A Classic T-bird
by Sandra Hood - CTCI #16226 - Little Elm (Dallas area), TX
photos by Jerry Wotel - CTCI #6597 - Lake Tahoe, CA
Forty-two classic Thunderbirds gathered at the quiet little 1/8th mile drag strip at Cedar Creek, Texas dragway, forty five minutes east of Dallas, on May 10th. Hosted by members of the Big 'D' Little Birds and organized by Peter and Beth Leddy, T-birders in their classic cars were going down the track about 65 mph, experiencing a thrill of a lifetime. CTCI members Martin and Mary Lou Bierman of Nebraska, Keith and Janette McNeal of Oklahoma, David Church of Mississippi and CTCI Early Bird Electronic Editor, Jerry Wotel and his wife Cindy joined the Texas T-birders for this event. The Bierman's, McNeal's and David Church trailered their '55 T-birds to participate in the race which was the biggest and best ever. CTCI Thunderbird clubs represented at the drag race were the Nebraskaland Thunderbird Club, Tulsa Classic Thunderbird Club, Classic Thunderbirds of Houston, San Antonio Classic Thunderbird Club, Metroplex Early Birds, Sierra Nevada Classic T-Birds and the Big 'D' Little Birds. Y-block enthusiasts from California, Minnesota, Louisiana, Lubbock and Waco, Texas were also in attendance.
There were several classes to participate in and even the ladies had a class of their own for the second year in a row opening the drag race event. CTCI ladies participating in the drag race were Augusta Cascio of Terrell, Texas driving her '57 starmist blue Bird, Rachel Chaput of Plano, Texas driving the Chaput's '57 gray Bird, Jean Davis of Dime Box, Texas driving her '55 "old gray" Bird, Valerie Hastings of Dallas, Texas driving her '57 red Bird, Sandra Hood of Little Elm, Texas driving her '55 red Bird, Laura Nuckels of Carrollton, Texas, daughter-in-law of Geraldine Nuckels and the late Walt Nuckels, driving the Nuckels' '56 black Bird, Debbie Parker of Allen, Texas driving her '57 starmist blue Bird and Anita Taylor of Plano, Texas driving her '55 red Bird. The ladies handled their Birds with skill and determination and will return for a repeat performance next year.
This year's World champion winner is longtime CTCI and Big 'D' Little Birds' member Ernie Phillips from Tyler, Texas. Those of you attending the CTCI convention in Chicago in 2000 had the rare opportunity to view Ernie's white '56 T-bird race car in the Display Class during concours judging.
Some participants drove other early Fords and participated in the Y-block class as well as two highly modified cars, a 1923 T-bucket and a 1957 fiberglass Thunderbird competing in a separate class. There was a class for the top highly modified but real Thunderbirds which included Ernie Phillips of Tyler, Texas, David Church of Jackson, Missisippi, Robert Goodwin of Plano, Texas and Keith McNeal of Owasso, Oklahoma. The majority of the race cars were unmodified T-birds in classes "A" through "E".
First round losers were given a chance to run in a separate class set up for them alone called the "Pot Luck Marathon". Once all brackets had established a winner, a new elimination ladder was defined to determine an overall winner or "King of the Hill." Handicapping, faster cars given a delayed start in each heat based on their time bracket allowing slower cars a fair race between the two, established the pecking order.
Following the drag race, drivers and race fans were treated to hamburgers, hot dogs, salads and desserts compliments of Don Hyde and members of the Big 'D' Little Birds.
The Dallas Morning News covered the event and published a full page story with color photos on Friday, May 16, 2003. The article was titled "Going Zero to '50s - Thunderbird collectors burn rubber and heat up memories while racing their classic '50s cars". The Birdsapalozza 2003 event was a huge success and we hope next year all of you can join us for this fantastic event. It truly was the best ever.
Best Appearing Support Team Dr. Mike McQuade's "Spit Crew" - Plano, TX
Best Reaction Time Vince Cascio, Terrell, TX with a .002
Best Real Steel T-bird ET Ernie Phillips, Tyler, TX with a 7.37
Ladies Challenge Winner Laura Nuckels, Carrollton, TX
Rookie of the Year Randy Nuckels, Carrollton, TX
Potluck Marathon Vince Cascio, Terrell, TX
Y-block Champion (not T-birds) Bruce Bowdin, Rockwall, TX
Outlaw Y-Block (Fiberglass Bird) Jerry Christenson, Minnesota
Class A Martin Bierman, Elkhorn, Nebraska
Class B Mike McQuade, Plano, TX
Class C Victor Pekar, Damon, TX
Class D John Cappellin, Waco, TX
Class E Doug Saffell, Rice TX
World Champion Ernie Phillips, Tyler TX
King-of-the-Hill John Cappellin, Waco,TX
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