California Cars and Culture!

One of the coolest annual events held anywhere in all of drag racing went down last weekend.  The 21st NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California wrapped up with much fanfare at the fabled Auto Club Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield…

The 3-day event featured intense nostalgia drag racing with exciting exhibition runs and a spectacular Cacklefest grand finale while fans soaked up the sun and cruised through the vendor’s midway, swap meet and hot rod displays.

“We had wonderful weather and amazing racing all weekend long – we couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum Director Larry Fisher (originally from Canada) who attended his first Hot Rod Reunion since joining the Museum in August. “We want to thank all the fans and participants for coming out to Auto Club Famoso Raceway, and contributing to another incredible Hot Rod Reunion.”

The Bakersfield California Hot Rod Reunion included a monsterous “Cacklefest”

Nine classes including Nostalgia Top Fuel, Nostalgia Funny Car, and Nostalgia Pro Mod made the trip to Famoso to compete in the California Hot Rod Reunion as well as the 2012 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series finals.

Mike Lewis, senior vice president of Don Schumacher Racing, traded in his business suit for a race suit at the Hot Rod Reunion this weekend driving Henry Gutierrez’s Brand-X themed, Paul Smith-tuned Funny Car. Lewis celebrated his first Hot Rod Reunion win in Nostalgia Funny Car on Sunday night following some eventful runs. In the final round, Lewis’ winning performance of 5.785 seconds at 244.38 mph held off Steven Densham, whose 1968 Camaro had engine trouble mid-track. Lewis took out Will Martin, Rian Konno, and Chad Head before defeating Densham in the final.

Nostalgia Nitro FC winner – Mike Lewis

“The California Hot Rod Reunion win means a lot to me. I never knew if I’d race again and when given this opportunity, it was a blessing. I couldn’t be happier,” said Lewis. “The team gave me a tremendous amount of confidence and we had a great car. We had a little bit of work when we met Chad Head in the semis but we stuck together to win it at the Reunion, truly hallowed ground.”

After a spectacular final round in the Nostalgia Top Fuel class, Rick Williamson of Stockton, Calif. claimed his first California Hot Rod Reunion victory after his opponent Adam Sorokin took the lead at the light but blew down the track. Williamson powered his dragster to a performance of 5.809 at 235.23 mph. Williamson beat Dan Horan and New Yorker Tony Bartone before taking out Sorokin in the final.

“It feels real nice to win the California Hot Rod Reunion and to be a part of the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Championship. I’ve been racing since I was 16 years old and to finally win my first title, no matter who I was racing, it feels pretty amazing and I can’t wait to return next year,” said Williamson.

Marc Meadors (Pro Mod), Ronnie Lennon (7.0 Pro), Bud Hammer (Junior Fuel), Les Davenport (A/Fuel), Rob Patten (A/Gas), Don Taros (Nostalgia Eliminator I), Dewayne Sanders (7.0 Pro Group 2) and Doug Hampton (AFX) also were winners in the 21st NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion.

Nostalgia Pro Mod winner – Marc Meadors

In the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series finals, Nostalgia Top Fuel driver Adam Sorokin of Champion Speed Shop won his second championship while Jason Rupert clinched his second consecutive Nostalgia Funny Car Series championship during the California Hot Rod Reunion weekend.

Posted by: Eric Lotz

Photos by: Bruce Biegler & Dave DeAngelis

To view DragRaceCanada’s extensive event photo gallery click:  HERE