When it comes to reunions that celebrate the storied history of drag racing, there are few names that can rival the accomplishments of Frank Spittle.
His Top Fuel Motorcycle Reunion held in conjunction with the 2023 Wally Parks Nostalgia Nationals at Beech Bend Raceway Park in June of 2023 was a smashing success.
Spittle’s story in drag racing goes back to the 60’s and includes relationships that one could only dream of. As a young man, Spittle found himself paired with the likes of Danny Johnson, John Dixon, Elmer Trett, and Sonny Routt to name a few. Frank started his drag racing journey with gasoline in the tank but it wasn’t long until he was “tipping the can” and adding Nitromethane!
At a young age and due in large part to an employer that couldn’t spare him for a weekend, Frank found himself with a choice, go out on his own career wise and get to live his drag racing dreams, or keep plugging away as an employee. Frank stuck his neck out and turned to car sales as a vocation, opening his dealership selling classic and muscle cars. Over time the focus of the dealership turned to the Super Stock lightweights. Frank has bought and sold some of the rarest factory Super Stock Lightweights including a ‘64 Ford 427 Fairlane Thunderbolt, a ‘63 Pontiac 421 Catalina Super Duty “Swiss Cheese”, named for factory holes drilled in the frame to lighten it and numerous Mopar Max Wedge and Hemi lightweights!
As Frank’s dealership grew and his curation of these cars played out, it was natural that Frank begin to figure out a way to celebrate the people involved in campaigning these cars. Frank along with the support of his wife, Suzanne, made the decision to host a Super Stock Reunion. As a direct result of Frank’s efforts, it wasn’t long until the Super Stock Hall of Fame was born. Frank teamed up with Super Stock magazine and began the process of inducting 100 people into this new endeavor.
They made the decision that 20 people per year over the following 5 years would be inducted. Ballots were printed in the magazine and then Frank compiled the results, manually no less, choosing each year’s inductees based on public feedback. Even better about what Frank was up to, was that rather than just honor the drivers, they would include nominees from each aspect of a team effort.
Owners, builders, tuners, have all been honored. Franks efforts in this pursuit have been immortalized in the Don Garlits Drag Racing Museum with a full-scale mural thanks to the talented hands and vision of renowned photographer and artist, Joel Naprstek. Included as part of the mural are the names of all 100 inductees.
Fast forward to 2022, Frank felt that in order to write the final chapter of his legacy in Drag Racing Reunions, he needed to step up one more time and pay tribute again to the aspect of drag racing that played such an important role in his life, Top Fuel Motorcycle. As you might imagine, Frank’s contact list is a veritable who’s who of Top Fuel legends. It wasn’t long before a date was set and a venue chosen. With Frank’s influence and reputation, the NHRA wanted to be a part of it and felt that it paired perfectly with their June 2023 Nostalgia Nationals.
The risk to ego and reputation by hosting one of these types of affairs cannot be understated. There is much more than willingness and desire at play here. But again, because Frank is who he is, the turnout was everything he could have hoped for. The conversations and the hugs and the laughs were priceless. Folks that hadn’t seen each other in decades got to spend a couple of days catching up. Thank you to Johnny Vickers for his assistance in the event by coordinating the 4 bike field of Pro Fuel(Nostalgia style) competitors!
Jim Martin, Mary Dangrow, Sam White, and Richard Boone wowed the crowd with their side by side, carbureted, high gear Nitro burning machines! Additional thanks to Bob and Sid Chantland for their efforts in making this reunion such a success by bringing a large portion of their personal collection for display.
Frank has stated categorically that this is his last Reunion as a promoter. I plan on keeping my fingers crossed and being the persistent SOB that I was thanked for not long ago, in the hopes that we can continue to entice Frank and all of the others to lend their presence at another reunion, somewhere, sometime. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos that I captured over the weekend.
Thank you, Frank, for letting me be a part of one of the most incredible weekends that I have ever spent.