(Words and photos by Darr Hawthorne) – The Antique Nationals began decades ago; it was an event specifically to celebrate 4-cylinder powered hot rods at a time when the memory of those pioneering autos was fading away.
Plenty of the low horsepower four bangers had been dumped in favor of Hemi headed Chryslers, overhead valve small block Chevys, Caddies, Buicks and tricked out Ford flatheads.
The Antique Nationals was arguably the first “nostalgia-racing event”, long before large revenue, multi day reunions and cackle parties. Now today, the event is open to just about any body style and engine combo as long as the body was manufactured before 1954.
Founded in November of 1954, the Four Ever Four Cylinder Club stages this annual event, held at Auto Club Dragway this year with a cool collection of coupes, roadsters, old racecars, trucks and a small swap meet of race, choice parts from a galaxy far, far away. The long gone Orange County International Raceway held the first event in 1969 and the event became known as the Antique Nationals in ‘71 at OCIR. There’s a brief tech inspection for participants and open-cockpit pilots must wear a helmet and arm restraints, but this event is to celebrate a long lost era, have some fun and hang out with old friends.
SoCal hard charger Bobby Cottrell took the trophy in Top Eliminator, but most of the racers ran in the double-digit time range. No drama, no staging battles… just a bunch of hot rodders taking out their old cars and playing with them, a proud tradition of speed.
In addition to the Antique Nationals, the Four Ever Four Cylinder Club also holds a vintage Hill Climb, these cars are cool!