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Fontana 2008 Super Chevy Show - Flippin' Out In Fontana

Super Chevy Returns To Southern California With A Vengeance

By Mike Harrington, Photography by Mike Harrington

Don't Believe What You See On Your TV.The talking heads and political doomsday soothsayers are akin to maddened prophets wandering the deserts seeking the four horsemen of the apocalypse. They proclaim economic depression and recession and turn it into obsession. The evidence from the Fontana Super Chevy show stands defiantly in the face of their predictions. This year, there were a total of 454 registered racers running down the track. That number was 100 more cars than last year.

Let us digest this for just a minute. One hundred more racers this year than last year, a hundred more cars in a region they claim is one of the hardest hit in this supposed recession. Many of us know racing is not atop the list of affordable sports to enter into. There were 454 cars and crews spending money on fuel, and probably lots of beer, competing against each other and having fun. (Well, maybe the Nova driver, who spilled transmission fluid down the entire length of the track, shutting it down for well over an hour didn't have so much fun once people caught up with him, but I digress.)

As for the car show side of things, it was OK. When the rain clouds rolled in Sunday, many California car owners ran for cover. There were dozens of hardboiled owners who braved the ferocious two-minute drizzle that quickly blew away and instead enjoyed the unusually cool air that day. Still, an additional 37 vehicles showed up on Super Chevy Sunday despite the morning showers. For those who had to wait in the chaotic two-hour-long line to get into the gate, we're working to change that next year so everyone can be in place in a timely manner.

Typical of Southern California, though, the show cars were exemplary with the kind of attention to detail West Coast Chevys are known for. In the Gold Class was a '67 Chevy Nova, as beautiful a custom as we've seen, but it was powered by a Northstar V-8. Can you feature a car in SUPER CHEVY that's not Chevy powered? What do you think?

Also on hand was a Chevrolet Hydrogen Fuel Cell Equinox, courtesy of General Motors. Editor Jim Campisano got a turn behind the wheel and reports that it was near silent inside. "Except for the fact that it burns no fossil fuels and makes no noise under acceleration except for a muted turbo-like whine, it felt like a regular Equinox," he said. "Very interesting, but this type of vehicle is still 10 years down the road from an infrastructure standpoint. But the concept is intriguing."

Chris Wilson Russell, CA '62 Nova
Jack Brackett Redding, CA '62 Impala
Sharon & Gerry Durnall Granada Hills, CA '61 Bel Air
Dave Lindsey Lake Forest, CA '66 Chevelle
Steve Poset Corona, CA '67 Chevelle
Mark Protheno Whittier, CA '57 Bel Air
Jim Ayach Shadow Hills, CA '69 Camaro
Marcellino Richarte Castaic, CA '69 Camaro
G. Paul Powell Upland, CA '54 Corvette
Jeff Huelster Monrovia, CA '69 Camaro

Lastly, we come to our third and final True Street participant, Jeff Hightower in his '66 Chevelle. Jeff ran an average time of 12.715. Speaking of True Street: What happened to the rest of California? Only three cars vs. 30 in Baton Rouge? I thought California was the mecca of hot rodding? Having grown up in California and lived here a large part of my life, I really was rooting that California Chevy owners would prove their salt.

This Chevy Sedan owned by Ricky Olivera had to be the most unusual vehicle at the whole show. The body of the vehicle looks nearly unchanged since the 1930s, and Ricky managed to stuff a 572 between the framerails. Rick told us that his father raced it back in the day and now he is campaigning. Now this is the real definition of hot rod. We gave him an Editor's Choice award.

The crowd seems to like the Chicken vs. the Mouse and is giving them the Caesar thumbs-up.

"Here I come to save the day." Mighty Mouse and a Thunder Chicken both take flight right off the launch line. Mighty Mouse vs. The Thunder Chicken...hmm...sounds like it could be a movie.

Meanwhile, back on the car show side, we spotted this magnificent '61 Impala SS. The only thing I would change on this car is the name on the title!

Marcellino Richarte had this super clean and beautiful Fathom Green '69 Camaro. How come nobody paints their Camaros this color? Marcellino did, and that is why we gave him an Editor's Choice award.

Ron Hawk had a beautiful '57 Chevy drag car. It looked like a stock Bel Air, minus the wheels and tires, so we just had to give him an Editor's Choice award.

Another that received an award was this historic '57 Chevy owned by Mark Protheno. This vehicle ran at Lions Drag Strip, Pomona and other legendary California tracks, as well as running out on the Bonneville Salt Flats and El Mirage back in the 1960s. He's got all the timing tags and timeslips to prove it, too.

Ron Hawk Lebec, CA '57 Bel Air
Jim DeLorenzo Riverside, CA '69 Nova
Dennis Jauregui Imperial Beach, CA '55 Bel Air
Jim Basset California '69 Camaro
Sam Robinson III Ontario, CA '57 Pickup
Ricky Olivera Cypress, CA '32 Chevy
William Roebuck Gardena, CA '67 Nova
Doug Watt San Juan Capistrano, CA '69 Nova
Jeff Hightower Covina, CA '66 Chevelle
Diane Graham Lake View Terrace, CA '71 Nova

ProCharger Bracket 1 BrawlWinner Doug Crumlich

JEGS Bracket 2 BattleWinner CW Hoeffer

NitroPlate DOT Street FightWinner Mike Nordahl

Even a new Chevy Malibu Hybrid attracted some attention during the show. It seems that the miserable CAFE standard of 35 mpg is going to put a big squeeze on the future of GM performance cars. More of these hybrids will have to be on the road if the new Camaro and Corvette are to survive.

After the rains, everything dried up and it was back to business as usual for the car show.

And then came that furious drizzle that was mentioned earlier. Michael Gregorich was one of the hardboiled vehicle owners we spoke of-he even left his hood open during the rain. Way to go, Mike.

Look familiar? Doug Watt and his '69 Yenko clone were featured in our '08 Nova special issue and he, too, received an award for drag racing his car. It's very cool to see a nice vehicle being raced and then street driven by the owner.

Here is another vehicle that is attempting to please the smog Nazis, a smogless hydrogen car that emits only water vapor. It probably won't be long before the greenies complain that the humidity levels around the planet are rising due to the H20 emissions of the hydrogen cars. In the meantime, Chevy and GM will try and comply with the new standards. It's kind of like the 1970s again, sky-high fuel costs and new government laws that legislate vehicle emissions and mpg; hopefully, we will never see gas lines again.

How often do you see a convertible '61 Bel Air? We gave Sharon and Gary Durnall an award for having a gorgeous car that we don't see much of.

Who doesn't love a wheels-up shot? They terrify, satisfy and mystify the viewer from the grandstands.

Check out this beautiful two-tone '67 Nova. Willie Roe launches off the line and is dialed-in at 9.45. It looks like after the race Willie can pull the Nova over to the car show side and win an award for best paint. We didn't wait for that to happen, so we gave him an Editor's Choice drag race award.

Diane Branham was pretty in pink with her black '71 Nova with pink stripes on her hood and her jacket. This Nova had such great bodywork and design we gave Diane an Editor's Choice drag award.

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By Mike Harrington
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