Springfest: Dodge muscle car owners gather at Pomona Fairplex

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- Spring time means Springfest for fans of late model Dodge and Chrysler muscle cars. It's a huge annual gathering in Southern California that started 14 years ago and has grown steadily ever since.

"We'll probably have 2,400 cars parked here. We've got folks coming from all over the country, including Hawaii, and we've got four people coming from Japan," said John Fortuno, the organizer of Springfest.

This year the event is being held in Pomona, and the "guest of honor" is the 2019 Dodge Challenger in various stages of factory high-performance tune. Even though the big coupe is now an older design, it keeps getting revisions to remain a hot seller. Last year, it outsold the Chevy Camaro, and late in 2018 it sold especially well.

"We've been kind of fine-tuning it, playing with the proportions. The Wide Body stance came along and really gave the car kind of a new lease on life," said Ralph Gilles, head of design at Dodge's parent company FCA, adding, "And the fact that you can order the car in colors that other manufacturers wouldn't even dream of making, makes it that much cooler."

Part of the fun at Springfest is that owners will be able to run their cars down Pomona's famous quarter-mile drag strip at Auto Club Raceway. Dodge let me hop in one of their cars and try my hand at it. I've watched a lot of drag racing, and raced on other kinds of tracks, but never actually went down a drag strip. I wasn't the fastest out here, but I was thrilled not to mess up, and to get the car down the track pretty quickly.

The original muscle car era has been referred to as "the good old days" for a very long time. After peaking in the early 1970s, the auto industry saw challenges in regard to emissions and safety, and cars lacked performance for quite a long time. Today's modern muscle cars, like the Challenger, the Ford Mustang, and the Chevy Camaro, actually perform much better. They also have better brakes and handling, and have comfort features like air conditioning, all while meeting today's emissions standards. In a way, these are "the good old days" once again.

And what about other technology to keep performance going? The engineers at Chevrolet came up with something out of left field for the Challenger's arch-rival Camaro last year. The eCOPO is a 700-horsepower drag car, and is completely electric. No, you can't buy one. At least not yet.
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