Photography by Gerry Burger, Robert McGaffin
Video by John Wilcox
In its second year the Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals hosted by the American Tri-Five Association at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky set an entry record with 2,214 participants and a very large spectator crowd. Also throw in 50-plus manufacturers, a swap meet and lots of goings on and you have one heck of an event. If you are into 1955, 1956, or 1957 Chevys whether it be car, truck or Corvette this is the place to be for the two-day show that runs Friday and Saturday.
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Beech Bend is an iconic track in the world of drag racing and the town of Bowling Green is an outstanding area. The NHRA Hot Rod Reunion and the Holley LS Fest are two additional events held at this famous of tracks and both have and continue to enjoy tremendous success. Both events have grown and prospered at this well maintained and heavily shaded venue for years.
The drag racing has already started hot and heavy with pairs of cars romping down the ¼ miles one immediately after the other. Later today the pro cars will be out and that should prove to be truly fun. Of course, all of the Tri-Five owners with projects back home in the garage are already out at the swap meet seeing just what they can find. But parts chasing doesn’t stop there in only its second year the vendors area has 50-plus manufacturers catering to every need a hot rodder could possible need or lust after for current and future projects.
The Holley Performance Products sponsored drag racing that consisted of heads up, staggered starts, and exhibition racing with side by side times in the high 6s made for lots of excitement.
To this there will be a Lokar Performance Products Car Show, Speedway Motors Gasser Gathering, and to this throw in a Tri-Five swap meet and you have the makings of one hell of an event.
Any Tri-Five event will never be complete without a selection of gassers…the 1955, 1956, and the 1957 Chevy was meant to be a gasser…it’s a natural look. Such is the case at this year’s Danchuk Tri-Five Nationals And the best place to see these go-fast hot rods is the Gasser Corral sponsored by Speedway Motors.
The Gasser Corral is home to many of the gassers at the Tri-Five Nats but the fact is you have to walk the grounds of Beech Bend to find them all. And, of course, there’s a large complement of these nose high, monster motor, big tire thumpers making the rounds down the dragstrip one ¼-mile at a time. You want to see gassers in action then make sure to park yourself under the covered bleachers here at the track…because they are all going to come by at some point in time.
You know you’ve found the gasser enclave when you note the absence of the front bumper, the fenderwell headers, the straight axle (most of the time), the colored (and probably Plexiglas rear quarter windows), there’s an unmistakable look that every gasser has and it’s addicting to those of us that thoroughly enjoy the roar of a powerful big-inch V-8.
While one can find every imaginable motor under the hood of a Tri-Five the fact is gassers love the vintage bent V-8 the best. Virtually all of the gassers here this weekend had an old-time small-block or big-block Chevy topped with multiple carbs resting on a tunnel ram, or maybe a blower or two could be seen, and (my favorite) a set of really tall and straight injector stacks. Now that’s what a gasser was meant to have sticking through the hood.
Watching the burnouts was fun enough but to see these nose-high hot rods make a 10-second pass down a sticky two-lane piece of asphalt is something to behold. Coming hard off the line, rising up onto the wheelie bars, all torqued out of shape with the driver front wheel about a foot and a half in the air while the passenger side supplies just barely enough steering “traction” it’s a sight. Ah, those fenderwell headers are one more distinctive gasser trait that makes the personality of these Tri-Five Chevys oh so unmistakable.
To this there was nighttime drag racing on Saturday and a fireworks show. That’s a lot of entertainment crowded into a two-day event. Even Mother Nature cooperated…well almost…there was a bit of rain come Saturday mid-morning but it cleared off and cooler climes were welcomed and enjoyed for the rest of the day.