Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Barona Antique Drags / Just Ol' Americana

Wandering down the staging lane, he was spotted a few steps ahead along with his '30 five window Ford, chopped, channeled, flat-headed with Navarro emblazoned castings, and two 97 Strombergs standing attention over top. The "newsboy" cap on his head, cocked to one side said he was of a younger set. Approaching, I said, "Badass car dude."  He replied, "It's not mine, I'm just drivin' it today." Lucky guy, I thought. While examining his ride with the sun high in the sky illuminating every juicy bit, I noticed "Lefty's Speed Shop" hand lettered and a lemon yellow "Bean Bandit" club decal stuck on the polished rear sheet metal.

Back in the day, the Bean Bandit's home track was a strip south of San Diego on Paradise Mesa. Years before it had been used as the Paradise Mesa Airstrip. The Bean Bandit's then President Mike Nagem got together with the San Diego Timing Association and went to the property owner Henry Adams and convinced him to create a safe place for racers to show what they had. He agreed, and with the help of the Bean Bandits, the SDTA and local law enforcement they organized the country's first legal drag strip in 1951, which lasted until 1958. Many years have since passed. 

"Bean Bandits?" I queried. He said, yeah it's Julio Hernandez' car. We struck up a conversation about the "Bean Bandits" and that my wife's mother had been a member back in the '50s. He nodded his approval. Nice guy, that Lance Conklin, and getting to race the '30...was plain bitchen!

Just then, his lane of competitors was called to order, as he wedged himself into the chopped top coupe and fired up the V-8 it coughed, then barked to life. With everyone's eyes glued, the '30 rolled up to do it's burnout. Smoke streamed up from the skinny white walls as he launched forward. It was an awesome sight. Another day of just ol' Americana'.
Barona Antigue Drags, the Julio Hernandez bitchen '30 Ford. Image © John Straub

Barona Antique Drags, Strombergs' standing tall. Image © John Straub
Barona Antique Drags, Lance wedged in for the ride. Image © John Straub
Barona Antique Drags, nothing like the sound of a Flathead. Image © John Straub
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1 comment:

  1. Bob emailed: John ,
    Brings back some real memories, in the late 50's I was doing some drag racing at Paradise Mesa and on this day I had beaten every thing in my class(think it was C street) anyhow was driving a HOT but stock 54' Chevy, and beat the winner of the next class too a V8 , so my final run was to be against the top winner of the day. We'll it turned out to be the BeanBandits dragster, they spotted me half the quarter and still blew my socks off! Best, Bob