Honorees Named for 18th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion, presented by Automobile Club of Southern California

July 24, 2009


BAKERSFIELD, CA – The 18th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion, presented by Automobile Club of Southern California, is the place to relive the good old days of drag racing as well as honor some of the coolest nicknamed drivers and drag strip heroes, Oct. 16-18.

This year’s Honorees are Danny Broussard, Don Moody, Steve Reyes, “Jet Car Bob” Smith and Walt Stevens. The Grand Marshal is stock and Funny Car veteran of over 50 years Jess Tyree, better known as “Mr. Pontiac.” 

Grand Marshal Jess Tyree is a stock and Funny Car veteran of over fifty years in the
 GM Jess Tyre
sport.  Jess started drag racing in the early days of the Santa Ana Drags with a variety of vehicles including a ’38 Chevy. A few years later he raced a ’57 Plymouth Fury, was recognized for his ability and was asked to drive a new ’57 Pontiac. From 1957-’73 (except for a brief spell behind the wheel of a Mickey Thompson Ford Thunderbolt) it was always the GM brand earning Jess the nickname “Mr. Pontiac”. Through the early ‘60s, his A/Stock ’62 Catalina and A/FX ’63 Tempest were at the top of West Coast competition.  He scored a big win with Super Stock class honors at the ’62 Winternationals driving a Mickey Thompson Pontiac Catalina. He went on to race a long series of Pontiac Funny Cars out of his successful Tyree Headers shop in Orange County beginning with the Tempest and moving on to ‘glass bodied Firebirds. In 1969 he was one of the first to take a Funny Car to Australia, and was a member of the Coca-Cola Funny Car Cavalcade of Stars touring the country in 1969 and ’70.  After more than half a century of drag racing, Jess is still out there match racing and performing exhibitions around the country with the re-creation of his ’63 Tempest A/FXer.




 Danny Broussard

Danny Broussard was the first person to have Keith Black Racing Engines lettered on his race car. His first strip-only race car was a ’29 roadster pickup powered by an injected Buick. It appeared in Hot Rod Magazine in 1960 and was followed shortly by a Willys gasser. His first dragster was in partnership with Joel Purcell in the early ‘60s. He then joined “Stump” Davis and fellow honoree Don Moody when their Oldsmobile was replaced with the blown-Chrysler from Doc Magan’s “Golden Thing” drag boat. Next was an early Woody Gilmore chassis for the team of Broussard, Purcell, Davis and Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen. The Adams and McEwen “Shark car” was re-worked by Kent Fuller into the Broussard, Garrison, Davis and Ongais “Mangler” which raced successfully through the ’65 World Finals in Tulsa. Shortly thereafter, Roland Leong asked Danny to join the Hawaiian crew which he was part of for several years including racing the 426 Hemi-powered “Hawaiian Two” driven by Mike Sorokin.




 Don Moody

Don Moody first came to notoriety at the wheel of the Davis and Moody dragster that won Top Eliminator honors at Lions Drag Strip an incredible eight weeks in a row. In November 1962 Moody became the first to run a seven second e.t. at Pomona. He moved on to the Fuller, Zeuschel and Moody Top Fuel dragster until a serious crash at Lions in August 1964 put a temporary halt to his driving career. In the early ‘70s while working as general manager at Engle Cams, he returned to the wheel running low 6’s in the Cerny, Lins and Moody dragster. At the ’72 Supernationals at Ontario driving the Walton, Cerny and Moody rear engine machine, he was narrowly beaten into the 5-second bracket by Mike Snively’s 5.97, but won the event with a 5.91. During that season he went from 6.37 with a 392 Chrysler to a 5.91 with a 426 in less than a year’s time and won the $25,000 PRA Challenge in Tulsa. He later left Engle and operated Traco Racing Engines until his retirement and move to Thailand.



 Steve Reyes

Steve Reyes went from being a 15-yr-old fan with an 8mm movie camera to perhaps the best known photographer in the history of drag racing. He began his career at Fremont Drag Strip near his Oakland home. In the beginning he sold prints to the racers, with an occasional submission to Drag News. In 1965 he sent photos of the March Meet to Drag Racing and Drag Strip magazines and his career was off and running. In 1967 he became NHRA’s Division 7 photographer and in 1970 moved to Los Angeles. Promotional work for Revell and Mattel led to a full time job with Argus Publishers in late 1973 where he did 70% of the cover photography and 85% of the inside color. After twenty years he returned to freelancing. The versatile Reyes branched out into shooting the National Hockey League as he continued to supply material to numerous automotive titles. He is now semi-retired living in Florida and has done a series of popular books featuring some of his greatest images.




 Jet Car Bob Smith

“Jet Car Bob” Smith began his drag racing career at the wheel of the Masters and Richter Olds-powered gasser at Fremont Raceway. He then moved on to Sid Waterman’s Chevy-powered gas dragster, Tom Prufer’s “Power King” fuel dragster and back to Waterman’s fuel car. He briefly drove a fuel dragster for Romeo Palamides until Romeo asked him to drive his “Untouchable” jet dragster. They toured the country for several years as one of the most popular exhibition attractions in drag racing, match racing fuel dragsters and other jets. Between bookings he continued to be a journeyman driver, behind the wheel of as many as three gas or fuel dragsters at one meet. Although he made hundreds of flawless passes, a series of spectacular accidents left him battered and broken. When asked why he got back in the jet after a particularly nasty crash, he replied “To pay the hospital bills for the last one!”




 Walt Stevens
Walt Stevens
came out of that hot bed of drag racing talent on the west side of L.A. that included stars like Leonard Harris, Mickey Brown, Gene Adams and Craig Breedlove. In the mid-‘60s he was the original driver of the Childs and Albert “Addict” fuel dragster, shared driving chores on the experimental rear-engine “Piranha” with Connie Swingle, and drove Dick Stahl’s Hemi-Ford AA/FA roadster. In 1969-’70 he drove Jack McCloud’s “Poachers” Top Fuel car, one of the last successful front engine fuelers. He switched to Top Gas and in the last year of the category won the Winternationals driving Ken Theiss’ Chevy and Chrysler-powered “Odd Couple” dragster. He serves on the crew of the 2008 Heritage Series champion High Speed Motorsports Nostalgia Top Fuel dragster driven by Troy Green and enjoys taking the wheel of his former ride the “Poachers” dragster for Cacklefest events.


The 18th annual California Hot Rod Reunion, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, Oct. 16-18 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., is a 3-day festival of speed, hot rods and American automotive enthusiasm.  It’s also the season finale of the NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage nostalgia drag racing series.

Produced by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, and located in Pomona, Calif., the Reunion is part of the museum’s “living history” philosophy, which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture. 

Unique among motorsports events, the Reunion honors some of the top names in hot rodding from the past and features a fabulous array of cool drag cars, street rods and customs of the historic and present-day hot rod eras.

Those purchasing their credentials at least three weeks before the event receive significant added value including a “goodie” bag, Reunion program, commemorative dash plaque and a colorful and collectible plastic souvenir credential.  Three-day credentials ($55 each) are available by calling 800/884-NHRA (6472) or by visiting the Museum’s Store Website (http://museum.nhra.com).  Auto Club members receive a $5 discount off Adult credential prices (limit of 4 credentials).

Daily general admission tickets/pit passes will be available at Auto Club Famoso Raceway gate, (www.famosoraceway.com). Cost per person: Friday, $20; Saturday, $20; Sunday, $15.  Children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Auto Club discount is also available at the gate: $2 off Friday and Saturday and, $1 off Sunday.

The Reunion features a wide variety of activities and events, including:

  • NHRA vintage drag racing, featuring some the sport’s most famous and historic cars and drivers, racing in such classes at Nostalgia Top Fuel, Funny Car, Fuel Altereds, Supercharged Gassers, Classic Super Stock, Hot Rods and others. It’s the grand finale of the NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Series.
  • Hundreds of gleaming pre-1972 hot rods, street rods, custom cars, rat rods, classics and muscle cars.  Memory Lane” will have a display of nostalgic race cars. The Justice Bros. Spotlight Award will fall on the team of the Stone, Woods & Cook.
  • California Hot Rod Reunion Reception, held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bakersfield, Fri., Oct. 16, from 7 p.m.- 10 p.m. Open to everyone at no charge, it’s a tribute to Reunion Honorees including Grand Marshal Jess Tyree. The reception offers a chance for fans to meet some of drag racing’s heroes.
  • Cacklefest on Saturday evening, where nitro-burning historic, front-engine top-fuel dragsters and other classic race cars are push started just like in the “old days.”
  • The Swap meet and Reunion Midway filled with hot rod and automotive related vendors. Something for everyone!

Information, including a full activities schedule, entry forms and tickets, is available through the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at http://museum.nhra.com or call the California Hot Rod Reunion Info Line at 909-622-8562. Requests can be emailed to themuseum@nhra.com.

 Proceeds of the California Hot Rod Reunion benefit the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. Founded in 1998 and named for the founder of the National Hot Rod Association, the Parks Museum, presented by Automobile Club of Southern California houses the very roots of hot rodding. Scores of famous vehicles spanning American motorsports history are on display, including winning cars representing 50 years of drag racing, dry lakes and salt-flat racers, oval track challengers and exhibits describing their colorful backgrounds.

                The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., PST. Current NHRA members are admitted free and Auto Club members enjoy a $2 discount. Admission for non-members is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors 60 and older, $5 for juniors six through 15, and free for children under the age of five. The Museum is also available for special group tours. The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Ave. in Pomona. For further information on special exhibits, museum events or directions, call 909/622-2133 or visit http://museum.nhra.com.


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