Los Banos

Eage Field prepares for two days of racing

Los Banos resident Les Gomes, front right, and his crew maneuver his custom-built drag racer into its spot in the pits.
Los Banos resident Les Gomes, front right, and his crew maneuver his custom-built drag racer into its spot in the pits. Los Banos Enterprise

Folks planning to drop in on two days of drag races at Eagle Field from May 17-18 may want to bring ear plugs. It’s gonna be loud.

The former World War II-era airfield in Oro Loma, southwest of Dos Palos, will host the fifth annual Fresno Dragways Reunion on May 17, followed the next day by the Dos Palos Lions Drag Race. The reunion features pre-1974 “run whatcha brung” entries and a variety of modifications, and the Lions race is open to all years of domestic cars and pre-1974 imports. Race coordinator Rocky Phillips is hoping to beat the event’s all-time high of 180 race cars.

Phillips said most similar events fall under what’s called nostalgia racing, but he uses a different term for his event: truestalgia racing.

“We use the flag start, the runway has the traction of a parking lot. Eagle Field’s just like it was in the ’50s,” Phillips said. “It’s not like these other places where it’s sticky and you can go down the whole track without smoking the tires. I don’t have that trademarked or anything, but that’s what we call it. We have the largest truestalgia drag race in the country.”

Saturday’s races will feature one showdown that should catch attention, pitting Rich Guasco’s Pure Hell 1963 fuel-altered roadster, which has been a hit on the drag-racing circuit since the mid-1960s, against Stormy Byrd’s The Revelation, another roadster from the ’60s.

“He’s racing basically the Eagle Field favorite, with a car that was also raced in the mid-60s with what they call a fuel-modified roadster,” Phillips said. “It never had the notoriety of Pure Hell. He bought it from a movie studio – they were going to use it for American Graffiti 2, but they never did, so he bought it and has been racing it ever since.

“Ron and Stormy are both showmen. They’re not trying to get traction, they’re going to blaze the tires. Each time they race they’ll be smoking the whole eighth-mile.”

Putting on the races is easier than it used to be, with about 50 volunteers that have been with Phillips since the event began. He’s also thankful his job with Cerutti and Sons Trucking in Fresno allows him time to put the event together.

“Because they are so dedicated, and we’re kind of a family,” Phillips said, “and with them being so dedicated to Eagle Field and what we’re doing, it doesn’t take much. The key people pretty much have their position and are dedicated to it and I let them handle it.”

Saturday’s Lions race will culminate in the Doorslammer Quick-8, which pits the cars with the fastest times of the day into two eight-car brackets.

“Everybody wants to go to the coffee shop on Monday and be the talk of the town, but only one guy gets to,” Phillips said.

Daily admission is $15 for spectators (children younger than 14 are free) and race entry is $40 per car and driver and $25 per mini bike and rider. The event offers free camping with a two-day general admission purchase. Racing begins at noon on May 17. Details: www.eaglefielddrags.com.