Raffle winner gets driver's seat experience in roaring, 2,000-horsepower '70s vintage Top Fuel dragster
Modeled on the annual McCall Motorworks Revival party that kicks off Monterey Car Week, the second Arizona Jet Center soiree helped launch Arizona Auction Week at the Scottsdale Airport.
The lifestyle event showcases aircraft, exotic cars, fine art, food, wine and other amenities, and also raises money for Child Help, which is dedicated to prevention, intervention and treatment of child abuse, as well as support for Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary.
A highlight this year was a visit by Bob and Pat Bondurant. Bob was part of Carroll Shelby’s Ford Cobra team that won the 1965 world sports car racing championship. Bondurant twice took GT-class honors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also drove in Formula One and other series, but was critically injured when the steering arm broke on a Can-Am car he was driving.
He had helped train actors for roles in racing movies and, after recuperating from his injuries, launched the now Arizona-based Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving.
Among the vehicles on display at the airport event was a very correct 1956 Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa, one of a few to have its original engine and body. Also there was an exquisite 1952 Lancia Aurelia PF 200, a total of seven were produced, two cabriolets, two roadsters, and three coupes that resembled a contemporary fighter jet with its circular grille surround.
A 1966 427 Cobra sat prominently near a jet aircraft flanked by a yellow Ford GT and a very sharp ’64 Austin Healey 3000 BJ8.
Among others were a 1974 Porsche RSR, a 2016 Ariel Atom 3s, a 2012 Ferrari Italia, a 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900SZ, a 1972 Chevrolet Corvette, a 2012 Lamborghini Aventador, a 2016 Porsche GT3 RS, a 2017 Ford GT and a McLaren 570 Spider.
But what caught my eye, since I got my start in drag racing in the ‘70s shooting for Hot Rod magazine, was the Top Fuel slingshot dragster, Ridge Route Terrors, a front-engine rail with a blown and injected Hemi engine. They were dubbed that name because they would make the long haul over the Ridge Route near Bakersfield, California.
The late James Warren piloted the digger in the day and won the Winternationals in Pomona in 1968.
As the sun set, the owner of the dragster filled the tank with nitro and fired up the Chrysler Hemi and created a mini cackle fest with flames lighting up the darkening sky. Spectators had earplugs that the staff supplied to quench the ear-splitting rattle from the powerful engine.
A woman who won a raffle to sit in the dragster was outfitted in a fire suit, gas mask, and goggles and experienced the power of a 2,000-horsepower engine — and will never forget it.