Nostalgia flourishes at Arlington Drag Strip Reunion

ARLINGTON — It’s a nostalgic event, with many participants at the Arlington Drag Strip Reunion remembering the days when drag races were held at the Arlington Airport.

It all started Friday evening with hotrods bellowing and big clouds of smoke billowing over North Olympic Avenue.

The reunion and car show ran 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, for a day of admiring the art of dragsters.

The announcer for the event, Bert Cammach claimed nearly 4,000 people in attendance. Organizer Bill Kinney, who coordinates the reunion as a fundraiser for the Arlington Boys and Girls Club where he is director, said 500 cars registered. It’s also for his own benefit, however.

“I was too young to get in on the races,” said Kinney, who often bemoans that fact. Indeed, it was one of the main reasons he launched the reunion five years ago.

“We invite the oldtimers to come for free,” Kinney said. They are the featured entertainment.

A former racer himself, Cammach brought his 1931 Ford Woodie to the show from Bellingham.

He remembers attending Arlington’s drag races from 1962 to 1968, and enjoys meeting up with lots of old friends at the reunion. At the end of the day he was hanging out with Jack Williams, of Langley, B.C., the owner of one of his favorite machines, the Syndicate Scuderia.

“It won the national record in 1963,” Cammach said.

The Scuderia doesn’t race any more, Williams said, but he still gets a big thrill when his daughter runs the car.

“We ran it down and back,” he explained, adding the dragster doesn’t have a starter and they have to push start it.

“Wendy Ann ran it today,” he said. “She got it up to 119 mph in an eighth mile at Sechelt.”

“This dragster is very famous in the Northwest,” Cammach said.

It didn’t win any prizes here in Arlington this year, but just won a big award in Calgary the week before.

“It won a big trophy for ‘Best Appearance,’” Williams said.

“It’s a beautiful paint job,” said Herb McNutt, who managed Arlington’s drag strip races in the 1960s. He remembers the days when 10,000 people would come to the drag races in Arlington from 1961 to 1968.

“This is a very unusual car. You’ll never see another one like it,” McNutt said.

The Sindicate Suderia is not as loud as some of the machines at the event, since it has a gas engine rather than nitro.

“It’s still loud,” Williams admitted.

“A lot of people have stopped by to say they remember this car from those races in Arlington back in the ‘60s,” Williams added.

With 500 cars in attendance, the event made a pretty penny for the Boys and Girls Club, Kinney reported, although the exact amount of profit had not been determined as of press time. Add to that another $2,250 donated by the Sitting Pretty Car Club which held a car show at the same location on the west side of the airport two weeks ago.

“It’s all about the noise and the smell,” Kinney said. “Jack Williams was very famous in those days.”

“Bill puts a lot of effort into this show,” said Neil Knutson, who pulled himself away from his son Nelson’s Mustang project and walked down the road from his house in the neighborhood to see the grand finale Saturday afternoon.

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