Pass the popcorn because it's showtime at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California. In conjunction with the Museum's latest exhibit, "60 Years of SO-CAL Speed," Alex Xydias, founder of the famed SO-CAL Speed Shop, is hosting three special Saturday matinees featuring vintage racing action he shot back in the 1950s and '60s. The first matinee, "The Hot Rod Story," is set for Sat., Feb. 25, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m., and includes historic drag racing footage. Other matinee dates are Mar. 18 (featuring Sebring footage) and Apr. 1 (Indy 500). Xydias and a special guest speaker will be on hand to talk about the films. A $20 admission fee includes popcorn and a soda. All proceeds benefit the Museum.
According to Tony Thacker, SO-CAL's vice president of marketing, "The Hot Rod Story" is filmed in sound and color and covers four decades in the growth of hot rodding. "It begins in the 1930s with extremely rare footage of hopped-up roadsters racing across the dry lake beds of southern California. The film depicts the explosion of competition after World War II when Alex opened the SO-CAL Speed Shop. He goes on to cover the launching of Hot Rod magazine, racing at Bonneville and the birth of drag racing.
With magazines spreading the word nationwide, the sport began to grow exponentially and Alex' film covers the first National drag meet in Great Bend, Kans., in 1955, the first Winternationals in Pomona and the Bakersfield Smoker's events, as well as the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis in 1963. Footage includes front-engine 'diggers' driven by the likes of "TV Tommy" Ivo, Don Garlits and Connie Kalitta. Cars featured include the Green Monster, Freight Train, plus Super Stockers like Color Me Gone and the Ramchargers."
The "60 Years of SO-CAL Speed" exhibit runs through Apr. 9, 2006 in the Museum's special exhibit hall and features several historic cars, including the flathead Mercury-powered SO-CAL Bellytank Lakester, the Haas Bonneville Roadster, SO-CAL Hiboy Roadster, SO-CAL Bonneville '34 Coupe, SO-CAL 'A' Drag Roadster, SO-CAL Pickup truck and the GM Ecotec Lakester.
The SO-CAL Speed Shop exhibit is the latest in a series of special Museum attractions which have included "Track Roadsters: The Road to Indy"; A Salute to Parnelli Jones; 100 Years of Ford Racing' and Edelbrock: A Performance Legacy.
Named for the founder of the National Hot Rod Association, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California houses the very roots of hot rodding. Scores of famous vehicles spanning American motorsports history are on display, including winning cars representing 50 years of drag racing, dry lakes and salt-flat racers, oval track challengers and exhibits describing their colorful backgrounds.
The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., PST. Current NHRA members are admitted free. Admission for non-members is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors 60 and older, $3 for juniors six through 15, and free for children under the age of five. The Museum is also available for private parties, meetings, corporate events, weddings and special group tours. The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Ave. in Pomona. For further information on special exhibits, museum events or directions, call 909/622-2133 or visit http://museum.nhra.com.