Inaugural RPM Nationals “You Asked For It” Drags
After more than a year in isolation, the hot rodding world was ready to get outside and have some fun. It was finally time to pull the cars out of the garage, fire them up and hit the road, and a new event in Southern California was the perfect opportunity for that.
Event organizers Justin Baas and Russ Hare have put on the RPM Nationals since 2017. The popular event, held at Santa Margarita Ranch on California’s central coast, restricts race entries to flathead V8’s and banger engines only. The duo took what they had learned from the RPM Nationals, listened to their critics, tweaked their rules and came up with a spinoff called the RPM “You Asked For It” Drags.
The event featured 1940 and earlier period-correct hot rods, but the rules here also allowed for early small block Chevys, Pontiac, Cadillac, Buick, Y-Block and Hemi power plants. Cars still had to run parts manufactured prior to 1964: no electronics, no billet, no disc brakes, no modern slicks…you get the picture. The goal was to create an event where old-school hot rods had the unique opportunity to go head to head on the track and have the pits full of cars we would have seen at drag strips back in the ’60s, and the event did just that.
Several rarely seen hot rods like “Squeak” Bell’s heavily chopped Tudor sedan, Jimmy White’s primered Hemi-powered Model A coupe and the 1932 Ted Wingate roadster, which is currently owned by Brandon Vega and appeared on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine in 1964, were all in the pits and there to race.
By late morning, roadsters, T-buckets, coupes and sedans had filled the lanes and it was time to stand on the gas. Pair after pair, the cars pulled to the line, the Christmas Tree flashed green and the cars screeched off the line. Painted, primered, rusted, chopped, channeled and flamed, the “You Asked For It Drags” had it all.
Vintage race cars, such as Pat Ganahl’s Ike Iacono GMC powered dragster and Tommy Osborne’s Dragmaster “Lucky One” digger, made exhibition passes during the day, reminding everyone what drag racing looked like during its golden era. After crossing the finish line, the cars returned to the pits via the scenic return road through the trees.
The event also featured a car show with traditional hot rods and customs as well as a swap meet with deals that were just too good to pass up. The day was filled with racing and reminiscing as old friends recalled the time they saw Don “the Snake” Prudhomme race Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen at Carlsbad, and countless other memories. But more importantly, the event was the first opportunity in a long, long time for most to get out and enjoy everything that hot rodding has to offer. You asked for it, but once you walked through the gate, you realized you got way more than you asked for.
Photos by Marc Gewertz