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Fontana and Lions. Fontana opened in 1952 and was soon known as "Drag City". And then there was Lions, better known as "the Beach" because of it's location near the ocean in Long Beach. Lions opened in 1955. Both are long gone now, Fontana closed in 1969 and Lions in 1972. Relieve the memories...


The "groove". For whatever reason, the groove at Fontana was on the extreme right hand side of either lane, both of which were very wide.


A few folks showed up early on Saturday, test and tune for the fuel diggers. That has to be "the Surfers" in the right lane, I can tell by the '55 Chevy 4-door push car to the right. "The Surfers" toured the entire country with an open, single axle trailer pulled by that 6-cylinder sedan.

Note that both cars are lined up in "the groove".


Lions, when it first opened. The "old" tower and only a few bleachers back then. Note the "Christmas tree" hanging from a cable stretched across the starting line. The Christmas tree was invented at lions but there were no staggard starts. One yellow, one green and the red light. No pre-stage or stage lights. No guard rails and light poles that caused some loss of life. Lions typically ran the stock cars four at a time, to get them out of the way for the fuelers.


Eventually, the stands on the right hand side ran the full length of the quarter mile, and there were stands right next to the starting line on the left side of the track, too.


And this is why. Top fuelers in every lane for as far as the eye can see, all the way back to 223rd St. (next to the 405 Freeway), 32 car and 64 car top fuel shows with 75 and 80 top fuelers trying to make the field. Today there aren't 80 top fuelers in the entire world.


This phot was taken from the stands on the left side of the track, and looking back at the new tower on the bridge.


To speed up the action, Lions installed the rollers. Although everyone enjoyed the push starts, the rollers allowed car to fire up quicker. While one car was at the starting line, another could be on the rollers right behind him.


Getting ready for the last race, December 1, 1972. These are the empty stands on the left side of the track. If you wanted to stand next to the chain link fence, you were 24-inches from the track. You can't do that today.


The bleachers near the starting line for the last race. It was "an event", like going to Woodstock or to the first Newport Fesitival where Jimmy Hendrix lit his guitar on fire.


Today, 223rd and Alameda. A shipping container parking lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Some more shots of Lions...


Track was rented for a movie.


Hugh Tucker's street roadster in the left lane.


How close do you want to be to a top fueler? Many a 6-71 blower has gone over that chain link fence.


John "the Zookeeper" Mulligan on a Saturday night at "the beach", with a load in the tank.


Ed Roth's "Yellow Fang" dragster.


Not just your everyday '34 Ford sedan, this is "Big Al", powered by an Allison V-12 engine. Owner driver Jim Lytle sat in the back seat.


If it happened, it happend at Lions.


Don Gay from Texas, on the "bars", wowing the fans. It must have been late in the year, everyone is in jackets.


Jeep Hampshire, looking into a cloud of rubber smoke. The throttle blades are closoing but they will be wide open in another seconed.


It's Saturday night at "the beach", let the party begin.


Not a good night for Big Daddy.


Daddy Warbucks. Anyone who was anyone tried this track out.


Dick Landy gets a good bite.


Wild Willie driving with one hand. When the announcer announced that Willie was getting ready to run, EVERYBODY in the pits went to watch. It was like an instant ghost town in the pit area. Don Garlits would stop what he was doing and rush over to watch. Watching this car and that mad man make a pass was worth the price of admission alone.
 

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George was the 34 sedan called the Orange Crate and AMT made a 1/24 scale model of it?
Nope, it was called "Big Al". It was originally street legal (sort of).



Here is a photo after the top was chopped.



Naturally, only a mental case would drive something like this and Jim was accused of that on numerous occasions. But he liked "big engines", the more the merrier.


This is Jim's Fiat Altered, with four Allison engines and eight slicks. The man was deranged.
 

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i remember going to quite a few races at lions with my parents they took me there alot and that was a fun track to watch the cars .when i lived in signal hill up until a couple years ago everytime i drove down the 405 fwy and passing alameda i would look over to the shipping container lot and remind myself of the fun times at lions
 

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That might be it. I was thinking it had an injected Olds that set way back and the body lifted up on it. Been a long time ago. I may need to enlarge my memory on this old stuff. Nice pics again!
 

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That movie pic was from "The Munster" I remember the tv show....it is crazy to see what they did then. I believe it was George Barras that designed the cars....I might be wrong tho....George?


I was listening to Mousie talk about Wild Willie.....he held on to the side of the Winged Express when it made a run not to show off, but to hang on to something.....there was nothing else he could hold on to to steady himself and just drove that thing with one hand on the steering wheel!
 

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Great stuff George
 

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Awesome footage! It makes ya' wonder: when a movie company sets a flick in this time period, how the FUCK can they get certain details wrong??! The usually pay a "Technical Advisor" a chunk of change when all they really need to do is reference the real deal, right there in print! Ha! I can't get enough of the retro pic's, it's important to know the hot rod roots. Thanks!


---==Temio Williams
Yuba City, CA
 

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Nope, it was called "Big Al". It was originally street legal (sort of).



Here is a photo after the top was chopped.


.


This is Jim's Fiat Altered, with four Allison engines and eight slicks. The man was deranged.
think this one is at mike guffey's place.....as for that super chopped sedan , wasn't it the first 1 piece fiberglass body made...?
 

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HUH, Guess you aint been near Cherry Ave and PCH in that area. Whores and crack dealers! It wasnt nothing to find used rubbers,needles and so on in your yard. White people dont go near there as far as I know. Hadnt been around there if 15 years and it was scary then.
 
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