2008 Memphis Rodders Reunion Recap

The 2008 edition of the Memphis Rodders Reunion is now history, but the evening should provide good memories for years to come, since it was once again an enjoyable gathering of the Memphis hot rod community, and a true reunion of Memphis' original hot rod club. Enthusiasts covering over sixty years of hot rodding and racing activity were on hand to share their experiences. Here... Arthur Trim, Marvin Carter,
Herb McCandless, Clay Millican, and Preston Davis swap stories during the presentation intermission.

As usual a select group of hot rods and race cars were displayed. A youthful perspective on tradition was this 1930 Ford Model A coupe belonging to 20 year old Kirby Kennedy, of nearby Selmer TN, who constructed this timeless rod while still in high school. The dove gray A bone is simple but beautifully executed throughout. The chopped and fenderless coupe on 32 frame rails features a duece grill shell, and a tri-carbed Ford Y-Block engine along with a brown leather interior that feels like a well oiled baseball glove. This one is a former
Rodder's Journal feature car... outstanding!

Another blast from the past was Larry Chambers' un-restored 1957 Chevrolet Jr. Stock drag racer which competed at NHRA meets throughout the mid to late 60's. Larry's 57 came complete with vintage decals, trophies, t-shirts, and jackets. Virtually a rolling museum of yesteryear drag racing.

At the opposite end of the spectrum to Larry's 57, was Bob Young's incredible 57 Bel Air Hardtop. Maybe the most perfect body and black paint job ever was complimented by a 502 big block Chevy engine, red leather interior, and polished American Torque Thrust wheels. Both the engine bay and the underpinnings of the car were as perfectly finished as the top side of this stunner, and not so much as a polishing mark could be seen in the paint.

Ted Guth was kind enough to return to the Reunion again this year, after bringing the restored
'Hawaiian' funny car in for display last year. This time, Ted brought along a rarely seen race car... The 1970 vintage GSTA Gopher Twin top gas dragster. The sight of two blown Hemi's in one race car is almost more than a common gearhead can process! Ted made the long tow from Minnesota just to support the reunion, so hats off to him for the effort.

Also making a long haul from Jefferson City MO, were John Troxel, and Chris Schneider. Here, the Mopar aficionados share war stories with drag racing legend Herb McCandless. John & Chris both campaign their own race cars, and Chris brought in his 1965 Plymouth Max Wedge nostalgia super stock racer for display. The duo are also the promoters of
The Muscle Car Reunion & Nostalgia Drags, held in St. Louis, and in Kansas City. Chris addressed the crowd with information about their growing nostalgia events, and answered questions all night long. Many thanks to them for making the trip to Memphis to attend.

Yet between admiring the cars, and the home cooking for everyone, this event was about people.
Larry Coleman and Bill Taylor were the honored guests for the evening, and there isn't any auto enthusiast in the Memphis area that hasn't benefitted from their involvement with drag racing or their business ventures. We spent months trying to edit their many interesting stories into a brief audio visual presentation before realizing that we would simply need to make a presentation for each of them to come close to covering the essentials. Virtually all of the over 400 attendees were focused on their stories, and gave both men a standing ovation at the conclusion of the video. Also adding to the evening was seeing many familiar faces in the audience, some for the first time. It's why we call it a reunion, when guests such as Sid Foster and Larry Arnold travel many miles to be in attendance. Foster served as the driver of the 'Coleman's Super Ford' funny car, and made his first Rodders Reunion appearance, traveling from his home in Louisiana. Arnold originally came to Memphis from Chicago to ply his trade as a driver in the developing Memphis funny car scene before eventually becoming the owner of the 'Kingfish' and winning the NHRA Supernationals in 1971. He later went on to shoe several west coast funny cars before retiring from the sport in California during the 70's.

Here, Larry Arnold reminisces with his old rival and funny car alumnus Larry Reyes. This was Arnold's first visit to the Rodders Reunion, and hopefully will not be his last. Also present at this year's reunion were drag racing notables
Ray Godman, Preston Davis, the aforementioned Larry Reyes, Herb McCandless, Gary Henderson, Amy Faulk, and Clay Millican to mix it up with other reunion attendees. It seemed that everywhere you turned, you could put a human face on the history of Memphis hot rodding, and drag racing.

This year, new reunion attendance records, and new found support from active Memphis area car clubs, will help bring the donation to the Shriner's Burn Transportation Fund to previously unheard of levels. In the above photo, Jack Mabry of the
Memphis Classic Chevy Club presents a sizable check to Larry Nolan to help further the cause. Also pitching in with a welcome donation were the members of the Memphis Street Rods. We will have a complete update of the annual Memphis Rodders Reunion donation in short order after the presentation of the proceeds is made in the coming days.

To cap off the successful evening, and to adhere to a newly developed tradition of recent years, a couple of race cars were summarily fired up in the parking lot. Both the GSTA Top Gas twin engined dragster, and the Stephens & Venables top fuel restoration were wheeled outside for some cackle time on this crisp November evening. Larry Nolan was honored with occupying the seat of the Stephens & Venables fueler this time around and was visibly jazzed as he prodded the fire breathing dragster to a healthy idle. Larry is no stranger to race cars, having raced for years at several levels, but I would dare say that this would probably have to be one the most ferocious cars he has ever handled. He gave car owner Rip Wiley a hearty handshake after the experience.

Stay tuned for the donation report, and don't forget to visit the
photo gallery to view additional photos of this year's reunion.