story and photos by Ray Alexander
Can there be a Spring Fest without Ralph Gilles? All of the upper executives were required to attend a meeting somewhere else. I don’t think they were looking at getting back into NASCAR. [FCA announced major changes in the top executives yesterday. Now I suspect that is why Spring Fest was short on execs.] Mark Trostle was at SpringFest, and he is important in my book.
The Doubletree was not large enough to house the attendees. I think this indicated that more people were coming a distance that required an overnight stay and fewer locals were attending.
I went to the Edelbrock open house. I allowed four hours to travel from San Diego to Torrance, I arrived one hour early. When I was gainfully employed and required to go to L.A. for business, the I- 5, I-15 and I-215 were equally bad. The merge with L.A. traffic was horrid. Today there was no problem. For a time I was following a truck that was hauling one gigantic aluminum heat sink. I wasn’t the only one that was early.
I knew that Jon Welfringer had one of the early Edelbrock superchargers, he actually got the first production unit. I remember him saying that Edelbrock used computer aided design (CAD) drawings for everything. The days of designing something on a bar napkin are no more, another piece of America gone. Jon has a 392 cid Chrysler and with the stock tune [and supercharger] he was getting 550 rwhp.
During the tour I took a picture of a picture, it was an old school bike and rider. The bike was a Triumph, it looked new, no scratches or dents. The rear suspension was a sprung-hub with two inches of movement. I later found out the rider was Rod Sokoloski, he worked in research and development. He built an oversize intake manifold and was the pioneer of equal length intake runners. His attire was typical for the era, a pair of Levis and a T-shirt that might have a pack of non-filtered Camel cigarettes rolled up in a sleeve. Levi Strauss and Hanes took care of a lot of the riding gear in those days.
For their supercharger, they made the castings. I am sure this was for quality reasons. I saw some Haas machines, they too will help you with quality. Edelbrock does most of their testing on engines that they own, a rather impressive wall of engines. Something they did not call our attention to was a wall on the second floor, it had more carburetor adapters that I do.
Robert Young has worked for Edelbrock for thirty years. He works with the dynamometers. These measure the crankshaft output, they are SuperFlow units. I saw a familiar looking tool on a desk, I asked what it was for? It was for adjusting potentiometers (pots). It was a long version for getting to pots that are not mounted on the rear edge of a board. I haven’t needed one for years and I am very happy about it.
Thirty percent of their business is carburetors. Once at a drag race a woman was running too rich, she had a dual four barrel set up with Edelbrock performance carbs. The husband was helping. He complained these damn Edelbrocks must have a dozen screws in the top. The wife quietly replies, “Nah, they only have eight.”
The fastest growing segment of their business is superchargers. Their unit almost disappears, nothing yells at you, “hey, look, I am a supercharger.” It looks like it is supposed to be there.
The lighting in the art department was very subdued. All art is now on a computer screen. The low light level reduces heat and increases productivity
They have one engineer from Mississippi, I can understand him. I have talked with him at SEMA for the last few years. Yep, ran into him today.
I went back to the Doubletree to meet friends from past events and make some new ones. The AZLX group was there in force. There are two ladies that keep this group whipped into shape, Chris Wood and Dawn Hamm. Chris has been there longer, but Dawn is like a Tasmanian Devil. In fact Dawn is getting her own car today April 1, 2015 a Furious Fuchsia Challenger with 9k miles. I am sure it is not an April Fools prank. Doit Miller designed the new logo for AZLX, the Arizona flag wrapped around the Omega M for Mopar. He also designed a Dodge Brothers shirt and had some made. I feel honored, he gave me one.
Now we drop the Z and move to the Alberta LX group, they have a fairly regular group. Ron was there, but without his seven second Challenger. He told me he wasn’t going to Mopars at the Strip. Someone that looked like him showed up with a yellow Challenger that had a lot of power. The Procharger was acting up, he and Cam worked on it. Ron is talking twin turbos.
Sometime in the early evening hours a rumor swept through that Karl Schello’s car was here and off the trailer. A myriad of troubles have helped make this build a two year task. With Cam on the job even the details that got attention got more attention. Every bolt has been indexed. The car was tuned at Kenne Bell’s and A.J. (Hemituner) from Arrington came to do the work. Karl has a goal of 225 mph at the Mojave Mile.
From Mopars at the Strip, I can report that Grizz, the black Challenger with the nose and tail kit, was running strong. This car was stolen from Spankin Time’s lot, stripped of electronics and other things, but Spankin Time rebuilt the car. It will also be at the Mojave Mile.
I volunteered to help and was assigned to parking on the side farther from the street. What a riot, two cars that come in together have a good chance of parking butt to butt, they don’t want that they want to be side by side. I need space for forty cars, but only twenty nine are here now. I can’t help you. If you want forty cars together they need to be together when they drive in.
The setup was much like last year, the public address platform was at one end with the free rides on the other end. Vendors are along a corridor that was walked in getting from one to the other. The food tent was brought into this corridor, last year it was out in left field. Finally, a tent far in left field was the place for questions and answers by FCA executives. I went over and listened for a while. I could tell that Mark Trostle was worried so I moved on.
Well in advance of the event, it was announced that Richard Petty would be here with a hauler. They brought three or four cars and some product displays. At first I dismissed the possibility of getting an autograph. Later thinking brought up facts such as: this is not a NASCAR crowd, it will be much smaller and some of the younger people will not know who he is, unless he is in a video game. I went by and chatted with the senior guy and was advised, “Richard will not leave the hauler to sign anything.”
I got some “Wax for Dads” products and started back to my car that was no more than eight feet from the Petty hauler. I went back with a plan, Richard will not leave the hauler, so you drop the tailgate and I will drive in. Rejected. I did get his autograph on a picture of my car doing a burnout at Famoso Raceway. Richard was very pleasant and that must be difficult. A lot of people showed up with plastic under hood pieces to be signed, even in a mild crash those end up on the street looking like a jigsaw puzzle.
My favorite quote about Richard, “He got lucky 600 times.”
The ride program was actually quite good, but I never intended to participate, I’m a driver not a rider. There were two Hellcat Challengers and two Vipers. The cars were set in motion by a drag racing “christmas-tree.” The Challengers were evenly matched, but the red Viper always won. I don’t know who the drivers were, but they could shift a manual transmission without allowing engine compression to take up the driveline lash.
Tiffy was here and her car was in a vendor’s booth this year. Alas, she is getting married. I congratulated the man she chose. Speaking of ladies, the three that dyno tested their cars at Spankin Time were all at SF#10. When most people can’t get one Hellcat, the lady with the white one now has a green one too.
I met A.J. (Hemituner) from Arrington. He had a 2006 SRT8 Charger and like mine it was silver. The similarities ended there, his would lift the front wheels at launch. There was no question about them being off the ground, several inches of air could be seen. He lamented, “I wish I still had that car.”
The Irvine Police were conspicuously absent except on the grounds of the actual event, for crowd control. A very large stack of “fix-it” tickets could have been issued, along with an occasional one for driver behavior.
The hotel that I selected was a couple of miles from the Doubletree. I made that trip several times and saw one patrol car. The group of volunteers was the best behaved caravan of LX cars I have ever seen.
Pinnacle Capital Mortgage Corporation was here as a vendor. They brought two cars, a Gen1 Charger and a Challenger, both were SRT8. I was lured by the free water. The lady told me the Charger went 9.56 in the quarter mile. I replied, “No way,” Then I glanced at the car and saw the full roll cage. The owner is Sam Castorena, the car has 980 rwhp, and the time was from Fontana. With good air and a well prepped track (hint Famoso) that could be an eight second car. She asked if I needed to refinance. I replied, “No, I would be more interested in a reverse mortgage.” That started the selling. If my wife would let me get a reverse mortgage, two snails would magically appear on my car.
I read on social media that Fatchance 1.0 was going to be at Spring Fest. In the afternoon there was an announcement by FCA. Fatchance 1.0 and 2.0 were placed in front of the platform for addressing the attendees. The announcement revealed Fatchance 3.0, a grey 2016 Chrysler was pushed out. It seemed that Fatchance 2.0 didn’t have a long life. How does he drive three cars? How will he mod this one? Will he run the risk of being repetitive, or put on a lift kit and some big wheels?
In retrospect, there can be a Spring Fest without Ralph. In my opinion it would have been better with him there.
additional: by Patrick Rall
This past weekend brought the tenth annual LX Spring Festival, and while I have been to a great many car shows around the country, I have truly never seen anything like this. Over a thousand Dodge Chargers, Dodge Challengers, Dodge Magnums, and Chrysler 300s lined the gigantic parking lot of the Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine, California on Saturday, with the proceeds going to benefit Southern California (SoCal) charities.
The 2015 event was the tenth, but it was my first – and I was totally blown away. I expected a very cool show with plenty of customized modern Mopar muscle cars, but aside from the size, the sheer diversity among both the vehicles and the people of the LX Spring Festival was unique and incredible.
In addition to the thousand people who came out with their vehicles, there was a huge crowd of spectators on hand (some of which drove very nice non-LX and non-Jeep Mopars), and in addition to those many stock and custom privately owned show vehicles, there was a huge display with a collection of brand new Chrysler Group vehicles from Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, Jeep and Fiat.
There were also, inexplicably, Jeep Grand Cherokees at the event, presumably because they also come in an SRT version. While the body is unrelated to the LX series (technically, LA, LC, LD, and LX), the engine and transmission are basically the same.
There was a Dodge display trailer where you could sign up for an incredible thrill ride program with the Dodge Viper GTS and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Riders were loaded into two Hellcat cars and two Vipers at a time, with the cars performing a short side-by-side drag race followed by a blast through a curvy serpentine course on their way back to the starting line.
As a devout Mopar lover, it was really cool to see so many modern Mopar muscle cars in one area, but what was even cooler was the incredible levels of diversity in both the people and the cars. Within the crowds of attendees were Mopar lovers young and old, from all walks of life, all coming together to celebrate the vehicles that they love so much. The cars ranged from factory stock to full blown race cars and chassis-dragging low riders so no matter what genre of automotive customization you prefer, you were guaranteed to find a bunch of vehicles that would make your heart melt.
Finally – and most importantly – the 2015 LX Spring Festival raised over $12,000 for charity, with the proceeds benefitting groups including Ocean View High School PTSO and the Orangewood Children’s Home.
We have included a few pictures here, but I took over 500 pictures of the vehicles on display at the 2015 LX Spring Festival and you can click any of the links below for a closer look at each vehicle group in high resolution. If you didn’t make it to Irvine for the show this year, we have you covered with one of the biggest collections of Spring Festival images that you will find online.
SpringFest 2014 • Dodge Challenger • Dodge Charger • Dodge Magnum • Chrysler 300C
Chrysler Heritage • History by Year • Chrysler People and Bios • Corporate Facts and History
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