Forty years ago, a young kid of a filmmaker decided he was gonna stick a finger in the eye of the Hollywood Establishment and make a movie based on stuff he knew about, on his terms, in his old stomping grounds and anyone who said he couldn’t do it could suck it.
In 1972, George Lucas set about making a movie about his own high school years in Modesto, CA. But much of the film about hot rods and girls and cruising and music and uncertainty and bravado and fun and drinking and girls and cars and girls and cars, including the final dawn race on Paradise Road, was shot much further west in Petaluma (as well as the Mel’s Diner in San Francisco, locations in Mill Valley and Sonoma). By the time American Graffiti was released the following year, the backers never imagined the low-budge flick would break even, much less become one of the most beloved and profitable films of all-time.
Forty years later, the yellow Deuce 5-window known simply as “the Milner Coupe,” is still owned by a San Francisco fireman and was brought out once again for the annual celebration of the movie in Petaluma. But this time, it was staged against a certain black ’55 Chevy for one more race down Paradise Road. Sorta.
Nomads Robbie Morris and Dave Tanimura trucked out to Petaluma the other night when we heard a vicious rumor that the most famous street race in the history of hotrodding was gonna be staged one more time at Midnight on Frates Road – the real-world stretch used to represent the original Paradise Road in Modesto.
Did the race happen? You’ll have to wait on that one, but for now, nerd out on some footage Morris nabbed at some point before Midnight on Tuesday in downtown Petaluma…
Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.