And, following suit of years past with guest appearances by classic-period icons, actress Erin Moran attended Thursday’s drag races in the west parking lot of John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
Moran, known for her role as Joanie Cunningham on the 1970s television sitcom “Happy Days,” sat inside a 1931 Ford Model A as it charged across the runway, clutching onto her seat the entire ride.
“What a rush, what a rush,” Moran repeated as she exited the vehicle, panting.
The drag race event transformed the parking lot into a sprawling racetrack, with several vendors and eateries amassed along the sidelines.
The 50-year-old former TV star was there interviewing contestants in the drag races for the Hot August Nights staff.
“I get to interview the drivers of all the cars when they’re done racing,” she said.
Moran said this is her first time attending Hot August Nights, but that the event is already leaving an impression on her.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s something new for me and I’m having a lot of fun.”
A love for classic cars and the desire to get out of her home in Texas brought her to the event, she said. So far, the drag races have been her favorite part of the festival.
Moran wasn’t the only person enjoying the races. People in the crowd were excited to hear that one of their favorite characters was in their midst.
“She was great,” said Murray Berry, who came from Vancouver, Canada, to take part in the event’s action. “She was the girl next door. I really enjoyed her character.”
Another person in the audience, Howard Adamson from Dayton, said Moran’s presence brought back fond memories of one of his favorite shows growing up.
“Fonzie, the Fonz, Richie … they were all pretty cool,” he said. “All the shows nowadays trying to depict the ’50s are copycats. They’re trying, but I don’t think those days will ever come back.”
For others, Moran was a reminder of a show that captured the same nostalgia that brought them to the event.
“It was a show about the era,” Washington state resident Rich Elbon said. “It was about the ’50s, about being happy. It was a happy time. At least that’s what the family portrayed.”