The 2015 Talladega Aero Car Reunion was held in three different locations over a four day period. This is Part 2 of a recap of the event’s activities. The Reunion has traditionally been held on the five year anniversary increments from the 1969 debut of the Talladega Speedway and the introduction of the Dodge Daytona to the Nascar Aero Wars. Unfortunately, it was not possible to hold the 45th Reunion last year due to Tim Wellborn’s health issues but all is well and the celebration was done on the 46th anniversary. The good news is that Tim and Pam plan to get back on schedule and do it again for the 50th Anniversary in 2019 and it should be a real blow out! So start saving your pennies and getting that special Aero Warrior Ford or Mercury ready to go!
Hot Rod Magazine was present at all events and coverage can be found on their web site as well as in an upcoming issue. Also seen wondering about was Dennis Gage of My Classic Car TV show as well as some other photographers and video crews.
If you could not make this dream meet there may be another very special event coming up in 2017. Obviously, nothing is finalized but there are some plans cooking and I will have more on that when it gets a little closer. Katrina and I are also working on our own annual Talladega Family Reunion for Ford and Mercury Aero Cars only in 2016. More to come on that as well right after the first of the year.
There were four days of continuous activity. Unfortunately, due to actually having to get some work done, Katrina and I had to cancel out of the first day’s (Thursday) activities. From what we hear it may have been one of the biggest highlights of the weekend. You can check out the Hot Rod web site for lots of photos. Not unlike the Fairlane Club event in Kingsport and Bristol Motor Speedway, there were high speed laps for those who made it to the Atlanta track. I heard nothing but good about that event and hope that someone will have more details and photos they would like to share.
On Friday everyone started early and gathered at the historical Russwood estate in Alexander City Alabama home of Tim and Pam Wellborn. It is hard to pick a highlight of the weekend but for Katrina and I this was the most fun of the weekend. The day flew by and we missed the tours of the home and theater and the wine tasking that took place. We were constantly talking with old friends and meeting new ones. A large number of Ford/Mercury cars and owners present that we have never met before. There were also a lot of the Winged Car owners who were eager to renew old acquaintances. Obviously, a by far the largest group of cars in attendance were the Winged Mopars. The event was honoring the memory of recently deceased and widely loved Buddy Baker. Younger fans will remember him as a Sports Caster of Nascar races, but he was far more; a great man, a competitive Nascar racer and the first to take a Cup Car to over 200mph. It was a fitting tribute to a legend.
Although cars were why we were there the food was also an attraction. A sandwich buffet was included in the registration which was greatly appreciated, enjoyed and convenient for those in attendance. In addition to the Reunion cars Tim and Pam had some of their remarkable personal cars on display around the property.
The weather was perfect, the grounds were beautiful and the stories were flowing. As the sun began to set a large group of dedicated fanatics from a New Orleans Mopar club provided an outstanding dinner of five star Cajun delight. Gumbo, boiled shrimp and other things I can not remember the names of filled our stomachs and delighted our taste buds. They are wonderful people and outstanding cooks. They have a big show in New Orleans coming up next May which sounds like no other around. We hope to attend but the only kicker is you have to have a Mopar powered vehicle to enter the show.
Saturday saw us all gather again early in the morning but this time at the Wellborn Muscle Car Museum just a block or two from Russwood. This former Chevy car dealership has been converted into a wonderful muscle car museum complete with work shop, parts department full of NOS parts, memorabilia store and of course a large display area. Many of the Museum’s cars were removed to make room for the estimated 300 people in attendance. This day included more informal conversations but also featured a panel presentation of former Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth engineers responsible for development of the Winged Cars, Ramcharger drag racers and Nascar Winged Warrior driver Charlie Glotzbach. The Wellborn Museum is now home to the Mopar Hall of Fame to which the Ramchargers were recently inducted.
Noticeably missing from all the festivities were any such folks representing the Ford teams or factories. We enjoyed the stories told and information provided but felt very left out. I hope for the 50th event there can be a little more attention given to the Ford folks. However, we did talk with Kenny Troutt who was an engineer on Charlie Glotzbach’s Daytona back in the day and was thrilled to hear that he lives only a few miles from us and has a Ford product he is rebuilding. He wants to come visit and check out some air cleaner details for a Ram Air system on our car!
Lunch was on our own with many fine restaurants nearby but many of us simply walked over to the Sonic next door, set up chairs in the drive up stalls and ordered some food. The wait was long and the food was cold but the stories were enjoyable. Saturday also included a silent action with some great deals to be had and a costume party which a few folks participated in. Another terrific evening meal was provided by Chef Tim Creehan of Destin, FL (Pam is part owner of the restaurant). It was a long day and we had to be ready to gather at the Winn Dixie parking lot for the police escorted caravan to Talladega at 7:00 Sunday morning so we called it a day right after the meal.
As we gathered to pull out Sunday I could not believe the number of trucks and trailers and cars that were headed to the Speedway in our group. I estimated one hundred and twenty five! Unlike prior years we did not take back roads but were primarily on four lane divided roads. If we had not done this there is no way the caravan would have stayed together; it appeared to be nearly two miles long!
When we reached the track there was some confusion on how to line up for the parade laps and some strict do’s and don’ts. The parade laps, we got two, started slow but did reach highway speed in the back stretch. On the front stretch the fans were out on the track and a narrow one lane path meant we had to go very slow. Unfortunately, vintage race cars and show cars do not do well at prolonged idle. I counted at least 4 or 5 of the group’s cars that had to return to the staging area on “the hook”. Some never even made a single lap.
Upon completion of the parade laps some participants headed for the grandstands to watch the race while others said their goodbyes, loaded up and headed home with a trunk full of memories.
Next up some photos of the cars!