Text and Photos by Tony Thacker
It’s hard to believe but the crew here at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, Pomona, California, is already hard at work preparing for the 19th NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California.
Scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 15-17 at the famed Auto Club Famoso Raceway just north of Bakersfield, California, the Reunion is a three-day festival of nostalgic drag racing, hot rods, “Ameri-car-na” and heroes. From dragster builders to drag strip kings, this year’s group of Reunion honorees played a major role in the early days of drag racing. Heading the bill is Grand Marshal Tom Hanna. Renowned for his metal-shaping skills, Tom is perhaps best known for hand forming the station wagon body on Tommy Ivo’s four-engine “Show Boat” and countless full-bodied dragsters.
Joining Tom as this year’s honorees are Super Stock and Pro Stock pioneer Bill Bagshaw, renowned chassis builder Don Long and Al “Mousie” Marcellus of “Winged Express” fame. Also on the line is all around hot rodder Tom Prufer who began the whole nostalgia drag racing movement in the early ‘80s with the formation of the Nostalgia Drag Racing Association. Finally we have the formidable Arizona duo of Steinegger and Eshenbaugh—together since the ‘50s and still racing.
These guys will be on hand with dozens of other hot rod heroes to relive the glory days of quarter-mile, front-engine drag racing. The Reunion also sees the finals of the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series so you know the track action will be hot ‘n heavy. Besides some amazing drag racing, there’s a huge swap meet full of hard-to-find parts and memorabilia that you can touch and feel, unlike buying over the Internet. There’s a midway with almost 100 vendors selling everything from hairdos to hard parts, and there’s a great car show in Famoso Grove. If you only do one event this year, this is it.
Tickets for the California Hot Rod Reunion go on sale June 17, and early birds receive the benefit of a goody bag complete with souvenir program, dash plaque and a commemorative event credential. Auto Club members receive an admission discount. Children 16 and under are free.
Tickets can be purchased online at http://store.nhra.com/ or by calling 800.884.NHRA (6472); outside the U.S. call 626.250.2497. For information on upcoming museum events and attractions, go to http://museum.nhra.com (http://museum NULL.nhra NULL.com).