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Gasser Cruise Night - Cruisin' Grand

Car Craft Magazine Night In Conjunction With Gasser Night At Cruisin' Grand Avenue In Escondido, California

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Like women's hemlines or the latest hip trend in the fickle world of hot cars, if you wait long enough, the old stuff has a way of comin' back. Since there's apparently no organized cruise in San Diego, you have to drive north to the little town of Escondido, California, for Cruisin' Grand. Our first visit to this hot spot was way back in 1979 when Car Craft turned the town upside down for a night. We had strategically called friends weeks before with a date when the magazine would show up to do a story that appeared in the Feb. '80 issue. The locals still talk about that night.

After a police crackdown on cruising that lasted for a couple of decades, the car people found themselves in a position to effect change roughly a decade ago. Steve Waldron owns a small business on Grand Avenue, and he knew if he could attract the car people, everybody else would follow-and the combination would bring excitement back to downtown. He convinced the city fathers and police that inviting his car buddies would be a good thing. Since then, Cruisin' Grand has been building on its success. We first returned to witness the '60s vintage Top Fuelers rattle the windows during a cacklefest we covered in our Mar. '07 issue ("Cruisin' USA," page 78).

This time, we're back to soak up Car Craft Magazine Night on Cruisin' Grand, an evening the magazine gladly shared with a dedicated group of A/FXers, one of whom came from as far away as Salt Lake City. How much fun do they have on Grand? It's clear that Steve works this deal pretty hard, since Kragen-O'Reilly auto parts sponsors the Friday night cruises all summer long. And if you listen carefully to the music over the loudspeakers, you can pick out two songs written specifically about Cruisin' Grand. Does the Woodward Cruise have its own song? These folks are serious about having fun and it shows. Between the Gassers and the street cars, we met some great enthusiasts and hung out with our friends Doug Eisberg, Eric Schmiege, Craig Camp-man, and the rest of the North County Street Machines crew. It was like coming home.

A/FXers on the Boulevard
Last time we attended the Cruisin' Grand show, we were treated to a sequence of '60s front-engine Top Fuel cars cackling away on a side street. This time, we took in a slew of gassers and factory experimental cars from the mid-'60s. At the front of the line was Jack Hazelgren's re-creation of the black Emmet Austin '64 Fairlane with its injected SOHC 427 Ford power. Jack says he owns the original car but has more fun with the re-creation since he doesn't stress about hurting it. This is the way the car was raced in 1966. He also owns a SOHC-powered '63 1/2 lightweight Galaxy.

Alongside the black Fairlane was John Richmond's mechanically fuel-injected small-block '65 Mercury Comet. He races this car quite often and recently won an F/X show at Bakersfield. The motor is a 363ci Hilborn-injected small-block running 10s at 132 mph racing the big-block cars. Other machines on the street that night included the Outer Limits Hemi A/FXer and a '51 Mopar Concord with a Hemi in it. Great fun.

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