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UPDATED: Naval Air Station hosts annual Fleet Week Speed Festival Sept. 25-26

On-base custom car show in San Diego expected to draw thousands

Posted: August 30, 2010 1:09 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2010 1:09 p.m.

SAN DIEGO -- It's recognized as the birthplace of naval aviation, but on Sept. 25-26, Naval Air Station North Island will highlight a different type of machine as 250 prestigious historic racecars gather for the 13th annual Fleet Week Coronado Speed Festival.

Known as the "Race at the Base," the Fleet Week Coronado Speed Festival features nine different race groups divided according to make, age and horsepower.

The cars race at high speeds on a spectator-friendly 1.7-mile course constructed in mere days on the runways and taxiways of the military base.

The track is set against the stunning backdrop of San Diego Bay.

This year's marque will celebrate the rich race heritage of Shelby American cars, from the legendary Cobra -- the result of Carroll Shelby's bid to build the world's fastest production car -- and the Daytona Coupe to the GT40 and GT350.

These amazing vehicles have always pushed the envelope of performance and promise a thrill for event spectators.

At Riverside In October 1962, Billy Krause raced the first Cobra for the first time in a motorsports competition. Krause will race again at the Coronado Speed Festival, this time in a 1964 Cobra.

Veteran driver Scooter Patrick will race a 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster that he originally drove in the 1960s. Patrick holds numerous championship victory titles, including the 1968 American Road Race of Champions National Championship title, driving a Porsche, and victory at the final Can-Am race at Road America in 1974 in a McLaren.

Retired air force veteran Duane Norman was in a motorsports accident in 1970 that left him wheelchair bound. He refused to give up on his love of racing, and today pilots an adapted 1973 Datsun 510 with a custom hand controlled system that he drives with his palms. His disability has never slowed him down; in fact, he won the 2002 CCSCC Solo Competition Championship in the same Datsun 510.

Racing is often a family affair, and Al Arciero has certainly followed in his father's footsteps. Arciero hails from motorsports royalty: his father, Frank Arciero Sr., formed his first auto-racing team in 1957, and his teams have included some of the best drivers in the history of Indy car racing, among them Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney and Michael Andretti. Look for Al Arciero in a 1959 Lister Chevrolet.

And finally, take note of Greg Johnson behind the wheel of his 1955 Austin Healey 100S. Only 55 aluminum-bodied 100S Austin Healey racing cars were constructed by Donald Healey, and Johnson's Chassis 3805 is considered one of the most original of the rare 100S Healeys to survive.

Overall, nine different race groups will take to the racetrack, each divided according to make, age and horsepower.

Aside from being set up on a live Naval tarmac, one of the event's most distinct features is its open paddock, which allows fans the opportunity to walk right up to the cars and interact with the drivers and crew.

The family friendly event also presents a car club exhibit featuring more than 1,200 cars, a stunning array of military static displays and a vendor midway.

The Fleet Week Coronado Speed Festival is first and foremost an event that pays tribute to and honors the men and women of our military.

The festival offers free admission for active duty military and their dependents.

The general public is welcomed onto the base for a weekend of racing, making it the only open house offered by the Navy on the West Coast.

Tickets for the Coronado Speed Festival are on sale.

To learn more, visit

About the San Diego Fleet Week Foundation
The Coronado Speed Festival is the marquee event for Fleet Week San Diego.

The San Diego Fleet Week Foundation is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation.

In addition to honoring the military services through the annual Fleet Week events, the Foundation's goals are to foster awareness of the contributions made by enlisted military personnel and their families, to enhance relationships between the civilian, business and military communities, to provide events that Military personnel and their families can attend at little or no cost, and to raise funds for charitable efforts benefiting enlisted service members and their families.

For more information, or for a complete listing of all of the Fleet Week events, please visit or you can find us on Facebook at or follow us on twitter at


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