Famoso Fury – Intense Action Highlights 2018 NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion
The NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion Is that one weekend in October which every drag racing fan craves. Famoso Raceway on the outskirts of Bakersfield is Mecca for vintage drag racers. What Monaco is to F1, Daytona to NASCAR, The Brickyard to IndyCar, and Woodstock to rock music, this patch of hallowed ground is on par with all of those iconic venues.
The NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion that one drag race which has it all. It’s where stars of the golden era come out to show their restored or recreated cars and cackle them during the original NHRA Cacklefest® on Saturday night in front of the delighted fans who visit from all over the world. It’s where everyone comes to have a chat with old time rivals and new friends. You never know which legend you might meet in the pits around the corner of the next racing trailer.
What makes the whole event complete is the car show you get to see in “The Grove“ right between the grandstands and the pits. The planted grove of trees alongside the quarter-mile track hosts dozens of crazy modified customs, lined up next to beautiful restored classic Muscle Cars, Hot Rods and rusty Rat Rods during the event. And not to forget, the huge swap meet beyond “The Grove“ where you can find some old treasures in form of drag racing memorabilia or parts to build your own vintage drag car.
After the conclusion of Funny Car qualifying, Steven Densham, driving for his father Gary, was sitting on top of the qualifying ladder with a stout 5.679 at 252.90 mph. Unfortunately he couldn’t translate his strong performance during race day, red lighting in round one and gave away the win to tire smoking Geoff Monise.
The Heritage Series Funny Car championship crown went to Bobby Cottrell since he had won three events throughout the season. He was able to do so just by qualifying for the 16 car field – good enough to clinch the Championship. Cottrell fell to event winner Jason Rupert in the semifinals. Second generation driver Rupert ran the quickest time of the whole event with a 5.634 sec. pass at 259.51mph in his 1969 Camaro bodied Funny Car. With crew chief Brad Little turning the wrenches, Rupert defeated Rian Konno in the final, who ran a 5.855 ET at 241.84 mph.
The FuelCurve Funny Car wheeled by Marc Meadors and tuned by veteran tuner Jim Basko as the new Crew Chief on board, made some solid runs, but missed the field by only 0.004 of a second. They also suffered from a broken crankshaft during qualifying and had to change engines. The team then switched into test mode instead and made an exhibition run on Sunday to sort all the gremlins out.
Mendy Fry, already coming in the event as the newly crowned 2018 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Champion, gave herself and the High-Speed Motorsports Top Fuel team yet two additional reasons to celebrate. She not only bested the 12 other participants with a 5.592 ET at 239.14 mph pole position run, she also took home the event win by beating Rick McGee’s 5.749 at 256.50 mph with her 5.610 at 259.36 mph in the final. The solid weekend put an exclamation mark on her outstanding season. This Nitro Kitty can drive!
A/Fuel pilot Drew Austin, another second generation driver, joined Mendy in the winners circle. He put himself on the number one spot with a 5.850 ET at 232.83 mph, went through the field on Sunday and beat Wayne Ramay in the final round with a 5.862 at 233.88 mph to Ramay’s 6.053 at 225.63 mph. With winning the event and the championship, he couldn’t have asked for a more perfect ending to his A/Fuel Dragster career. Next year, Austin will be back, but this time behind the wheel of a nitro burning nostalgia Funny Car.
One of the many highlights of this event are certainly the AA/Fuel Altereds. David Giles driving the beautiful “The Tramp“ ’32 Bantam, took over the top spot of the 10 entries by running a 6.644 sec ET. Unfortunately, he fell to Brian Hope in the first round when Brian posted a 6.234 ET at 213.57 mph in Rich Guasco’s “Pure Hell.” Hope went on to beat Rodney Flournoy in the final round 6.456, 203.55 to Flournoy’s 8.863, 96.87 mph.
Other winners in their individual categories included John Marottek in Junior Fuel, Steve Faller in 7.0 Pro, Bernie Plourd in Nostalgia Eliminator, Robert Johnson in Nostalgia Eliminator 2, Lindsey Lister in Nostalgia Eliminator 3, Brian Rogers in A / Gas, Val Miller in B / Gas, Bill Becker in C / Gas, Bill Norton in D / Gas, Scott White in AA / Gas, Roger Holder in Pro Mod, Jack Goodrich in A / FX, and Alex George in Hot Rod.
The NHRA Museum continues to produce one of the most exciting weekends of drag racing this side of the Mississippi. It’s no wonder gearheads and nitro junkies worldwide keep returning home to “Smokersfield.”