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2007 California Hot Rod Reunion
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It all looked familiar, there was Bob Glassup and the Xtreme Racing team's BBFA Topolino and not far beyond their pit space was the Honky Tonkin' Gasser of Lee Pike and Jerry Denning. Then of course there was the rain – just like being in England but this was Bakersfield, California and we had to wait until Sunday for the Californian sunshine to show. Both the British teams praised the help that they received from the Hot Rod Reunion organisers, the American teams and the legions of race fans that applauded each time they showed up on track. Each team running in the Exhibition class managed to run several laps despite the rain delays and on their last pass each got mighty close to the wall en route to the finish line, with Glassup clocking an on/off 7.63/178 and Jerry Denning a 9.17/140. Bob Glassup was lined up to run alongside Mike Boyd in the famed Winged Express but both had to run solos as Ron Hope in the Rat Trap AA/FA oiled his lane spoiling the pairing.
On the Friday evening after the rain shower stopped play the thing to do was attend the Hot Rod Reunion Honoree reception, souvenir show and fire up of some nostalgia machines at the Double Tree Hotel in town. The Saturday evening after qualifying had finished was the famed Cacklefest where some sixty plus cars of various origins were push-started then lined up on the track with nitro flames licking the air above many of them for quite some time.
There were a massive twenty-one front engined Top Fuel cars vying for a place in the sixteen car elimination and it was led by Visalia CA resident Brad Thompson with a fine 5.741/255 clocking leaving all others to chase with only Jim Murphy close with a 5.774/257. On the bump spot sat Rick Rogers with a 6.104/250. The qualifying attempts were cut short on Friday as a small shower cut dead all activity then rain and heavy drizzle on the Saturday did not allow any track time until lunchtime.
Round one opened with a defeat of Troy Green's holeshot 5.957/246 being overtaken by Shannon Stuart's smoking in the lights 5.894/228, then Rick Rogers was beaten by Brad Thompson 5.902/212 to the slowing 6.11/238. Jim Murphy managed to overcome the better leave by Mike McLennan and ran him down with a 5.878/240 to the losing 6.163/212. Howard Haight lifted the front wheels a foot off the track on his launch but was trounced in the lights with a 5.761/231 from Adam Sorokin to the losing 6.181/196. Brett Harris's 6.025/237 went down to the better 5.88/249 from Jason Richey whilst Pete Kaiser hung on to his slight holeshot winning with a 5.928/248 to the close 5.967/240 from Scott Mason. Another holeshot win was awarded to Denver Schutz, his 5.884/251 easily saw off the early chutes deploying 6.137/171 from Jack Harris. Despite deep staging Rick Williamson's 5.941/249 was soundly beaten by the great leave by Rick White as his slower 6.016/243 won.
It was a real close drag race that opened round two when Jim Murphy chased and ran down the better leave by Denver Schutz, 5.789/253 beat the 5.846/247. Adam Sorokin hit instant smoke in his bout with Pete Kaiser whose 6.040/219 had the ticket against the 6.540/224 recovered but losing time. Despite oiling the track Jason Richey managed to run the winning 5.941/214 as opponent Shannon Stuart failed to catch up with his 6.225/195. The last pairing witnessed Rick White out of the hole first quickly followed by Brad Thompson but in the lights it went in favour of Thompson's 5.768/229 to the losing 5.968/247.
The last round's oil down by Richey took its toll as he failed to show for his duel with Brad Thompson who soloed to another bracket like 5.706/231 to enter the final. The other pairing had Pete Kaiser go into instant smoke slowing him to a 12.086/63 as Jim Murphy took the win with a 5.815/242.
The final was held as the light started to dim and it featured Pete Kaiser in the Stirling Race Cars machine against the TUF Shine/GL Bless Trucking dragster of Brad Thompson who was first out on the lights and thundered to a 5.721/261 win as Kaiser was left in the dust with a 5.924/228.
There were sixteen fuel coupes fighting for a place in the Funny Car eliminations that were run as a Chicago-style shootout and leading the one shot Sunday qualifier was Bucky Austin in a Plymouth Arrow on a 5.952/237, he was the only car in the fives during qualifying.
The first stanza pitted Dennis La Charitte whose 6.147/237 beat the off at half track and small fire from the '70 Barracuda of Mike Savage. Sean Dale failed to capitalise on his better leave and slowed to a losing 7.567/134 as Jeff Utterbeck drove to a 6.124/228 win. The third pairing was Capps against Capp, that is Ron Capps driver of the Brut car in the NHRA POWERade series and Terry Capp; Capps though was at the helm of the 'Future Flash' '72 Charger this time and despite a better leave only managed a losing 6.272/228 as Capp in the 'Bubble Up' Firebird took the win with a 6.114/238. The last pairing drew Bucky Austin against Bob Godfrey and it was Austin who had been running like a train all weekend clinched the win with a 5.957/220 to the losing 6.338/193.
The final was the run off between the two quickest in the previous round and that allowed Terry Capp to face Bucky Austin. It was almost a foregone conclusion as the Bucky's Mufflers Brakes Radiators 'Northwest Hitter' '77 Plymouth Arrow of Austin took another convincing 5.915/242 as Terry Capp in the 'Bubble Up Pacemaker' Firebird was hauled in and beaten, his 6.106/237 nipped in the lights.
The A/Fuel category had fifteen runners and was led throughout by Kin Bates with a 6.284/225. The final though did not feature Bates but had Darrell Waters against Claude Laude and it was the holeshot by Waters coupled with the 6.404/216 that beat Laude's 6.453/222 at the stripe.
The popular array of AA/Gas cars had a total of fourteen machines contesting the rounds and on pole was Sean Renteria in his '65 Valiant with a 6.633/212 time slip. Renteria made it past Mike Leanard's '69 Chevelle in round one then Rich Roberts '34 Willys in two and faced Chris Abbey in the final. Abbey meanwhile had got by a broken Howard Anderson's '38 Chevy then despatched Mike Molea in his '33 Willys in round two. So the money end of the day saw Sean Renteria out of the hole first suffering a bout of shake and followed by Chris Abbey's '63 Corvette but at the stripe it was the Valiant of Renteria that posted the win with a 6.789/206 to the defeated 6.806/206 from Abbey.
There were a massive thirty-one cars in the A/Gas class led by Dean Lindsey's '67 Nova with a 7.604/179. Lindsey went out in round one to Ray Martin who managed to get to the final by defeating Mike Doushgourian in two to face Tommy Schiffilea. The '40 Willys of Schiffilea spoilt the chances of John Cauchi's '68 Camaro in the opening round then Jay Diedrich's '68 Camaro in two. Tommy Schiffilea's Willys was out in front on the final and held onto the win with an 8.025/144 to the chasing 8.491/163 from the '63 Corvette of Ray Martin.
The Junior Fuel ranks had eight dragsters and in front was the Scott Parks entry with a 6.933/193 just ahead of JD Zink's 6.946/190 and it was these two cars that met for the run-off. Parks managed a good light and left a rather somnolent Zink trying in vain to catch up but failing as his slowing 7.325/166 attested allowing Scott Park's 6.881/193 to secure the win.
The Junior Fuel B class was led by John Rasmussen's dragster with a 7.128/186. Rasmussen dominated the weekend when he ran the winning 7.177/187 in the final to defeat the 7.199/185 from Fred Notzka.
In the Nostalgia Eliminator there were a total of fifty-eight cars and heading the pile was Gil Valencia in a '48 Fiat with a 7.603/180. The final though came down to a battle between Ronnie Lennon in the now '32 Bantam bodied car and the '23 T of John Leso. Lennon took a great light and roared to the win with a 7.710/158 as Leso chased in vain taking the runner up with an 8.125/128.
The AFX class had a total of twenty-eight competitors with pole position being held by the '65 Olds of John Contreras on a 9.494/142 ticket. In the final though it was the '64 Plymouth Belvedere of Joel Miner that took podium place with a 10.290/119 defeat of Jeff Dudgeon's '68 Dodge Coronet who runner upped with a 10.823/125.
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