Nitro Revival a Feast for All Senses

Click Here to Begin Slideshow When Steve Gibbs left the National Hot Rod Association in 2017, after being an integral part of the NHRA for 48 years, he had no idea of his next steps. It was difficult to depart a “calling” - not really a job - that he’d nourished since his teens, but Gibbs hasn’t ever been one to keep his focus on any rearview mirrors. Never a mechanic, nor a driver, Gibbs has always had the ability to organize. And after working with NHRA founder Wally Parks and those that succeeded him, primarily in the competition department as its director, he had a mental Rolodex for every outstanding driver and car that’s competed in both amateur and professional NHRA racing. Before his NHRA departure, it was Gibbs’ push that saw the completion of NHRA’s museum next door to the Fairplex site of this weekend’s NHRA World Finals, the contest that will crown 2021 champions. He was also responsible for the California Hot Rod Reunion, a race outside Bakersfield that he started in 1992 and one that continues to this day. Gibbs’ love for the sport and its history was the impetus to begin the Nitro Revival, whose fourth iteration occurred the second weekend of November 2021. Gibbs, working with daughter Cindy, had intended to hold a late fall Revival in 2020, but that was scotched as the COVID-19 pandemic swelled throughout the United States. The wait was worth it. The race, show and general get-together at Irwindale Speedway was just the thing for those who relish the sport of drag racing, from its California inception to its current-day massive productions. There were opportunities to see, hear and smell the mechanical relics that are capable of producing relatively quick and fast speeds, together with their abilities to bring past glories to the present. Thanks to Gibbs’ abilities for organization, the two-day show ran exceptionally smoothly - and on time, for the most part. Irwindale Speedway’s parking lot east of the oval track and adjacent to its 1/8-mile drag strip was chock-full of race cars, support vehicles, hot rods - and people, all of whom were exceptionally happy to be part of this gathering. From the on-track action to the ability to get up-close with race cars, to meet and greet old friends - and make new ones - the two-day Nitro Revival was terrific. Starting early Saturday morning, the grounds filled completely with people and machinery. There was an autograph session early Saturday afternoon where heroes of the sport, including 100-year-old Ed Iskenderian, Ed Pink, Don Prudhomme, Linda Vaughn, Ed “Ace” McCulloch, Tom Hoover, Rahn Tobler, Tommy Ivo and many, many more happily signed all manner of items brought for their attention. Saturday night was capped with an amazing cacklefest that occupied the left lane of the drag strip, from the Christmas Tree to the timing lights. And Irwindale Speedway then set off “normal” fireworks, continuing to captivate the crowd, all of whom stayed for the spiritual reminder of early nitro-burning cars. Sunday’s activities were a bit more laid-back, and were dedicated to competition - as befits any race meeting. Watching the cars on the track as they worked to contest the car in the next lane - along with their own frailties due to age - was a delight for all in attendance. There was also the highlight of a 1PM vehicle activation, where every race car on the premises was ignited and ran for at least five minutes. If that’s not a religious moment, what is? Once it was all complete, Steve Gibbs and daughter Cindy made certain to thank all of their many volunteers, a “chosen” family who made sure Nitro Revival 4 ran smoothly and happily. Thanks to all of them, it did. Gibbs reflected on the decision to leave NHRA after being part of that business for 48 years. “This past weekend at Irwindale has made it quite clear that the decision to “go it alone” was the right one,” for Gibbs. “‘Alone’ is not the correct word, however, as I have my daughter Cindy to keep the fire burning and the old man going, combined with the support of a remarkable family, loyal friends and the lasting spirit of my beloved Gordy,” Gibbs’ late wife Gloria. “I think Wally [Parks] would have been proud,” Gibbs continued. He thanked the team at Irwindale Speedway, members of The Road Kings, the In-N-Out family that has been part of his working life since nearly the beginning. “To the Gassers, AFX and 10.5 Group, to Isky, Snake, Linda, Who, Ace, Butch and the many other Hall of Famers who attended. Finally, to all the huge number of fans and friends who have been with us through this journey, we promise never to take your support for granted. “Plans are already in the works for 2022. Same weekend. I believe we have collectively accomplished what (the late) Ron Johnson and I had in mind in 2017, and will do our best to keep it alive and well. Too bad that it’s not likely to make the pages of National Dragster.” Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

When Steve Gibbs left the National Hot Rod Association in 2017, after being an integral part of the NHRA for 48 years, he had no idea of his next steps. It was difficult to depart a “calling” - not really a job - that he’d nourished since his teens, but Gibbs hasn’t ever been one to keep his focus on any rearview mirrors.

Never a mechanic, nor a driver, Gibbs has always had the ability to organize. And after working with NHRA founder Wally Parks and those that succeeded him, primarily in the competition department as its director, he had a mental Rolodex for every outstanding driver and car that’s competed in both amateur and professional NHRA racing.

Before his NHRA departure, it was Gibbs’ push that saw the completion of NHRA’s museum next door to the Fairplex site of this weekend’s NHRA World Finals, the contest that will crown 2021 champions. He was also responsible for the California Hot Rod Reunion, a race outside Bakersfield that he started in 1992 and one that continues to this day.

Gibbs’ love for the sport and its history was the impetus to begin the Nitro Revival, whose fourth iteration occurred the second weekend of November 2021. Gibbs, working with daughter Cindy, had intended to hold a late fall Revival in 2020, but that was scotched as the COVID-19 pandemic swelled throughout the United States.

The wait was worth it. The race, show and general get-together at Irwindale Speedway was just the thing for those who relish the sport of drag racing, from its California inception to its current-day massive productions.

There were opportunities to see, hear and smell the mechanical relics that are capable of producing relatively quick and fast speeds, together with their abilities to bring past glories to the present. Thanks to Gibbs’ abilities for organization, the two-day show ran exceptionally smoothly - and on time, for the most part.

Irwindale Speedway’s parking lot east of the oval track and adjacent to its 1/8-mile drag strip was chock-full of race cars, support vehicles, hot rods - and people, all of whom were exceptionally happy to be part of this gathering.

From the on-track action to the ability to get up-close with race cars, to meet and greet old friends - and make new ones - the two-day Nitro Revival was terrific. Starting early Saturday morning, the grounds filled completely with people and machinery.

There was an autograph session early Saturday afternoon where heroes of the sport, including 100-year-old Ed Iskenderian, Ed Pink, Don Prudhomme, Linda Vaughn, Ed “Ace” McCulloch, Tom Hoover, Rahn Tobler, Tommy Ivo and many, many more happily signed all manner of items brought for their attention.

Saturday night was capped with an amazing cacklefest that occupied the left lane of the drag strip, from the Christmas Tree to the timing lights. And Irwindale Speedway then set off “normal” fireworks, continuing to captivate the crowd, all of whom stayed for the spiritual reminder of early nitro-burning cars.

Sunday’s activities were a bit more laid-back, and were dedicated to competition - as befits any race meeting. Watching the cars on the track as they worked to contest the car in the next lane - along with their own frailties due to age - was a delight for all in attendance. There was also the highlight of a 1PM vehicle activation, where every race car on the premises was ignited and ran for at least five minutes. If that’s not a religious moment, what is?

Once it was all complete, Steve Gibbs and daughter Cindy made certain to thank all of their many volunteers, a “chosen” family who made sure Nitro Revival 4 ran smoothly and happily. Thanks to all of them, it did.

Gibbs reflected on the decision to leave NHRA after being part of that business for 48 years. “This past weekend at Irwindale has made it quite clear that the decision to “go it alone” was the right one,” for Gibbs. “‘Alone’ is not the correct word, however, as I have my daughter Cindy to keep the fire burning and the old man going, combined with the support of a remarkable family, loyal friends and the lasting spirit of my beloved Gordy,” Gibbs’ late wife Gloria.

“I think Wally [Parks] would have been proud,” Gibbs continued. He thanked the team at Irwindale Speedway, members of The Road Kings, the In-N-Out family that has been part of his working life since nearly the beginning. “To the Gassers, AFX and 10.5 Group, to Isky, Snake, Linda, Who, Ace, Butch and the many other Hall of Famers who attended. Finally, to all the huge number of fans and friends who have been with us through this journey, we promise never to take your support for granted.

“Plans are already in the works for 2022. Same weekend. I believe we have collectively accomplished what (the late) Ron Johnson and I had in mind in 2017, and will do our best to keep it alive and well. Too bad that it’s not likely to make the pages of National Dragster.”

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

Nitro Revival a Feast for All Four Senses

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About Anne Proffit 765 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

3 Comments on Nitro Revival a Feast for All Senses

  1. Steve Gibbs is a stand up guy. In 1977 my tickets at englishtown my tickets were stolen 5 event passes.Steve saw to it that they were replaced and I learned to keep the foors on the hauler LOCKED.Thanks Steve stay healthy!

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