story and photos by Ray Alexander
This event started on Thursday night at Beach Burger, which hosts the longest running meet & greet for LX cars. They have Elvis hanging around; one booth is the rear end of a ’49 Ford. This is a tough crowd and they seem to think that is the best use for any Ford. They might give a little for a GT40. There was live feeds starting here and continuing through Sunday.
The social focus is at the Doubletree Hotel in Irvine, if you attend the event from out of town this is the place to stay. This hotel caters to this event; even the room keycards were an ad for Dodge.
The weather at this time of year can be unsettled; I drove in very early Friday morning in a bad rain. Racing is one thing, driving your car 75 mph with 5 lanes of traffic and very limited visibility is quite another. Hey! Is that 5 wide? I was happy to pull into the Doubletree. The rain soon stopped but the weather stayed cold and cloudy for everyone except for the Canadians, they thought it was warm and were wearing shorts and putting on sunscreen.
The US Wheel segment was disappointing; there was no plant tour, there was a lot of looking at Chryslers, Magnums, Chargers and Challengers with US Wheels. I noticed two of the 392 Challengers, white with blue racing stripes, each having a 1970 Colorado license plate, OA-5599. I later find out theses are numbered Kowalski Challengers and there will be a sequel to Vanishing Point. Any Mopar person should watch this movie about a dozen times. The DVD currently available has the angel of death scenes incorporated. For thirty years, U.S. audiences were deprived of these scenes.
The “Hulk,” tuned by BFNY, was there. I believe this car is dedicated to drag racing, it sounds mean! Jay Lightner pulled his car inside and 30 people swarmed over it. Any car here would attract attention, for instance a two door Chrysler with suicide doors.
The hotel has a welcome barbeque from noon to 5 P.M. but it lasted to at least two more hours. There is a long line of cars getting excellent detailing work done along one side of the hotel. A large tent is being erected for the Chrysler-Dodge welcome party scheduled from 7 P.M. until midnight. People are making new friends and seeing other friends that they see only once a year. People are doing mods, car cleaning is intense with 4316 microfiber towels being used.
Cam pulls in with his slightly modified Challenger on a trailer.
As the shadows begin the get long a covered car hauler stops in front of the hotel and guys begin to unload covered vehicles and slowly drive and guide them to the tent area. Then a second hauler pulls up and unloads more vehicles. Ralph Gilles arrives and I tell him what I want to do. He says get with me later.
Inside the hotel there are several models and unless I am blind and stupid these were picked for being tall and thin.
The tent event did not get started on time. The cars are still covered but I can easily identify the Charger SRT8 so I tell this model, “Sorry you didn’t get my favorite car,” so I put her in jail.
Some time after kickoff Ralph is there so I decide to do my thing. I go to my car and get a 22-ounce bottle of beer and a long sleeve pullover shirt. I get Ralph aside and say, “I have found the perfect beverage to compliment the new SRT8 Charger and finding it was as simple as ABC.” I pull out a bottle of Arrogant Bastard and there you have it, Arrogant Bastard Charger. The shirt has lettering down the sleeves, on one side it says “Arrogant Bastard” and on the other reads “you are not worthy.”
Ralph says, “You know, the Charger can totally pull this off.”
I am glad I did it then because after leaving the hotel I only caught one glimpse of him the next day.
There was a full size van on display with a full size motorcycle inside. My body decides that I am tired so I go up to the room. Not quite 11 P.M., I have got to do a lot of practice.
The next morning people are leaving very early for the 5-minute trip to El Toro Marine base. The guidance systems do not recognize the new name. In the prime parking spots that have been vacated sits fatchance 2.0, the primary organizer of the show. I wander around and talked to freebird.
I walk back toward the hotel and Ralph Gilles and fatchance are posing in front of the car. When they finish I ask Ralph to come look at some very subtle ghost flames. He takes some pictures and one of me with the car. The flames were my wife’s idea but she didn’t know how much they would cost.
I am waiting on trs300 and soon get a call. He has had too much fun and is running late so go on without him. I give him directions and head for the tarmac. This was a Marine air base and the lines on the runways allow us to be aligned with more precision than salesmen align cars on the lot.
Soon after arriving Sam Hubinette is going to drift the Challenger. The car has red halos with a small number of large LEDs. It looks totally evil when the red halos emerge from its own smoke. This year he was allowed to get very close to the crowd. How close? I have one picture where the front of the car is in focus and the back is out of focus. I wonder who could trash more rubber, him or Ken Blocker. [See drifting section in a new window]
Some of the Alberta LX club had gotten a Mopar canopy when the snow was pretty deep. I said I would see them at Spring Fest. I see the canopy and go over to discover it was the same bunch I had been hanging out with yesterday. The weather is still not such that the canopy is needed. Using it for a windbreak would have been a much better idea.
A representative from the Brampton factory was handing out Brampton pins.
The test drive was very popular, with a line most of the day. About 3 pm I heard on the guys in charge ask how many people wanted to drive the red Charger. Several people held up their hands. The guy said about two more accelerations like the last guy did an nobody would drive it. The rear tires are about gone. There were Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers and a Dodge Durango. The challenge drive was almost as popular even with having to make a monetary donation. There were three Chargers, two were Hemis on one was a V6. I did very poorly in this event, they put someone in the car with me and it threw me off my game.
I had purchased some drag radials from a forum member and decided it was time to find them. So I call Brute SRT, he tells me where he is. I find him and he asks which ones I am after and I say the Mickey Thompson drag radials. He has another set of Hoosier slicks. About this time his phone rings, it is the guy for the other set of tires. It is one of the ALX guys, Ron David. He has a Furious Fuscha Challenger and will be running against me at Mopars on the Strip.
There seemed to be a shortage of vendors. If you stop and think about it several that were targeting Chrysler have gone out of business. Chrysler invested more in this Spring Fest than any other, and from comments that I heard it will be a worthwhile investment.
That evening Kowalski Challenger #7 became available and it was offered to me. Being old and retired I had to turn it down. I wanted a ’68 Charger since the first day I saw one, I had to settle for a ’06 SRT8 and it has paid dearly for being late to the table.
These cars show what can be done to the Dodge Charger. When they first purchased the cars there was virtually nothing available for them. Both are wonderful people and they both live in central California. I didn’t ask either of them how much was invested in their car.
Also at Springfest: Chrysler 300 S • Jay Lightner • Ken Johnson • Sam Hubinette Drifting and More PhotosRelated pages at Allpar: 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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