Blast from the past invades Thunder Valley June 13th

(BMS) -- BRISTOL, Tenn. (Wednesday, June 10, 2009)- A trip back in time awaits anyone who visits the June 13 Blast from the Past presented by Ferguson Enterprises at Bristol Dragway.

Thunder Valley returns to its early years with front-engine dragsters, nostalgia funny cars and even “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and his famous Swamp Rat dragsters.

History will be repeated at one of the world’s most famous dragstrips with the same exciting racing action that has always highlighted events in Thunder Valley.

While known for his success as a team owner in NASCAR, Jack Roush once was known for making cars go very fast in a straight line.

In the late '60s, Roush, a Ford engineer at the time, teamed with another Ford employee, Wayne Gapp, to create the famous “Tijuana Taxi.” The Taxi was a Boss 429-powered 1970 Pro Stock Ford Maverick which made its mark on tracks throughout the country.

During a recent trip to Bristol, Roush recalled the early days of Bristol Dragway.

“Thunder Valley has been one of the most exciting drag race tracks I’ve ever been to,” proclaimed Roush. “It feels like you’re racing up the valley, like you are racing uphill, but you aren’t. It’s just the topography.”

While Roush and his Tijuana Taxi will not be in Bristol for this drag racing event, he did shed a little light on one reason why the track may be so exciting.

“Don Nicholson [former NHRA Pro Stock racer] used to say you go faster at Bristol than at any other place in the country,” recalled Roush. “Even though there was some altitude, he always said it was all the trees around the place.

“The trees made all the oxygen and made the cars go faster,” Roush laughed. “Everyone I know was always excited to come to Bristol Dragway, and it is amazing after all these years that it is still one of the important venues.”

The Southern Slingshots, a group of nostalgic front engine dragsters, return to Thunder Valley and will provide the exciting racing Roush described. Spectators will be on the edge of their seats as these drivers wrestle their cars down Bristol Dragway.

A replica of Don Schumacher’s Wonder Wagon Funny Car will make runs; much like it did in Bristol during the 1970s. Greg Jacobsmeyer will bring his nostalgia Funny Car, the All-Star, to compete in a thrilling match-race against the legendary Wonder Wagon.

No vintage drag racing event is complete without the “father of drag racing.” “Big Daddy” Don Garlits will bring one of his famous “Swamp Rats” to Thunder Valley to show how much the cars have changed since the early days of the sport.

The DER Racing Series shares the stage on Saturday with the region’s best drag racers battling to become champion. Racer entry fees and purse information can be found on the Bristol Dragway website.

A vintage car show also takes place on Saturday with two classes highlighting several generations of automobile history. Registration takes place from 9 a.m. to noon. Judging begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. Cars will be placed in either the Pre-1979 or Post-1979 class. The entry fee is $20 for pre-registered participants or $25 day of the event. For more information or to register for the car show, please call (865) 804-6617.

Gates open at 10 a.m. on Saturday with time trials beginning at noon. Eliminations will follow. The slingshot dragsters make their first appearance at 5 p.m. The dragsters will run in companion with the vintage funny cars at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Spectator admission is $20 on Saturday. Children 12 and under are free.

The bracket machines take to the track once more on Sunday with gates opening at 9 a.m. and time trials rolling off at 10 a.m.

For more information about the Blast from the Past presented by Ferguson Enterprises, please call (423) 764-DRAG or visit

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  • by Jeff Gapp Location: Detroit, MI on Aug 31, 2009 at 10:32 AM
    The 'Tijuana Taxi' was Maverick powered by a small block Ford. This was done to take advantage of the weight breaks available to longer wheelbase vehicles at the time. A big block 429 would have pushed the car into a different weight break eliminating the advantage.


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