Gassers 5 – Celebrating those glorious Gassers
Gassers occupy a big part of drag racing history. While So-Cal was the home of America’s most popular fuel teams, the Midwest was Gasser territory back in the day although there were several notable teams in So-Cal’s fertile fuel grounds. With nostalgia so popular in these ultra-modern times, both vintage racers and street savvy hot rodders in and around Southern California have gone nuts for Gassers.
Revfest 5 celebrated these glorious Gassers of all genres. The Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, CA, was host site for the event. It’s a great facility and is home to nearly 150 vintage automobiles, and the collection is as diverse as you can get. They have everything from a 1928 Buick and a 1941 Packard convertible to a 1963 Studebaker Avanti to a 1970 Dodge Challenger. Located just a few blocks from Los Angeles International Airport, the ADM hosts specialty car shows throughout the year, but it was the 5th Annual RevFest with a spotlight on the Gassers that caught our attention.
From the late 1950s through the 1960s, Gassers were among the most popular cars to ever hit the quarter-mile. The class was originally called Gas Coupe and Sedan but the cars eventually became known as Gassers. They ran on gasoline rather than nitro and often had stripped-down interiors, fiberglass body panels, and Plexiglas windows to make them as light as possible. They featured hopped-up engines, straight axles, and raised front ends that helped transfer the weight to the rear wheels, often resulting in wheelstands when they left the line.
While Willys coupes and Tri-Five Chevys were some of the most popular body styles for the class, Anglias, Austins, Corvettes, and the Henry J were also prevalent. Over the years, the “Gasser Wars” gave rise to several rivalries, but none was bigger than “Big John” Mazmanian vs. Stone, Woods & Cook. If you paid to see these guys match race, you always got your money’s worth.
Nearly 25 Gassers with names like Fat Bastard, Orange Monster, Humble 2, Joint Venture, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and MadaGasser were on display outside the Automobile Driving Museum on August 25th, when fans of the class got an up-close and personal look at these wild machines.
Late in the afternoon, Ed “Isky” Iskenderian gave the owners a thumbs-up and said, “This will be a tribute for Tom ‘the Mongoose’ McEwen,” followed by the words that every motorsport fan loves to hear: “Start your engines!” Nearly all of the Gassers started up on cue and revved up their engines to the delight of the crowd.
RevFest 5 also featured a panel discussion with some of the greats who drove and built these beasts. On hand were Gasser legends “Bones” Balogh and Jerry Mallicoat, chassis builder Don Long, Top Gas driver Bob Muravez (aka Floyd Lippencott Jr.), and everybody’s favorite cam grinder, Ed Iskenderian. It was a great chance to reminisce about the good ol’ days and hear how it really was from those who were there. Throughout the day fans had the opportunity to get autographs from all of these drag racing legends.
While the show was geared toward Gassers, hot rods of all makes and models were welcomed, and they filled up the surrounding parking lots with colorful eye candy.
It was a great way to spend the afternoon and hear about the glory days of the Gasser class from some of those who lived and breathed it.