The Ul­ti­mate Mix of Nos­tal­gia and Nitro

Drag Racer - - CONTENTS - Text by Pete Ward Pho­tos Cour­tesy of NHRA Motorsports Mu­seum, Doug Adams and Jim White

TWENTY-SIX YEARS AGO, THE FIRST CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION TOOK PLACE. It’s doubt­ful those who planned the inaugural event had any idea what they’d cre­ated. It has tapped into the deep de­sire of hot-rodders in gen­eral and drag racers in par­tic­u­lar to re­con­nect with the golden age of automotive per­for­mance.

To those who haven’t had the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the Reunion, here’s a primer of what to ex­pect and why you’d want to at­tend.


The Hot Rod Reunion, pro­duced by and ben­e­fit­ting the NHRA Motorsports Mu­seum, is three full days of quar­ter-mile nitro nos­tal­gia drag racing; a gi­ant gath­er­ing of cus­toms, hot rods, and mus­cle and vin­tage race cars; a huge automotive and vin­tage swap meet; and a quar­ter­mile of man­u­fac­tur­ers and ven­dors of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from steer­ing wheels to sou­venirs. The Reunion is fa­mous for pro­vid­ing the op­por­tu­nity for fans to spend time with their he­roes and leg­ends of the sport. Ad­di­tion­ally, some of the greats from hot rod­ding and drag racing his­tory are hon­ored. And if that wasn’t enough, the sea­son’s Hot Rod Her­itage Se­ries Cham­pi­ons and the Reunion Race Win­ners are crowned.


The famed Cacklefest® will re­turn to the 2015 Reunion for­mat with thrilling push-starts on the re­turn road and the crowd-pleas­ing sights and sounds of nitro-burn­ing en­gines thun­der­ing in the night. For hun­dreds of fans, the Cacklefest® alone is worth the price of ad­mis­sion. The sight and sound of dozens of fuel racers roar­ing in ca­dence is an ex­pe­ri­ence you won’t soon for­get. Like the first Reunion, the first Cacklefest® in 2002 was cre­ated by the mu­seum and has grown to be a muchan­tic­i­pated part of each Reunion to­day.

Racing classes in­clude: Nos­tal­gia Top Fuel, Nos­tal­gia Funny Car, A/Fuel, Ju­nior Fuel,

7.0 Pro, A/Gas, NE1, A/FX and Ex­hi­bi­tion, as well as AA/Fuel Al­tereds and professional ex­hi­bi­tion. Nitro junkies, you’ll wit­ness more side-by-side fuel ac­tion at the CHRR than two Big Show races com­bined.


Plans for the 2017 Reunion also in­clude the re­turn of the Honoree Re­cep­tion to the Dou­bleTree Ho­tel Ball­room in Bakersfield with Grand Marshal Rick Ste­wart and 2017 Reunion Honorees: Pete East­wood, Bill Hol­land, Bob Lam­beck, Bob Panella Sr. and Jimmy Scott, who will be rec­og­nized for their many achieve­ments in the motorsports field. Also, as in the past, nitro cars will fire off in front of the ho­tel.


Park your pre-1972 hot rod in the famed Famoso Grove and/or a des­ig­nated area close to the track ac­tion and spec­ta­tor seat­ing. The tree-lined Grove park­ing is lim­ited and on a first-come, first-served ba­sis, so get there early. Park­ing is just $25 per car for the en­tire event in ad­di­tion to your daily ad­mis­sion. Plenty of free park­ing is avail­able out­side the Grove also. Hot rod park­ing starts at 7 a.m. each day. Mu­seum mem­bers park for free.

The lineup of par­tic­i­pants is build­ing each day and prov­ing to be an­other great event.

 ABOVE. The Cacklefest® is one of the CHRR’s crown­ing mo­ments. Here The Snake lights off his fa­mous Shelby Ford Cam­mer T/F.

 BE­LOW. The ac­tion on the fabled Famoso strip is non-stop dur­ing the Reunion.

 ABOVE & BE­LOW. You crave nitro ac­tion? There’ll be dozens of Nos­tal­gia T/F drag­sters and Flop­pers in competition.

 RIGHT. It’s not just about racing, there will be hun­dreds of hot rods, cus­toms and mus­cle cars on dis­play.

 ABOVE. The California Hot Rod Reunion al­lows you to time travel back to the good old days.

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