The Price Automobilia Collection is a museum that Rick Lorenzen created to honor the old and revered Lions Drag Strip that operated in Long Beach from October 9, 1955 to December 2, 1972. Lorenzen’s father started Price Transfer in 1959, the same year Rick graduated from Banning High School. Rick was a regular spectator at Lions Drag Strip. His memory of the fabled drag strip drove his desire to establish a museum and promote the memory of the track.
The Spirit of Lions Event was held on June 24, 2017 by Rick Lorenzen and the staff at Price Transfer. Assisting Lorenzen were Steve Gibbs, Dave Mandella, Ron Johnson, Steve Davis, and a host of friends, staff workers and family.
An estimated 600+ people came to the inaugural “Spirit of Lions” event. The interior size of the overall museum exceeds 50,000 square feet of space devoted to American cars and displays representing the 1920’s through the 1960’s.
Invited drag cars on display numbered nearly 100. Top Fuel dragsters included; Tommy Ivo, Howard’s Twin-Bears, Rod Stuckey’s ‘Chizler,’ ‘Dragmaster Two Thing,’ Kelly Brown, ‘Mooneyes,’ Allen Family ‘Stinger,’ Cook & Bedwell, Frank Cannon’s ‘Hustler VI,’ Walton-Cerny-Moody, Shirley Muldowney, Safford-Gaide-Ratican, etc. Funny cars were; “TV” Tommy Ivo F/C, Stone-Woods-Cook F/C, and others. Fuel Altereds included; Thomas-Pritchard-Harrison, Marcellus & Borsch, Bowers & Paris.
Other cars on display were; Jack Chrisman’s Sachs & Son Comet, Batmobile, Hill Alcala’s ‘Hunter Oil Company’ 1961 C Mod Roadster that Creighton Hunter drove, ‘War Horse’ driven by Rob Markowitz, Veney’s Vega, Ed Lenarth’s ‘Holy Toledo’, and many others.
Steve Gibbs was busy helping Rick Lorenzen and Rob Marchese with the program. Steve told me, “Rob Marchese is Rick’s right-hand-man, and deserves the majority of credit for making this happen.
His memory of the fabled drag strip drove his desire to establish a museum…
One touching moment was to see Dode Martin and Judy Thompson Creach meet again after almost 50 years. Judy was Mickey Thompson’s first wife and she and Mickey’s son, Danny Thompson, worked as manager and office staff at the Lions Drag Strip. Dode Martin was a partner with Jim Nelson in the Dragmaster brand of top fuel drag cars that they made and sold from their Oceanside shop.
Jim Nelson was the first National Tech Director for the NHRA. Mickey’s sister, Collene Thompson Campbell, and husband Gary were also present. There were over 30 ‘Cackle cars’ that were providing the outside entertainment. The majority were cars that actually raced at Lions.”
Tanis and Seth Hammond greeted me at the show; Tanis is one of the fastest women on earth, having gone over 300 miles per hour at Bonneville. Ed Iskenderian, who will turn 96 years of age, signed autographs and was interviewed by a video crew. Ed is still going strong and attends car shows and reunions nearly every weekend. Jerry Hart and Betty Belcourt were honored guests; Jerry’s father was C. J. Hart who managed Lions after Mickey Thompson. Darr Hawthorne and Chris Thomson were manning a booth with time sheets from Lions that Darr had rescued and carefully preserved.
Orah Mae Millar and her daughter Robin Millar were on hand to represent the artwork and cartooning of famous CARtoon artist Pete Millar. Jim Miller was in attendance; Jim is the president of the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians and a researcher and historian for www.ahrf.com. Steve Chrisman, the son of Jack Chrisman, represented the cars that were raced by his father and his cousin Art Chrisman.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2017 print issue of the Drive Magazine.