2007 Memphis Rodders Reunion Largest Ever

The 2007 Memphis Rodders Reunion was a great time as always, but this year the reunion saw the largest crowd of guests to ever attend the annual event. Originally conceived as a reunion of surviving members of the Memphis Rodders car club, the event was soon opened to others who found the history of the club to be of interest. This year, 375 people came to the reunion and broke all previous attendance records. Although the club is no longer active, the reunion has taken on a life of it's own as an eagerly anticipated celebration of what the Memphis Rodders achieved, and of what hot rodding has become. A virtual who's who of Memphis rodding and racing history is always present at this event, and this year was no exception.

To see evidence of the cross generational appeal of hot rodding culture, one need look no further than the recent restoration of Don Brasfield's "old" 1936 Ford coupe. This car has a storied history all it's own, and has been painstakingly restored with a few subtle refinements by Steve Legens of Legens Hot Rods. It's now Steve's personal hot rod, but both Steve and Don were present at the reunion and everyone was impressed with the quality of the restoration, and with the original ideas Don used when he created this stunner some 48 years ago. A big thanks to Steve for bringing this red beauty in from Martin TN for everyone to enjoy.

Former Memphis Rodders vice president Jim Russell brought this seriously big 1934 Chrysler sedan out for the display. Jim raced at the Halls airstrip drags, and was the flagman at Lakeland Raceway before moving away to Lansing Michigan and taking a job with General Motors. He's back in our neck of the woods now, living in Arkansas. I first saw this car on the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour during the summer, so it's a driver. This cruiser even has a look-alike tag along trailer, just in case there's not enough room inside the car!

The highlight of the evening was the appearance of a legendary funny car and it's equally legendary Memphis based driver. As noted in a previous post, Roland Leong's first 'Hawaiian' funny car has recently received a complete restoration by Ted Guth in Minnesota. Ted was kind enough to tow the fabled flopper to Memphis for this years reunion, and Larry Reyes was on hand to visit with anyone and everyone who recalled his days as the driver of this once feared drag racing icon. Larry also addressed the assembled crowd and expressed appreciation for the cars restoration, which has given him occasion to appear with the car at both the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion, and at the National Hot Rod Reunion to enthusiastic drag racing fans nationwide.

Further tribute to Larry was presented as a stellar multimedia video presentation, which was prepared by none other than noted fine art photographer John Sexton. John recounted his long standing personal relationship with Larry, and explained how that relationship contributed to his life's work as a photographic artist. It's an amazing story and everyone in the house was focused on the presentation as John explained it all and chronicled the history of the 'Hawaiian' via a series of still photographs and video footage.

Lastly, as is the custom when a nitro burner is present, the 'Hawaiian' was wheeled outside into the cool night air and fired up for a solo "cackle" session. Ted Guth and Bill Taylor handled start up duties, While a virtual army of fuel racing experience stood by if additional help was needed. The big blown Dodge was a little contrary at first, but the presence of Larry Reyes, Preston Davis, Ray Godman, Gary Henderson, Clay Millican, Lance Larsen, and Johnny West put the hex on the Hemi and it fired up with a resounding bark. It sounded as mean as the 'Hawaiian's' reputation would deserve. Larry's grandson Langdon was the lucky occupant of the hot seat, something the 16 year old should remember for years to come.

Go to the Reunion Photos section to see more from the evening, and stay tuned to this website for updates on the donation raised for the Shriner's Burn Transportation Fund.