This website is of the history of the Stephens & Venables AA/FD restoration as the car is finished from being restored by Rip and Natalie Wiley out of Tennessee. Not only is this site created for the restoration but of all the cars that were campaigned by Stephens & Venables along with a look back in time of South Central Drag Racing.


For Photos of 2009 Bowling Green (click)

6/19/08 Photo's From 2008 Bowling Green

Finally at last!
What a time had by all as the car made it's first appearance, along with the original owners,
as Dick Venables and Steve Stephens were reunited once again for memory lane.

 Dick Venables getting ready for his 1st Cackle
Natalie Wiley and Rip Wiley along side


After the cackle, what else would put you next to Heaven after
sitting behind a Fuel motor, Preston Davis on the left.

If this doesn't look like a kid in a candy store, I don't know what does.
36 years later Steve Stephens sitting back in the same cockpit.

Not for sure what size the helmet was, but no matter how big it was.
I bet Steve's head was bigger!!!

Dickie Venables and Steve.
My guess on the conversation is about seeing if Tony Pedregon has
a few spare motors and a few bucks to throw around so he can make
a few passes, at least just one more time.

Dickie Venables getting some seat time cackle.

Dick Venables probably signed more autographs this one weekend than
he ever has since he began his racing career.


Steve Stephens and Dick Venables after the Cacklefest

(left to right) Natalie Wiley, Dick Venables, Steve Stephens, Eddie Wilbanks and Rip Wiley

Dick Venables Cackle

Steve Stephens Cackle

Dickie Venables Cackle

Push Start

Rip and Natalie have poured 4 years of Blood, Sweat and Tears completing
this project and the end result was beyond anything that anyone could Imagine.
They would like to thank the people listed below because, without them this
would not have been possible.

Eddie Wilbanks, motor, body & pain assistance
Preston Davis, motor
Mike Kuhl, fuel system
Rick and Michael Neal, paint and lettering
George and Brandon Barker, body work
Danny Cianciola, trailer and tow vehicle
Don Schenzel, push car
Tom Talley, rearend
Dick Venables
Steve Stephens
Raymond Godman
John Callies
Rick's Powder Coating
Don's Upholstery
Joe Hale
Bobby Desjardins
Steve Gurley
Henry Perry
Johnny `Red' Myrick
Mark Davis
Scott Davis
All of our family and friends that have supported us during the restoration
and those who came to Bowling Green to support us during our debut

4/05/08 Photo's From the Past

The car is in the final stages of completion and if all goes well and
the car will make it's 1st debut at Bowling Green, KY in June for it's
1st Cacklefest along with the original car owners
Dick Venables and Steve Stephens, HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL THERE!!

Making progress from this to the fire up below

Picking up the car from Indy during the snow.

Repaired nose piece, as you cat ell from the photos above,
it has seen it's better days.

The  pictures above are a few modifications done at Rooman's shop.

Eddie Wilbanks welding a mount for the throttle peddle.

The Masters at work, of course with Rip on the left Supervising.


4/25/06 Photo's From the Past

The 4 photos below are courtesy of Mark Collins taken
at the Dallas International Drag strip in 1971.


The 4 photos below are courtesy of James Fullingim taken
at the 1971 World Finals in Amarillo Texas


3/14/06 Update

Well, as you can tell from the website, our project has been on hold for a while.  We haven’t made many updates because for a long time there wasn’t any news.

When we bought the car, we used money that was supposed to build our dining room and sun room.  I agreed to buying the car and said the addition could wait.  Well, 2004 was the time for building.  However, what was supposed to be a quick contracted job turned into a slow no-show contractor job.  Needless to say, Rip and I ended up firing the contractors and did the work ourselves.  It took a while since we could only work on it nights and weekends.  But that’s not what you want to hear about, is it?

In June 2004, we took the car to Bowling Green to the Nostalgia Drags.  We met a lot of nice people.  Some had even seen the Stephens and Venables team race the car.

In November 2004, we were honored to be asked to display the car at the Memphis Rodders Association’s yearly banquet.  There are a few pictures from the event attached.  I’m sure you’ll recognize Mr. Ray Godman, Preston Davis, Eddie Wilbanks, Amy Falk, Clay Millican and others.

November 2004 through April 2005 was the house project.  The rest of 2005 was spent playing catch-up on everything and stock piling motor parts for the dragster.  We now have enough stuff to build a Hemi for our ’53 Chevy—another project for another year.  We wouldn’t know how to act if we didn’t have projects waiting in the wings.

2006:  The Year of the Dragster

We’ve sent motor parts all over the USA to get them “dialed in” and reworked.  I don’t even ask where the money is going anymore.  It’s easier to write the checks and not think about it.  Have I mentioned that we had to sell the house and move into the car trailer to fund the project?  Just kidding, we’ve not gone that far—yet.

We’re hoping to have all components back and the motor together and ready to crank by the end of March 2006.  YIPPEE!!

I can imagine us making passes down our cove already!  It will be great to actually hear the car running instead of sitting it in and playing CDs of dragsters doing burn outs and making passes.  Don’t laugh, I’m sure some of you reading this have done the same thing.

Once the motor is ready, it will time to complete the body work and add paint.

We plan to be cackling in Bowling Green in June.  We are hoping that Mr. Stephens and Mr. Venables will be there to drive the car in the Cacklefest.  After all, it really is their car.  We just happen to own it.  There will be plenty of time for us to enjoy it.

See you in June, Natalie


Preston Davis


Preston Davis working on the block under the watchful eye of Eddie Wilbanks


Joe Lunati signing a dragster cowling with John Callies looking on


Car on Display


Amy Faulk , Rip & Natalie Wiley


Natalie Wiley, Preston Davis, Rip Wiley, Ray Godman & Clay Millican


It was a beautiful day—sunny and clear, temperature in the upper 70’s,  Nitro and smoke in the air, the sound of burn-outs and racing in the background.  Old race cars, new street rods—this was the place to be, Bowling Green, Kentucky at the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion-June 2003.  Yep, this is the place to be and there’s my dream car or so I thought.It’s beautiful.  An original front engine dragster.  Yeah, it’s

real alright and in really good shape.  It was about 170 inches or so long and set up for Junior Fuel, a small block Chevy, zoomies and a blower.  It was stripped down to the bare aluminum but, had a real-deal Tom Hanna emblem!  With some work and cubic dollars it could have a HEMI in it!  AND it had a “For Sale sign on it!  But what was I thinking, I/we couldn’t afford that.  Back to earth, let’s .................. the rest of the story

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Last updated 7/1/09, by Gary Osborn