(Words and photos by Joe Grippo) – It’s January, it’s cold, it’s snowing and the dragstrips will be closed for at least a few more months, pretty bleak times for drag racers for sure. Normally, Practice Tree Races are the only action happening around here this time of year but not all is lost, seems a few smart dudes recently got together and organized a drag racing centered wintertime car show and bench racing session. Dubbed the 2019 Indoor National Dragfest it was held at the spacious Lebanon, Pa. Expo Center and, of course, BangShift was in the house. Drag Cars by the bunches filled the multiple rooms of the building along with a healthy dose of Pro Streeters and street machines filling in the few open spots. Vintage Pro Stockers, Gassers, Stockers, Front Engine Dragsters and old school Funny Cars were all over the show. A really cool display remembering the historic York US30 Dragway was a popular stop in the main hall. Famed Pro Stock Driver and engine builder Larry Lombardo was the guest of honor. Larry emptied out his closet full of vintage racing jackets plus his trophy case and put all his memorabilia on display for the attendees to ogle over. Pure eye candy for drag racing historians like myself. A gathering of Lombardo’s old racers and cars powered by his latest powerplants surrounded him all weekend.
One of the highlights of the weekend for me was witnessing the public debut one of the three Bill Thomas built fastback Chevy II’s known to exist, in barn-fresh condition after a lengthy slumber. Slated for a full restoration back to its C-K-C livery by Greg Cook in Gettysburg, Pa, the appearance of this recently unearthed relic caused quite a stir among the crowd when it was displayed next to the Maynard Rupp Chevoom mid-engine Chevelle also restored by Cook. The Fastback Nova’s originally started life as convertibles and had the fiberglass fastback grafted on for road racing before they went drag racing. Reportedly GM ordered them all destroyed but at least one other and we thankfully know now, this one survives. Rare finds are still out there apparently! The Buddy Ingersoll turbo Pinto was looking race ready on the show floor as were a few Bill Jenkins “Grumpy’s Toy” clones. It was great weekend to escape the plummeting temperatures and get a bit of a racing fix. From what I saw the show was well attended and seemed like a big success, so hopefully it will go done again next year and of course BangShift will be there.