Twilight Cruise brings out diehards

Stephen Gilson Jr.
Staff Writer

The National Hot Rod Association Motorsports Museum held its monthly Twilight Cruise event in Pomona last week. The event featured iconic muscle cars.

Twilight Cruise nights are held the first Wednesday of each month beginning April and ending with the annual toy drive in December.

Temperatures reached a high of 105 degrees for this month’s event. 

Turnout was lighter because of the heat wave, but those who did show seemed undeterred by the heat.

“It is the camaraderie of other folks out here who have similar vehicles or interest in vehicles that brings me here today,” said Stan Heling, the owner of a 1956 Ford F-100 truck. 

There were some notable classic muscle cars out at the event, including a light green 1962 Chevrolet Chevelle with beautiful black upholstery, along with a darker green 1962 Chevrolet Malibu parked side-by-side. On the other side of the event, there were two 1969 Ford Mustang Fastbacks, one of which was similar to the iconic 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 that was prominent in the “John Wick” movie franchise. Both vehicles featured the signature steep rear window and horizontal trunk lid.

However, it is important to note that popular muscle car brand Dodge unveiled their new generation of Charger models earlier this year. The Dodge Charger SRT “Banshee” is Dodge’s first attempt at curbing the use of fossil fuels in their future vehicles, as the Banshee is entirely electric.

It is also important to note that classic muscle cars and trucks are notorious for using large amounts of fuel in engines that were not made to be fuel-efficient. The state of California has stated that they plan to require the entire state to use zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

“No, I don’t think it’s going to happen because just the other day on the news it said, ‘Do not charge your electric vehicles because of the grid.’ I do not see it happening, I am not ready for an electric car,” said Brad Holtzman, the owner of a 1964 Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon.

Although Holtzman does not necessarily agree with the 2035 requirement of zero-emission vehicles, both Holtzman and Heling understand the appeal of an electric car. They both shared the story of a Tesla electric vehicle drag racing against one of the most popular muscle cars of this generation, the Dodge Charger SRT “Hellcat,” the predecessor of the before-mentioned Banshee.

The pair shared that the Tesla would give the Hellcat multiple seconds for a head start, and the Tesla beat the Hellcat every race. This is due to electric vehicles having a much more simple method of powering the car, the electric motor. According to drivespark.com, the electric motor uses only one gear to send full torque to the wheels at all speeds, allowing electric vehicles to accelerate to top speed much faster than internal combustion engines. 

Although the use of electric vehicles today makes much more sense in a world that is suffering due to climate change, it is hard to deny the style and culture these classic cars brought to the world.

“Well, it is like what Henry Ford said, it’s about making a car that any farmer can fix,” said Larry Johnson, the owner of a 1954 Buick Special, a car whose stylistic body was passed on to the now iconic 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.

What Johnson said seems to ring true today; all of the vehicles showed off at Twilight Cruising were running and in phenomenal condition. 

These vehicles also have a history in which these vehicles are able to be transformed into something completely different from what they were meant to be.

“It’s a ’56 Chevy. In the early 60s, there was drag racing, so they had a gasser classes,” said Hoss Nagel, the owner of a 1956 red Chevy Bel Air, with some early era racing decals. 

His vehicle was built to be stylized like a “gasser” car from the early era of drag racing. Some racers would lift the front end of the car to transfer more weight to the back wheels. They would do this because the technology of slick tires was not as good as it is today, so racers would do whatever they could to get an advantage in competition. Since more weight was transferred to the rear wheels, the rear tires would push more power, accelerating the car faster. Cars that took the most advantage of these modifications were rear-wheel drive vehicles, like Nagel’s Bel Air. 

The NHRA Motorsport Museum will host another Twilight Cruise night at 1101 W. McKinley Ave. in Pomona at 5 p.m. Oct. 5.

Stephen Gilson Jr. can be reached at stephen.gilson@laverne.edu.

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Stephen Gilson Jr. is a sophomore journalism major with a concentration in broadcast journalism. He played baseball and football in high school and is an avid sports enthusiast.

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