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Drag racing show to have new format

ELIJAH ARMOLD
717-505-5406/@YDSports

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Linda Vaughn, right, known as the "First Lady of Motorsports" will appear at the York Nostalgia Weekend.

— French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Over its 15 years of existence, that statement could easily apply to drag racing’s York Nostalgia Weekend, also known as the York Reunion.

It has seen its fair share of tweaks, but ultimately remains the same at its core — a celebration that brings the drag racing community together to commemorate York’s rich history in the sport.

This year’s tweak saw a shift in setting that helped bring the event back from the brink of its demise. Another change comes in the title of the main show. Formerly called "Musclecar Madness," the 2016 version will be known as "York US30 Heritage Days."

“We moved from the York Expo Center to the Eastern Museum, and what we’ve done is we’ve made the show there at Latimore Valley Fairgrounds more direct to historic drag racing vehicles,” said Darwin Doll, drag racing coordinator at the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing in York Springs. “And we still have the musclecars in the cruise in on Saturday.

“I had planned to retire and no one picked up the show to continue it,” Doll said. “And my being involved with the Eastern Museum, I said ‘Well I hate to see this thing die,’ so I decided I’m going to run it at the museum. It’s a take off from the Musclecar Madness. It’s a York Reunion, that’s really what it is.”

This year’s incarnation of the York Nostalgia Weekend will run from July 8-10 and will take place at the historic Latimore Valley Fairgrounds and Eastern Museum of Motor Racing in York Springs.

York Nostalgia Weekend boasts that it has more drag racing legends assembled at one event at one time than any other in the United States.

Events: The festivities kickoff Friday, July 8, with a drag racing car show, and the day will be dedicated to Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins. Some of Jenkins’ race cars will be on display, including the 1968 Camaro "Grumpy's Toy IV" that won the first two National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock events in 1970.

The show will also present many of the top drag racing vehicles from the glory days of drag racing. The annual Legion of Honor awards presentations will take place Friday as well. A list of the eight award recipients will be released in the coming months.

Among the notable drag racing names attending are "Ohio George" Montgomery, Jere Stahl, Wally Bell, Jon "The Voice of Drag Racing" Lundberg, Bob Harrop, Jim and Alison Lee, Wally Booth and World Champions Bruce Larson and Jim Walther.

“We have a lot of other activities, round tables, vendors and auctions during the two days. And it all benefits the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing,” Doll said.

Musclecars will be featured on July 9 during the "Glory Days Cruise-In" which highlights musclecars, street rods, trucks and special interest vehicles including those of the vintage variety. Awards will also be presented in a number of categories.

Presenting the awards will be Linda Vaughn, nicknamed "Miss Hurst Golden Shifter" and commonly known as the "First Lady of Motorsports."

The day’s events will also feature a roast of local racing figure Stahl and a tribute to Harold "Chub" Lorah. A "Cackling Thunder" cackle fest will be held both days, where the legendary race cars will start their engines and provide the classic sounds race fans have come to love. Other surprise special events are in the works for both days.

The nostalgia weekend concludes on July 10 with the 13th annual York Nostalgia Nationals at Beaver Springs Dragway.

More information can be found at www.yorknostalgia.com.

Created to celebrate history: The York area rose to prominence on the drag racing scene when the US30 Dragway track hosted the inaugural Super Stock Nationals race in 1965. That event grew to become the largest one-day racing event in the sport’s history and the track at the York Airport in Thomasville ultimately became one of its most historic until closing in 1979.

Another unique feature was that the track had four lanes, while most only had two. This was credited for creating more exciting races and helping boost the track's popularity.

Doll is particularly fond of the track. It was where he gained his affection for the sport and it was the first of many tracks he’s worked at during his more than 50 years in the industry.

“The events at the old York Dragway went over really well in the past,” Doll said.

While there are no plans for resuming activities at the US30 Dragway, Doll is hopeful to be back at the fabled track starting next year.

In the past, Doll had expressed concern over his health possibly getting in the way of organizing these events.  That thought was what spurred him to originally end the event after last year’s celebration, since he was unable to find anyone to take over the duties.

But, with his health still good at age 82, and his love for drag racing burning as strong as ever, Doll couldn’t stand to see his beloved festival fade into the same history it celebrates.

He is, however, still looking for someone to take the reins.

“I’m going to hang in there,” Doll said. “I’ve now decided I will do this for the Eastern Museum, but I am going to try and find an understudy that will start picking up details and working toward my handing the baton to them.”

It’s another change he hopes can be made, all the while keeping things the same.

Reach Elijah Armold at earmold@yorkdispatch.com