First Friday Magic On Main Includes Dragster

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The candy apple red and pearl-white, front-engine dragster that will be in front of Bootleg Alley during November's First Friday Art and Antiques Walk first caught attention on racetracks in the 1960s.

"In its era, it ran 200 mile-per-hour passes in the seven second range," the dragster's owner, Wayne Michelizzi, said.

He purchased his dream machine from a man who rescued it from a barn in Escondido, Calif.

That man made the dragster look good.

Michelizzi, an automotive technician at Chapman, rebuilt the fuel injector hat that sits on top of the engine and replaced the fuel cell nozzles. He flow-tested the fuel pump and calibrated the fuel system to the pump.

"I would love to be able to run it on a track," Michelizzi said.

Its age means it would need a tech inspection and it probably not pass updated safety rules.

"Race cars, at the time it was built, were primitive and dangerous. A lot of people died in cars like these," he said.

By comparison, the top fuel dragsters of today no longer have engines in the front, and run 4.45 seconds at 330 miles per hour.

Michelizzi just returned from hauling his dragster to a "cackle fest" in California, where he showed it off to other car nostalgia buffs.

He displayed the dragster on the show floor at Chapman Auto Center during rodeo weekend.

Making it street-legal would ruin its value.

He plans to use it to draw a crowd to businesses to increase sales.

This is Michelizzi's first rail-type dragster. He also owns a 1969 stock automatic drag car.

Ever since he watched the Northstar National races in Minnesota when he was 11 years old, it has been Michelizzi's "dream" and "passion," to chase ownership of a dragster.

"I moved here to race more because the slicks don't stick in the snow," the Duluth, Minn. transplant said he tells people.

Slicks refer to a dragster's rear tires. They are made of solid rubber and have no treads.

Brenda and Ken Mooney, owner of Bootleg Alley invited Michelizzi to show off his dragster, because cars are a part of Main Street First Fridays.

Classic cars will also be on display on the East end of Main Street at Gasoline Alley, and further west on Main at the Oxbow Saloon, sports cars will be displayed.

The First Friday Art and Antiques walk kicks off at 5 p.m., Nov. 2.

Other highlights include:

  • A KRIM radio remote at Eagle Mountain Gifts;
  • Rock-tumbling demonstrations at Galarneau's Gems;
  • The Joe Miracle Band will perform at The Artists of the Rim, where there will also be an array of artistic Christmas decorations;
  • Body Elegance Day Spa will give free tours of their historic building;
  • The Main Street Grille is offering specials on their heated patio;
  • The Kiwanis Club's hot dogs and brats will be at Gasoline Alley, along with a display of classic cars;
  • A reception at Down the Street Gallery for silversmith Tim Hummer and painter Albert Goldman;
  • Community Presbyterian Church is having a bake sale, a silent auction for items created by children and will again offer handcrafted items from around the world.

As in past events, there will be on-street parking and most merchants will offer free refreshments. This gathering on Main Street is free of charge.

The Payson Main Street Merchants Guild welcomes vendors, car clubs and music makers of all kinds to be a part of this event at no cost.

For more information, call Gasoline Alley at (928) 595-0573 or Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art at (602) 859-0507.

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