PENDLETON - A motley crew of Ford Model A cars assembled Tuesday at an open stretch of airport tarmac to show their stuff.
Tires screeched and old engines bellowed as drivers of pickups, roadsters, sedans and more took their turn to haul across a 1/10th-of-a-mile straightaway as fast as possible.
Though the cars were pressing 80 years old, they still had push. Some more than others.
Don Wurtz, coordinator of the event, appeared casual as he charged down the track, elbow hanging out the window of his red 1931 pickup.
He took no time between his two final runs, circling right back to the starting line.
"Get it over with," he yelled out, before taking off again.
Donald and Daniel Giannini, father and son from Spokane, each had two tries to earn the fastest time for their yellow 1932 pickup, sporting a Cragar overhead engine that let off a smooth whine at top acceleration.
Donald drove first, struggling slightly to hold down traction as he sped along.
"The trick is coming off the line and not spinning your tires," he said after his runs. "Each time you fool around with your car, try to make it better."
Daniel went next, having to quickly readjust the shifter that came loose after his first trial, which was the car's fastest at about 9.7 seconds.
Jim Brierley of Temecula, Calif., was pleased to have driven the winning time in his class. His car is a green 1928 speedster with a flathead engine. He finished at about 10.3 seconds, driving 51.30 miles per hour.
"The second run was just a little quicker than the first," Brierley said, explaining he also drove his two trials right together. "They run better when they're a little warmed up."
Brierley said he became interested in Model A racing during his youth, when he used to go and watch drag races. The Model A owners, he said, were a more friendly bunch than the rest.
"Nobody wanted you to look and see what they were doing, except for the guys with Model A's," he said.
One of the more amusing sights was a 1928 sedan with enormous tractor-sized tires, part of the exhibition class. Both times it jolted a bit into the air before taking off.
"It does that lift thing at the beginning," said driver George Vincent of Yakima. "After that it's not so exciting."
He managed to accelerate to 31 miles per hour, crossing the finish line at about 16.5 seconds.
Vincent's car actually was an old U.S. mail delivery truck from North Dakota, containing a small wood stove in the back that Vincent removed for the time trials.
Twenty-four cars were registered to participate, although not all showed up.
"It's a great turnout. And I believe everybody enjoyed it," said Wurtz.
The trials were one part of an ongoing Model A convention that continues through Sunday.