Car enthusiasts show off their wheels at final Orange Drag Strip Reunion

  • Classic cars on display at the Orange Municipal Airport on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Classic cars on display at the Orange Municipal Airport on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Pat Miller and her daughter-in-law, Sharon Miller, with their cars at the Orange Municipal Airport on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Stanley and Pat Miller with their 1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Len Chaloux with his 1966 Ford Fairlane GT. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 6/19/2022 4:43:38 PM
Modified: 6/19/2022 4:45:34 PM

ORANGE — Len Chaloux once owned two 1966 Ford Fairlane GTs, one for drag racing and one for street driving. He sold both cars to pay for a down payment on a house, but always missed the vehicles.

When Chaloux retired in 2019, he went on an 11-month-long mission to find his old friends. He found the car of his dreams in Florida in February 2020. But, buying it a month before the pandemic set in, he was unable to go to car shows. Now he brings his car across New England every weekend.

Chaloux was among the approximately 100 car owners at this year’s Orange Drag Strip Reunion car show that took place Saturday at the Orange Municipal Airport. Car enthusiasts from across the state and beyond flooded into the airport to show off their rides and talk shop.

The Orange Municipal Airport drag races were first held on July 18, 1954, when the Massachusetts Automotive Council got permission to use the airport for “acceleration trials.” The following year, the New England Timing Association took over and ran the drag races until the end of racing in Orange in 1970.

John Durfee was too young to watch the original races, but his sister was able to attend. He founded the reunion of this event in 2011. The reunion has continued since the start, traveling to different locations in past years and taking a hiatus in 2020 and 2021 amid the global pandemic.

Bernie Brouillet remembers going out to dinner across from the Orange Municipal Airport on Father’s Day Sunday in 1964, when he was 16 years old. As he sat with his family, he grew antsy hearing revving engines across the street from the drag racers.

“They were hitting speeds at 133 miles per hour,” Brouillet said. His enthusiasm for cars has not waned since.

“It makes you feel good when you take a piece of metal and it comes to life,” said Dave Chagnon, an attendee who showed his car at the event. Chagnon has owned his Chevrolet Chevette for nearly 50 years, having rebuilt it several times.

“Cars weren’t just to move you,” Chagnon said as he described car culture in the 1960s. “Cars were your fun.”

“I came because I always liked cars,” Stanley Miknait said, sitting in a camping chair in front of his 1964 Ford Falcon. “It has always been a good hobby. I used to street race as a kid.”

Miknait then showed his Falcon on display.

“I put my granddaughter in a car seat in this one,” he said.

Durfee, having retired and moved to Florida, said this Orange Drag Strip Reunion will be the last he organizes.

“If people want to take over the show and bring racing back, I would be very happy,” Durfee said. “This is the last show for me.”

Contact Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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