Some years ago I was working at the SO-CAL Speed Shop when we were working with Holley and dabbling in the import business selling NOS. I really enjoyed the experience because it gave us an insight into a whole different group of hot rodders who were doing exactly to Hondas what previous generations had done to early Fords.
This parallel universe was exposed to me when I met the Bergenholtz brothers, Ed and Ron. Of Filipino and German decent, Ed and Ron were drag racing a Honda CRX and making quite the name for themselves when they revolutionized the sport by installing wheelie bars … on a front-wheel drive racer. People still ask, “How does that work?” Well, it prevents weight transfer to the rear. Being FWD, of course you want the weight on the front.
In May 1999, the brothers realized their goals and ran an astonishing 9.76 at 147.1 mph at the now-defunct Los Angeles Raceway at Palmdale, Calif. They had the first production-based, uni-body FWD car in the nines.
Four decades earlier and totally unknown to the Bergenholtz’ the Pierson brothers, Dick and Bob, did much the same thing with their $25 ’34 Coupe – driving it, tuning it and racing it until it became the benchmark of the day. Bob and Dick were equally innovative when their engine builder, Bobby Meeks of Edelbrock, suggested that the 7-inch minimum windshield height rule could be bent by chopping the top and leaning back the windshield. It was low, but still 7 inches tall. The chop gave them a whole new profile.
With a Meeks-built flathead, the Coupe set a record at 142.98 mph. However, the story of the Pierson brothers’ Coupe was far from over. The car changed hands and colors numerous times until Tom Bryant got hold of it in 1980. Tom made over 100 passes at Bonneville before retiring it having achieved a fastest speed ever of an amazing 227.33 mph.
As for Ed and Ron, they’re still racing, although more often drifting. After retiring the CRX they partnered with Mazda to create the NHRA’s quickest and fastest FWD import going 7.25 at 198 mph. However, with the demise of import drags they switched to drifting and running a Mazda RX8 are currently in the top ten. Quite an achievement. For more information about the Bergenholtz Brothers so to www.bergenholtzracing.com (http://www NULL.bergenholtzracing NULL.com)
To see the exhibit featuring the Pierson Bros. Coupe, now owned by Bruce Meyer, and the Bergenholtz Bros. CRX visit the Parks Museum, Pomona, Calif. For further information about exhibits and events at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, visit our website at http://museum.nhra.com (http://museum NULL.nhra NULL.com/) or call 909.622.2133.