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26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway Bakersfield, CA.

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.

Nostalgia Funny Car Final winner Bobby Cottrell
Nostalgia Funny Car Final winner Bobby Cottrell (far lane) beat Matt Bynum.
Nostalgia Top Fuel runner-up
Nostalgia Top Fuel runner-up, Jim Murphy of Santa Rosa, CA.
Nostalgia Pro Mod Final winner Jeremy Hanger
Nostalgia Pro Mod Final winner Jeremy Hanger (near lane) beat Tony Jurado .

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 ‚ÄúFamoso Grove‚ÄĚ. With so much going on, you can‚Äôt 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

A/Gas winner Terry Newton
A/Gas winner Terry Newton.
A/FX Final winner Bob Moreland.
A/FX Final winner Bob Moreland.
A/FX runner up Brandon Clark.
A/FX runner up Brandon Clark.

Saturday evening featured the famous ‚ÄúCacklefest@‚ÄĚ 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 ‚ÄúLiving Museum‚ÄĚ 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 ‚ÄúLiving Museum‚ÄĚ was an explosion of hot rods, nostalgia cars, racing, friends, and drag racing legends

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION
Nostalgia Eliminator I runner up Pete Krona
Nostalgia Top Fuel winner,  Jim Young from Salem, WI
Nostalgia Top Fuel winner,  Jim Young from Salem, WI.
A/Gas runner up Roy Castagnetto
A/Gas runner up Roy Castagnetto.

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION 26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

…the Reunion was their time to enjoy some nostalgia drag racing and meet some of their heroes

26TH CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

A/Fuel Final. Kin Bates (far lane) beat Drew Austin.
A/Fuel Final. Kin Bates (far lane) beat Drew Austin.

Mike Boyd at the reigns of the legendary Winged Express. He’s about half way down the quarter mile doing a wheelie!
AA/Gas Final Gary Reinero (near lane) beat Mike Molea.
The Jet car closed the show Friday, Saturday & Sunday night.

Now here is ‚Äúa pair to draw too‚ÄĚ. ‚ÄúPure Hell‚ÄĚ just ahead of ‚ÄúThe Wing‚ÄĚ. Rich Guasco‚Äôs ‚ÄúPure Hell‚ÄĚ has been tearing up drag strips since 1963.
Nostalgia Super Stock Final winner Bob Tinger (far lane) beat Donnie Graham.
Top Fuel Funny Car leader Robert Hight (L) with AAA Chairman Tom McKernan.
Ed Iskendarian ‚ÄúThe Cam Father‚ÄĚ.
DSR’s own Mike Lewis.
Drag racing legend Roland Leong.
TV Tommy Ivo signs autographs.
Only believe half the stories about, Tom ‚ÄúThe¬† Mongoose‚ÄĚ McEwen and Don ‚ÄúThe Snake‚ÄĚ Prudhomme.

Grand Marshal Rick Stewart.


Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2018 print issue of the Drive Magazine.