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Massive Funny Car Shootout at forthcoming CHRR
Up to 24 funny cars expected to race on Sunday
The annual three-day funfest known as the California Hot Rod Reunion, presented by Automobile Club of Southern California, returns to Auto Club Famoso (just outside Bakersfield) for the 17th time, October 10-12. And what a weekend it’s shaping up to be with the largest nostalgia Funny Car field in recent history promised. Up to 24 fender floppers are expected to turn out for the event on Sunday and compete in a Chicago style shoot out. Top Fuel has an equally impressive field with at least 16 cars entered for a full weekend of racing. The event offers a cornucopia of things to do, here are 10 things to consider:
1. Meet drag racing legends such as "TV Tommy" Ivo: Drag racing icons abound at the Reunion. Ivo, one of the most likeable and competitive drag racers of all time (he was voted No. 25 on the NHRA’s greatest drivers list) will have three of his most famous rides at the Reunion. The line-up includes the four-motor Showboat from 1961 courtesy of America’s Automobile Collection; Ron Johnson’s Barnstormer tribute car and Tommy’s last Top Fuel dragster from 1974. Restored by Bruce Larson, this car gave Tommy the “wild ride” of his life when it went through the traps at Pomona, upside down, backwards and on fire -at 200 mph. Tommy walked away with only one minor scratch.
2. Honouree Reception, Fri, Oct 10, Doubletree Hotel Bakersfield, 7pm: Open to the public, this free event is what the CHRR is all about - honouring the hot rod heroes of the past. This year’s Honourees are Grand Marshal Junior Thompson, Steve Davis, John Edmunds, Georgia Seipel, Walt Rhoades and Butch Maas. The Justice Brothers’ Reunion Spotlight will shine on Gas Ronda.
Recreated Winged Express never fails to impress
3. Nostalgia Drag Racing, Fri-Sun, Oct. 10-12: As the final race of the NHRA’s inaugural Hot Rod Heritage Series, this looks to be the biggest and most competitive California Hot Rod Reunion when it comes to racing. Showcased on the track will be NHRA vintage drag racing, featuring some the sport’s most famous and historic cars and drivers, competing in such classes at Nostalgia Top Fuel, Funny Car, Altereds, Supercharged Gassers, Classic Super Stock, Hot Rods and others, plus and a variety of exhibition entries. More than 200 cars are registered. All the top names in nostalgia racing will be competing, including Adam Sorokin, Denver Schultz, Brett Harris, Jim Murphy, Rick White, Jack “the Sherriff” Harris and Troy Green. Unfortunately, Brad Thompson (Visalia, Calif.), who was leading the series, will not race due to injuries from a crash in Boise, Idaho.
4. Street Rods in the Grove: Some of the coolest cars around, everything from street rods to hot rod to rat rods will be on display in the Grove, ready to check out. Also, the Street Rodder magazine tour is making a stop at the Reunion, bringing dozens more rods to the event.
Massive hot rod show and trade area
5. Manufacturers Midway/Swap Meet: Looking for the latest in hot rod gear or hard-to-find part? Check out the Manufacturers Midway where there will be dozens and dozens of vendors offering everything from hot rod art and videos to ladies racing apparel. The Swap Meet is where the memorabilia, magazines and car parts can be found - bring some spending money!
6. Cacklefest: For Reunion-goers, Cacklefest is the sweetest sight and sound in the world: 40 or more vintage dragsters fire up and “cackle” 400 gallons of nitromethane fuel in less than five minutes. The sound of that exploding nitro will be music to the ears of thousands of fans on Saturday night.
Awesome cacklefest spectacle on Saturday night
7. Historic dragsters on display: Scattered all over Auto Club Famoso will be famous original race cars and recreations of cars from the 1960s -’70s such as the Rat Trap, More Aggravation, Tennessee Bo Weevil, Gang Green, the BankAmerica and the Mastercar, to name but a few.
8. The Dynamic Legends Honouree and VIP site: Sponsored by Dynamat, the special new area (located in the Grove under the Auto Club sign and next to the Justice Brothers Car Care Products display), is where fans will be able to find many of the past and present Honourees. Swing by, say hello and maybe get a souvenir signed.
9. Mingle with international racers and fans: When Reunion officials say it "brings the world to Bakersfield," they are not fooling. Racers, fans and media from Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada will descend upon Auto Club Famoso Raceway, bringing millions of tourism dollars and good cheer. It’s also the season finale of the inaugural NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage nostalgia drag racing series.
10. Military Appreciation Day: all active US service people get in the Reunion for free on Sun., Oct. 12.
Daily general admission ticket/pit passes will be available at Auto Club Famoso Raceway gate, www.famosoraceway.com. Cost per person: Friday, $20; Saturday, $20; Sunday, $15. Children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Auto Club discount is also available at the gate: $2 off Friday and Saturday and, $1 off Sunday. Active military personnel get in free on Sunday.
Further information, including a full activities schedule, is available through the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at http://museum.nhra.com
Story Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
Photos: Marc Gewertz
At least a 16 car Top Fuel field