Drag Racing Legends and Historians John and Don Ewald

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Don Ewald's Mastercar dragster
Don Ewald's Mastercar dragster
We did it for love. It's a line that many athletes from sports yesteryear have uttered. But for drag racing legends and historians John and Don Ewald, the phrase takes a whole new meaning. The brother's website,, is the Internet's ultimate visual encyclopedia for drag racing enthusiasts.
John Ewald's John Buttera built BankAmericar dragster
John Ewald's John Buttera built BankAmericar dragster

The brother's involvement in drag racing dates back to the sports glory days in Southern California, at places like Lion's Drag Strip. Don got John interested at a car show, and the two would embark on a journey that continues today.

"Don got to be the hero driver and my roll with the dragster was financial and publicity," John said. "After going regularly to Lions with the car club I started shooting photos of our members cars, this led to CJ "Pappy" Hart offering me the position of track photographer."

That's where John's career took off. As the Internet began to explode in popularity, John and Don decided to start a website, a place that could become a meeting ground for legends and fans to come together and share stories and memories. The site started in 1998, and has since added more than 180,000 photos. While membership to the site has struggled in the down economy, We Did It For Love remains a popular meeting ground for racers.

Over the last decade, nostalgia racing began to make a meteoric ascent in popularity, and the Ewald brothers decided it would be a good chance to get back to working on cars as well. They have since restored three cacklefest cars, cars built to fired up at exhibitions and put on display.

"The last one I restored was Gary Ritter's Blood, Sweat & Nitro," John said. "This full bodied car was built in 1968 by Jim Davis and is the only surviving car of its type. Gary won several races at his home track of Freemont Drag Strip in it."

Ewald added this car to his collection that includes the BankAmericar and Mastercar. Blood, Sweat & Nitro has been on display at the NHRA Museum in Pomona, Calif. and is for sale.

When asked about the people who have meant the most to the brothers over the years, they both rattled off lists of drag racing legends that could hardly be rivaled.

"John Buttera built us the best car we've ever had, the BankAmericar," Don said. "Working with Keith Black (of Greer-Black-Prudhomme dragster fame) for six years was invaluable. C.J. "Pappy" Hart, who gave me a job, or in other words let me volunteer, when I was first starting in racing. There are so many that come to mind that I've been lucky enough to know in my 45 years in racing."

John echoed Don's sentiments on Hart. "I would have to agree with Don and put Pappy Hart at the top of my list. He gave me the opportunity to be the Lion's Drag Strip photographer, which set up my successful career. Pappy also was a great teacher in the way he brought out the best in everyone. He taught us values, sportsmanship, fairness and patriotism."

For the Ewald brothers, Auto Club Raceway at Famoso has now become their home away from home. The historic March Meet and the California Hot Rod Reunion are can't miss events that allow the brothers to get together with their racing friends and share great moments.

"For us, the Hot Rod Reunion is the one event we'd have to be dead to miss," John said. "It is truly a reunion intertwined with a race. The reunion has reunited hundreds of old friendships as teams for racing and cacklefest. Sadly each year it is the last time we see some of our old friends as time takes it toll."

K&N Filters is proud to have partnered with the Ewald's restored cackle cars. When asked why they choose to be affilitated with K&N, John had an easy answer.

"Simply every product K&N makes is the best way to get the most out of our engines while protecting those expensive parts from damage. We proudly display the K&N logo."

Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.

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