We spent last weekend in Bakersfield for the NHRA’s 22nd Annual California Hot Rod Reunion. We always look forward to the Reunion because we get to hang out with old friends, see some great hot rods and racecars, and relive our favorite era in drag racing at the historic Auto Club Famoso Raceway. We wanted to share some images from the weekend, and also to congratulate the folks at the NHRA for putting on another first class event.
There’s always an impressive field of hot rods both on and off the track at the Reunion, and this year was no exception. Everything from traditionally styled rods and customs to recently unearthed or restored Top Fuelers, Gassers, Altereds, and Funny Cars were on display. We had the TRJ roadster parked in front of our booth with Ryan Reed’s ’37 Ford coupe, which was featured in issue #52. It was great talking with those of you who came to see us and check out the cars and TRJ merchandise throughout the weekend, and we appreciate you stopping by.
The action on the track is non-stop during the final rounds of the NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Series, from historic drag cars making exhibition passes to nostalgia Gassers, Top Fuelers, and more. This year Adam Sorokin, son of legendary “Surfers” Top Fuel racer Mike Sorokin, took the championship with a 5.912-second pass at over 216 mph in the Champion Speed Shop dragster. One of the highlights of the weekend is always Saturday evening’s Cacklefest. This year featured over 70 vintage dragsters and racecars, including Ed Pink’s “Old Master,” Tommy Ivo’s “Barnstormer,” and the Burkholder Brothers’ AA/Fuel Altered, to name a few.
While we were there we attended the 2013 Hot Rod Reunion Honorees ceremony, which recognized the contributions made by a group of hot rodding and drag racing luminaries. This year’s honorees were Tommy Allen, Roy Brizio, Jim DeFrank, Larry Dixon Sr, John Rasmussen, and Butch Leal, who was also the Grand Marshall of the event. Many of those names evoke images of the honoree’s performances and accomplishments on the track, but it’s interesting how many of them were first known for the hot street cars they built, drove, and raced early on in their careers.
In addition to the 2013 Honorees, the NHRA also recognized Kelly & Son Crazy Painters for their work painting, striping, and lettering everything from custom cars to dragsters for over six decades. Tom Kelly’s grandfather partnered with Ed Roth in the original Crazy Painters shop, which Tom joined at the age of 15. He’s been striping ever since, and now he is joined by his son Mitch who is carrying on the family tradition.
For our money you can’t beat a weekend at the drags with friends. We want to congratulate all those recognized by the NHRA, and to once again thank those of you who stopped by to see us in Bakersfield. And if you weren’t there this year, mark your calendar for 2014 because we’re sure it will be another fantastic event.