drag Strip Reunion and Car Show attracted a number of auto enthusiasts Sept. 8, each of whom came into their love of classic cars and other tricked-out vehicles for their own reasons.
Marysvilles Marc Buehler estimates hes spent close to $50,000 restoring his 1957 Chevrolet 210 two-door sedan, which took him eight months to rebuild.
I was working every night and weekend on it, Buehler said. I had it in a friends garage and I wasnt expecting it to turn into this big project, so I just kept going with it. So many of the parts didnt fit that I had to replace or modify them. There are plenty of parts out there for these cars, but its a matter of getting them to work.
Buehler has worked on five other cars, but this is his first Chevy and he takes pride in the sound of its engine, which comes from a 1962 Corvette.
The best part is that I know how well the motor is working just by listening to it when I drive, said Buehler, who owned a Chevy in high school and had always wanted a Corvette engine. I love that sound. Its a thing of pure beauty. These newer cars, you cant work on them by yourself, but you can customize these.
Arlingtons Dave Rygh was still a month away from installing the body on his 1923 Ford Model-T chassis, but he was proud enough of the seven years of work hed put into it so far to bring it to the car show, especially since its the first car of his own that hes rebuilt.
Ive worked on plenty of other peoples cars, said Rygh, whose engine was a 2005 prototype and new product display model from Arias. Im impressed by the hard work and dedication that everyone here has shown in their cars.
Like Rygh, Leavenworths Harold Gunderson also became fascinated with classic cars, and like many other attendees, he also took part in drag racing on the Arlington track during the 1960s. The restored 1933 Plymouth he took to the drag strip reunion was the same drag racer and towing car he purchased in 1960.
I got drug into it by my brother-in-law and his friends, said Gunderson, who estimates hes spent between $90,000-$95,000 to have his car rebuilt, complete with a 1958 Chrysler engine. With dragsters, you get the urge to build something to go faster. Its neat to see all this old stuff. Racing was simpler back then. Now, its all about big money.
Bert Kammack of Bellingham served as the drag strip reunion announcer, but his history with the track dates back to its original seven-year run. While hes no longer able to drive himself, he still loves cars and remembers his history with them fondly.
I started drag racing in 1957, before I was legal to drive, Kammack said. I wasnt a jock or a scholar in high school, but machine shop drew me in. Every year, there used to be 2,000-3,000 cars on this track. Im guessing there are a lot of elderly folks out here now who are reliving their youth, but you also see these second- and third-generation gear heads who picked up the bug from family or neighbors. Its an opportunity to come up and remember when cars kicked butt. I love the nostalgia.
This was a great place to set records, said Herb McNutt, who ran the Arlington track from 1962-1968. It still would be. Were a big, flat, long stretch at sea level, with no fences or sand traps. National racing teams used to come up here to pick up points. Theres a lot of people here that I havent seen in 40 years. Back then, we never thought wed be remembering this place 40 years later, so theres got to be something there.
Bill Kinney, director of the Arlington Boys and Girls Club, has been staging the drag strip reunion and car show since its inception, to raise funds for the Boys and Girls Club. He estimated that this years event attracted more than 500 vehicles and thousands of spectators, and in the process, raised approximately $8,500 for the club.

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