From left, Roland Leong, Ed “Ace” McCulloch, and Richard Tharp.

Driver Richard Tharp (left) and veteran journalist Dave Densmore. 

Former ”Ramchargers” driver, Merek Chertkow. 

Former NHRA and IHRA track manager Alan Miller (left), longtime NHRA employee Gene “Geno” Gastelum and Harley.


From left, photographers Dan Kaplan, Dave Wallace Jr., Tim Marshall, Jim White, Jon Asher, and Bob McClurg. 

Honorary Chief Announcer Jon “Thunder Lungs” Lundberg (left) and Event Announcer Mike English kept the fans informed. 

DRO photographers Jamie Shores-Fraijo and Tim Marshall.

Steve Gibbs with some members of the famous Bean Bandits car club. 

”TV Tommy” Ivo (left) was among the racers signing autographs for the fans.



Pictorial: Nitro Revival at Barona, California

Let Us Gather Together!


Photos by Tim Marshall and Jamie Shores-Fraijo


At what is probably the most remote drag strip in the world, a few diehard believers have pulled together something that makes no sense at all. A drag racers event at a drag strip, where there will be no racing. It is called the Nitro Revival and will bring together cars, drivers and fans, some of whom attended that first 1959 March Meet.


They will gather at a track that is just over 10 miles from the airport runway that was used by Wally Parks, grandfather of the sport of organized drag racing, along with engineer/scientist Otto Crocker, to test out distances necessary to have available for acceleration and stopping of cars running on a commonly available private surface, an airport runway. Crocker had developed timing equipment for timing cars making solo runs for speed contests at dry lakes. This equipment had never been used for timing cars racing side by side and Crocker and Parks wanted to find out if the whole concept of timing side by side runs and using an acceleration distance of ¼ mile could work and how much space was necessary to stop.


The airport was in the high desert town of Ramona, East and a little North of San Diego and this little remembered event was the beginning of Organized Drag Racing as we know it today. Crocker and Parks deemed it feasible and in slightly over a year Parks had fleshed out the whole plan. He created The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) as the umbrella organization and using his platform as editor of Hot Rod magazine promoted the concept of legal drag racing with a sanctioning body and members and rules, for safety and conduct. An informal drag strip on a San Diego area airport at Paradise Mesa, 30 miles south and a little west from Ramona was the second NHRA track to open, but Paradise Mesa had the distinction of having the very first elapsed time clocks as well as the original MPH-only clocks of Crocker’s dry lakes set-up.


This was the beginning of what became a nationally organized sport, with means to make performance timing uniform, thus national classes could be designed and national class records could be established and yearly nationwide gatherings could take place with all the cars competing on an even field with other cars from any state. This was the beginning of organized drag racing, everything else was experimentation.

By Ron Johnson



Steve Gibbs’ inaugural Nitro Revival was held Sept. 30 at the Barona Drags track in Barona, CA. Gibbs had been with the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage program for many years and after he left, was looking for another way to keep his hand in drag racing and get together with racers and friends.


Gibbs, along with his daughter, Cindy, Ron Johnson, and Don Ewald worked together to put on the ultimate nostalgia event. It was designed to gather together racers, innovators, media people, and personalities that have made drag racing what it is today.


Here is a look at the cars and people that came to Barona to honor the past…and just have a good time.

Steve Gibbs with Miss Linda Vaughn. 

Elly Stafford drove the Killer Crower dragster. Bruce Crower provided a 3,000 sq. ft. hospitality area. 

Ron and daughter Connie Johnson helped put the gathering together.

From left, Media Director Don Ewald, Don Long and Leroy “Doc” Hales of “Pete’s Little Demon.” 




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