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Lions Video documentary to be released at NHRR this weekend. (1 Viewer)


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Contact: 276-386-9120
[email protected]


(October 3, 2006) – The long awaited release of an in-depth video documentary covering one of the sport’s more famous racetracks will occur this weekend, when “LIONS – THE GREATEST DRAG STRIP” is made available (on DVD) during the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, California (October 6-8).

Part One chronicles the first half of the legendary Long Beach, California facility, from its inception with speed king, Mickey Thompson, as first manager in 1955, through mid-1962, after lifting of the infamous “fuel ban”
– and a return to nitro drag racing.

Nearly two hours in length (1-HR., 55-MINS.), the documentary was created and produced by Don Gillespie, a 30-plus year drag racing photojournalist who got his start at the infamous quarter-mile facility.

“As a youth, I experienced Lions during its heyday, but was never been able to let it go from my emotional rear-view mirror,” Gillespie began.

“Given the track’s magical atmosphere and important contributions, I made the decision years ago to capture and share its stories and powerful imagery for the benefit of all who experienced it firsthand, plus those who’ve simply heard about this marvelous, iconic drag racing temple.”

The massive project required several years of careful research, interviews, materials archiving and digital transfers, with many rare and seldom seen photographs, plus novice and professional films uncovered. Among the unique “finds” is 16mm footage of the track being built in its earliest stages, plus the sport’s first “live” TV broadcast, which was seen in thousands of Los Angeles area homes from Lions on station KTTV in September, 1961.

All told, more than 30 racers and key figures are either interviewed, or make on-camera speaking appearances, such as C.J. Hart, Art Chrisman, Fritz Voigt, (Mickey’s 1st wife) Judy and (son) Danny Thompson, Larry Sutton, Chet Herbert, “TV” Tommy Ivo, Frank “Ike” Iacono, Joe Reath, Ed Iskenderian, Gene Adams, John Force, plus (from the KTTV show) Allen “Lefty” Mudersbach, Mickey Thompson, Bob Muravez, Jack Chrisman, Gary Cagle, plus many others.

While this weekend’s attendees in Bakersfield will have the first opportunity to acquire the video, the “Lions – The Greatest Drag Strip” DVD will be available to consumers on a combination of Internet sites,
including: www.lionsvideo.com, immediately thereafter.

For more information, please contact Don Gillespie at; email:
[email protected], or via phone: 276-386-9120, or write to: Lions DVD, 111 Charleston Street, Weber City, VA

George Crittenden
Drag Racing Heritage Foundation


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This will be a MUST HAVE for any drag racing fan. Especially those of us who were there. Just awesome!!


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I know what I'm GETTING ME this weekend! I've been waiting for YEARS for this to be finished!:) :) :D :eek:


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For all the folks that are sick and tired of us oldtimers ranting and raving about 'The Golden Age' of drag racing you've GOT to find a copy of Gillespie's opus to Lions Drag Strip. This is one of the best drag racing oriented DVDs that I've ever had the pleasure to watch. A very professional and very well packaged picture of what the sport was like in it's VERY early years. This DVD is a MUST for those that were around for that time period of anyone that cares about the history of the sport. BTW, the $25 price tag is more than offset when I got to watch Bill Welsh interview Gary Cagle and some snot nosed kid that passed himself off as our very own Troy Cagle. This kid was a ham even back in 1961 when KTTV went to Lions to do a 90 minute live show. The DVD has about 15 minutes of Welsh asking Mickey Thompson all those questions that a first timer to the races has to endure. The DVD even has film of the construction of Lions. My only question is how long am I going to have to wait to see 'Lions--part 2'. This DVD, part 1, ends in about 1962. I want the rest NOW!!! Please hurry Don!


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Mark and I just watched this last night. I can't emphasize enough how extremely well done this is. A must have documentary, and we can not wait to see part II.

Kudos to Don Gillespie on a terrific job on this piece!
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