Jim’s Blog: Smoking Tires and Bent Sheet Metal

Get a big enough group of car guys together and eventually some of them are going to want to race. It’s just in our DNA. The people who put on Hot August Nights know this, and they feed that need for speed at the Nugget’s west parking lot in Sparks. There, a sixteenth of a mile course is set out for participants to see who really has the baddest machine in the area.

A bunch of cars battled for those bragging rights on Friday night. They ranged from a small-block powered T-bucket to a supercharged ’69 Chevelle. Some were clearly full race-tuned machines, while others were street-spec hot rods driven by guys with something to prove.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect here, as track prep has a lot to do with how hardcore drag cars work – these guys were racing on lightly prepped parking lot, so it seemed like traction was going to be a problem for everyone. It was for some, and not for others. That made things interesting.

It was standing room only all evening, as attendees crowded the safety gates to get a good look at the muscle cars as they tore up their tires and screamed through the parking lot.

The first car I saw roll to the line was a blue T-bucket. I’ve always considered them to be pretty hairy rides, and this one sure was – it had a lot of rubber and no real weight, and it bounced all over the place while the driver, minus any visible safety gear, struggled to keep it out of the wall during his burnout. It was fantastic to watch.

He raced a nasty-sounding ’57 Nomad in black with yellow and orange flames, and he came out ahead on that first run.

Behind them was a ‘65 Olds with a smashed up front end. It launched hard, and the lady driving it was clearly not new to running it down the track. I found out later that she’d overshot the end of the track earlier in the evening and had caved in that front end on a cement barrier. And yet she was still racing – and winning. Bob, the man standing next to me, got excited whenever she came to the line. “This one’s really fast.” he said. “You’ve got to watch her.”

She wasn’t the only one to kiss the wall, either. A well-built drag Nova had the same problem – only in this case, the driver had gotten sideways and punched in the passenger side quarter panel. The car looked savable. His pride? Not so much.

Of course, it’s all a part of racing, and the fans loved every minute of it.

We stayed just long enough to see every car make a pass, and then it was off to the Sparks sanctioned cruise, just down the street. Check out Chad’s take on that here.

Tomorrow, we’ll be heading out to a few more car shows, and then it’s over to Barrett-Jackson for the evening. Stay tuned!