Shortly after 8:00 p.m. on November 23, 2006, Fred Totten, an original member of the Internet forum www.348-409.com, passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As a tribute to this honored member of their site, his friends and family decided to dedicate the forum's yearly reunion to Fred's memory.
What an honor it was, as many who attended the 1st Annual Fred Totten Memorial in northeastern Ohio considered this to be one of the largest gatherings of 409-equipped Chevrolets in the past 45 years. A total of 45 forum members brought their W-motor-equipped Biscaynes, Bel Airs, and Impalas to Thompson Raceway Park (TRP), about 45 minutes southeast of Cleveland, for three days of racing-on and off the track-and fellowship with other members of www.348-409.com. Any 348- or 409-equipped vehicle was welcome, and a variety of transplanted 409s showed up, including a beautiful wheelstanding Chevy II, and even a rear engine dragster.
Wheelstands, killer reaction times, and the best 60-foot times ever for the racers were commonplace, a testament to the condition of the track at TRP. Ken Edgar, owner of Thompson Raceway Park, told us they have spent a considerable amount of money to upgrade the starting line and shut-off areas to match their national-caliber dragstrip. The results showed as the competitors had to scramble to cope with the awesome traction available.
The date was chosen by the forum to occur in conjunction with the 8th annual Gasser Reunion. The Mid-America Willys Club claims to be the world's fastest car club, and based on the incredible show put on by the Chevy-powered gassers, its yearly reunion proved to be a fitting backdrop for the wheelstanding 409 Chevys of the www.348-409.com website. The United Manual Transmission Racers (UMTR for short) also joined the weekend with a points race that counted toward its regional championship. All three organizations put on a great show for the spectators.
The 409 match race in honor of Totten was held on Saturday afternoon, with 26 Chevys entered in two classes, HR-1 for W-powered vehicles running 10.99 seconds or faster and HR-2 for 11.00-second and up 409 cars. After four rounds, it was Barry Taylor from Garland, Texas, on top of the HR-1 bracket slated to meet Kevin McCauley of Burlington, Ontario, the winner through four rounds in the HR-2 class. They met up on Saturday evening for the 409 King-Of-The-Hill finale and it was Taylor who took home the overall trophy with a winning run of 9.70 seconds at 135 mph. All of the competitors should be commended as the fans were on their feet for the entire shootout reveling in these historic pavement pounders.
It was unanimous among the participants that this would be the first of many events to come for the www.348-409.com crew. With every powershift, launch, and 9-second pass, we couldn't help but think that Totten was looking down with a smile on his face.