The cackle of the 3000-horsepower racing machines reverberates through the ears, the flames leap out of the engines in the dusk of the summer evening, the smell of nitro fuel permeates the air, and the mind recalls the legends of the famed Lions Drag Strip, as a dozen vintage Top Fuel dragsters simultaneously fire up their engines in the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Carson Street.
This unique grand finale is a highlight for thousands of racing and car show fans at the Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo and Car Show, which will celebrate its fifth year on Saturday, July 10 from 3pm to 9pm on Atlantic Avenue between Carson Street and San Antonio Drive.
The Lions Drag Strip, which operated on the outskirts of Long Beach from 1955 until 1972, still captures the imagination of racing fans for the many noteworthy events and legendary figures that raced there. Many of the famous cars will be featured at the Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo and Car Show, including the Yeakel Plymouth Special, the Mastercar, the Bankamericar, and Poison Ivy.
The Dragster Expo and Car Show, which is free to the public, will feature more than 200 classic and specialty cars and hot rods, live music on two stages, kids’ activities, a beer garden and many food and vendor booths.
New to this year’s event is the Summer Movie Drive-In, a 13-foot by 10-foot LED-screen that will be showing classic footage from the Lions Drag Strip and racing movies throughout the day. There will also be an art exhibit in Gallery Expo entitled “California’s Cool Car Culture,” and a classic Mazeratti will be artistically painted during the event. Racing fans may also have their pictures taken behind the wheel of a Firestone open-wheel racecar, as a benefit for the Long Beach Special Olympics, which will receive the net proceeds from the event.
The event is a part of the Long Beach Sea Festival and is produced by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, in cooperation with the Office of Eighth District Councilwoman Rae Gabelich.