I just want to do hot rod things with my hot rod friends. No, I HAVE to do hot rod things and I’m lucky enough to have some friends that are of the same affliction.
I mean, nobody WANTS to drive a 700 mile round trip in some ditch heap that probably tops out at 55, to go hang out in a park,dressed in your Grandad’s clothes. But something compels you to do it…and when you get there, you find a handful of other like minded weirdos who have the same compulsion.
After it’s over you spend the next two weeks looking at the pictures unable to hide your excitement for the next time you get to do the same thing. Even the youngest hot rodders are too old to change now. Anyway, we couldn’t. Even if we wanted to.
After we were done Cruisin’ Paso, The Cars had all been blessed, and the Primer had been painted over we still kept going. And each time the next event got a little better…But a little smaller. That’s what separated the curious from the infected.
No exception to this are my brothers in the Gaters. And this has been true for literal generations.
The Gaters were a bunch of guys from South Gate California…(Hence the name Gaters. it’s a pun. That’s why we spell it with an E) who, in 1946 got accepted into the SCTA to race at the lakes. Among their defining moments were setting some early records. Having the car on the cover of the first Hot Rod Magazine, and being the home club of Wally Parks’ kid brother, Kenny who by my estimation inherited ALL of the cool genes in the Parks family. In this group was also Ray Pile and Ken Eichert…They were cousins, and hot rodders…That liked to do hot rod things. Specifically, in a banger powered Model A Roadster with a cartoonish side exhaust.
Fast forward 60 years to me, a hot rodder just wanting to do hot rod things. I had a pile of parts in my driveway that were going to someday resemble a period perfect lakes roadster.
I was at work one day and an obnoxiously loud Model A Roadster pulled through. It was primered and kinda looked like it had been pulled out of an attic. But it had that soul to it. I noticed the Auburn dash and the timing tag riveted to it and realized it was a real deal old hot rod...if a car can have a soul, this one did. The owner's name is Chris. He’s a big happy guy, But can you blame him? Look at that car! Or maybe it’s the exhaust fumes, or the tinnitus from the open header that was on the car at the time. Needless to say, we became friends. The car though… It’s the same car that those cousins I mentioned earlier would drive all the way out to El Mirage, Harpers, Cuddeback etc… to do hot rod things in the ‘40s.
It had been disassembled when, as they say “life happened” in the early ‘50s and it stayed that way until Chris got it back together almost 60 years later.
That’s a story for another episode and if you want to hear all of the details we’ll be happy to spill them all some other time.
After a few years of going far and wide to the less publicized hot rod happenings and trying to sort all of the Grampa ghosts out of the Pyle Special, life happened for us too. The spirit of the Gaters from South Gate was ever present even as projects got sold, people moved, had kids etc.…the same thing that happened to the original club after the Santa Ana drags opened.
Things went dormant for the Gaters. But as time progressed, we added new friends who just wanted to….you get it.
A few years ago, looking around at our friends and our stalled projects we got back on it. Actually, I shanghaied these dopes into going full throttle on this club revival idea. This time giving it the life it deserved.
Starting with Chris’ roadster, “The Pyle Special” bringing it back to its 1947 Glory. Then our club brother Randy Pierson (who was almost single handedly responsible for the Pyle Special’s restoration) set to work on a custom-fabbed streamliner that was like a racecar would have built in the late ‘40s period and got that out to race at the RPM nationals.
The Gaters don’t live in South Gate anymore… we’re all over! We’ve even got a guy in Australia! Coffee cruises and photo ops in front of old gas stations are just not in the cards for us. Though, our man, Danny runs Valley Cruise Night, which is something you should check out if you ever get the chance.
We have to plan get togethers and our purpose is to make a spectacle. Not like a drunk white girl at a late night taco stand kinda spectacle but, a b
We really want this “hobby” to live…I’m not going to sit here and pretend that this is some altruistic effort to save hot rodding. Really, we just want to feed the compulsion and we know we’re in good company.
After participating in what the mainstream automotive world calls “lifestyle” events. We’re on the hunt for opportunities. A “lifestyle” drag race is just the sort of thing we can all get behind and if we can open it up to some of the cars that don’t have a class at some of the other races then even better!
Enter Street Legal Dragway and Andy Marocco. Street Legal Dragway was opened up about two months ago at the Perris Fairgrounds. Right next to one of the only dirt tracks around Southern California. Not too far from L.A., Orange County, San Diego and Riverside The purpose of this track was to offer a Friday night place for street racers to stay out of trouble and test their cars with some real timing equipment and safety measures.
But whatever, I mean…You had me at Dragstrip! Off I went To the Stret Legal Drags one Friday night to see if this guy had an appetite for 70 year old heaps leaking 40 weight and doing some wicked one wheel burnouts at his brand new track. I was ready to plead my case and explain hot rod history in a 10 second elevator pitch to what I assumed would be a TV reality show host and I’d get to told to kick rocks or that it would cost half the national debt.
None of that happened. Andy Marocco gets it. Once I explained the vision he said “Yeah! That sounds like a lot of fun!” “Let’s try it!”
Street Legal Dragway put the dollar figure out there of what it costs to operate the track for a day. This includes the insurance that they carry, the officials that they employ, dealing with the politics. And I’ll tell you after learning the financial side of some of these other events I’d say it’s a bargain. So, an agreement was struck, and Bias Ply Drags was born.
BIAS PLY DRAGS!
Really, you could probably brain dump anything you’ve heard up to this point because what’s important here is Bias Ply Drags and Street legal Dragway.
Bias Ply Drags is an event that’s open to pre 1960 Hot Rods, Customs and Stock Cars. Just like hometown drags might have been on any given Sunday in So. Cal. In the ‘50s.
This is for the whole group to participate in. All my friends with Shoebox Fords and ’55 Chevies look pretty sitting under the wing of a DC-3, but those cars want to run too! And why shouldn’t they? Well, Here it is! You’ve been heard! So go register at Streetlegaldragway.com!
We didn’t want to waste time so the date we got was Dec. 9th 2023. That means it’s right around the corner! Gates are going to open at around 12:30pm. That’s the time the fairgrounds could accommodate us and, we’ll take it.
The original idea was to have 5 classes like you see in the early 50s. Stock, Stock Modified, Modified Roadster, Competition and Special but with cars registering at this point every two hours we’re going to be careful to make sure that the serious racers get the most for their money. We want to make for damnsure the folks who just want the experience of a really great time get that too so, we’ll announce more details once the field of cars flushes out.
Gaters is hosting this but, the event belongs to all of us. You’re actually responsible for how much fun you can have. Yeah we know the track is short…so is…never mind.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Also, I guarantee the last car show you went to you probably just stood around or wandered around in a pasture getting eaten by bugs. Here, you get to use your machine.
Cars must be in safe working order. Functioning brakes, Secure battery, all lug nuts, overflow catch can, seat belts, two throttle return springs, cotter pins in castleated nuts, safety hubs or drum retainers on keyed axles, tires in good condition, no major leaks, fire extinguisher within reach of driver, open car drivers must wear a helmet.
NO, YOU DON’T HAVE TO RUN BIAS PLIES ONLY. That was a name we came up with to let the “Off topic” cars this event wasn’t for them.
We don’t care how you spell Custom. They are allowed.
This is a bare bones event and a down and dirty real good time. No bands or pinup contests...at least not this one. We’ll have some food trucks, and maybe a t-shirt stand but hey! If you have an idea for extra funtivities and think you can pull it off by Dec. 9th we’re ready to hear it!
Not everybody is a racecar driver...we get it! That’s why we have an option to come on out and park trackside… we’ll even let a few up to ’64 cruisers in for that. There’s going to be great photo ops!
The cost is $60 to race or show. $20 to walk in and watch.
We always talk about how we need more events and how we’re worried that the hobby won’t survive. Now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Street Legal Dragway is ready for us to prove how much we mean what we say. The deal is that we need 75 cars to enter to prove that we love hot rodding and to cement a second event and even open a class of hot rods on the regular Friday nights. At the time of writing this we’re halfway there. How bad do you want it? Is it worth $60?
Go to Streetlegaldragway.com and click on the Gaters Bias Ply Drags link to get registered. Send us an email at Gaters.firstname.lastname@example.org with a cool photo of your car so that we can post it on the biasply.dragrace Instagram and send your race info after you’ve paid to enter.
Come out Dec 9th to the Bias Ply Drags and support a hot rod event all it’s own.
What else are you doing that day? Taking your Mom to the Nutcracker Ballet?
UPDATE: After the race, I was sent this follow up from the event organizers:
"We said we were going to do hot rod things and did we ever? December 9th 2023 we held the first Bias Ply Drags. On the day of the event, the Santa Ana winds showed up.
It was cold, It was windy, we got started later than we wanted to and the timing system failed to cooperate most of the night and that’s just a few of the issues we had. However, For a brand new event at a brand new track it was a success. Everyone that came out proved that they want to get their cars out and use them.
We had 90 cars come out to the event which is a standing track record. Thanks to everyone that helped and offered to help. This event is for us by us and you did not disappoint! Thanks Jake from the Iron and Steele podcast for helping us spread the word and Special thanks to Rickey Hartman who got us the light towers to run at night.
I’m hesitant to thank others because I don’t want to accidentally leave someone out but know that if you were present, we are grateful. The concept has been proven and we WILL do another one. Ideally on a summer night this time, so stay tuned!
In the meantime get your pre ’60 heaps tuned up for the next Bias Ply Drags."