This was the 26th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield, CA. The highly anticipated event began with light morning rain that soon made way for an afternoon filled with quarter-mile nitro racing and just a taste of what was to come for the next two days.
Thousands of spectators filled Auto Club Famoso Raceway to enjoy comfortable weather, racing royalty, cool cars, and amazing nostalgia drag racing. This race not only produced winners for this event but also wrapped up the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage series season. Despite the runner-up finish, Murphy was crowned the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel world champion by winning in the semifinals.
Over 200 racers, including 10+ Top Fuel Dragsters and over 30 Top Fuel Funny Cars participated in the event. There was a lot to do aside from racing: vendors, a big swap meet, silent auction, lots of good food, and lots of cool street rods in the “Famoso Grove”. With so much going on, you can’t see it all in only 3 days!
The Honorees came from all aspects of the sport, including Bakersfield native, Grand Marshal Rick Stewart, with Honorees, Pete Eastwood, Bill Holland, Bob Lambeck, Bob Panella, Sr., and Jimmy Scott were presented, before the famous Cacklefest, with a parade down the track with introductions by former voice of the NHRA and a legend in his own right, Bob Frye.
Over 200 racers, including 10+ Top Fuel Dragsters and over 30 Top Fuel Funny Cars participated in the event
Saturday evening featured the famous “Cacklefest@” featuring over 20 classic Top Fuel dragsters that produced a sight and sound like no other as they returned to a format familiar to the fans and participants. Popular exhibition push starts throughout each day added excitement. This “Living Museum” was an explosion of hot rods, nostalgia cars, racing, friends, and drag racing legends.
This Reunion brought out some big names in the sport including Gary Densham, Bob Frey, Greg Sharp, Mike English, Mike Lewis, John Force, Cory Lee, Robert Hight. It was a special treat for fans but for the NHRA pros, the Reunion was their time to enjoy some nostalgia drag racing and meet some of their heroes like Tom McEwen, Don Prudhomme, Rick Stewart, Ed Iskendarian, Roland Leong, and Tommy Ivo.
Thanks for the Show!!
This “Living Museum” was an explosion of hot rods, nostalgia cars, racing, friends, and drag racing legends
…the Reunion was their time to enjoy some nostalgia drag racing and meet some of their heroes
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2018 print issue of the Drive Magazine.
The 22nd annual California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield, California, welcomed an estimated 20,000 spectators and racers. The crowds that filled the Raceway enjoyed wonderful weather, racing royalty, cool cars and amazing nostalgia drag racing. More than 250 racers, including 14 Top Fuel Dragsters, and 30-plus Top Fuel Funny Cars participated. There was a lot to do aside from racing, with vendors, a big swap meet, lots of good food and hundreds of cool street rods in the Famoso Grove.
The Cacklefest in particular was spectacular. More than 60 classic nostalgia Top Fuel Dragsters produced unmatched sights and sounds. The Reunion was like a “living museum,” an explosion of hot rods, nostalgia cars, racing, friends and drag racing legends. The Reunion also served a greater purpose, “Every dollar spent at this event will go to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum,” said Larry Fisher, the new director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.
Several big names in the sport to attended, including “Fast” Jack Beckman, Cruz Pedregon, Densham, Head, Kenny Youngblood, Gene Winfield, Dave McClelland, Ed Iskendarian, Ed Pink, Greg Sharp and Steve Gibbs. It was a special treat for fans, but for the NHRA pros, the Reunion was their time to enjoy nostalgia drag racing and meet some of their heroes, like Tom McEwen, Don Prudhomme, Tommy Ivo, Roland Leong and Art Chrisman.
This year’s grand marshal was Butch Leal and honorees included Tom Allen, Roy Brizio, Jim DeFrank, Larry Dixon Sr. and John Rasmussen. If you missed the 22nd iteration of the Hot Rod Reunion, don’t miss the 23rd!
Perhaps the show’s most dramatic moment. James Valencia of Tehachapi, CA, finished his car the day before. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt.