Here are the top 10 reasons to attend the 20th annual NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, Oct. 21-23. Our suggestion -- Do it all and come back for more!
1. Racin', racin' and more racin' like the good ol' days
Three action-packed days of nostalgic drag racing - Nostalgia Top Fuel, Nostalgia Funny Car, A/Fuel, Junior Fuel, 7.0 Pro, A/Gas, Nostalgia Eliminator, A/FX and Exhibition racers will battle it out for the Reunion championships. The event is also the season finale of the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series.
2. Shop 'til you Drop at the Vendor's Midway
The California Hot Rod Reunion is a great place to shop. Find vintage speed equipment, used parts and memorabilia of all kinds in the swap meet at the top end of the track. Shop for new garb in the Vendor's Midway where dozens of well known names like Clay Smith, Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and NHRA set up shop. Make sure you pick up this year's commemorative items including the official Cacklefest shirt and Reunion poster. Get it signed by your favorite racing legends. Look for Reunion Central Tent.
3. ACE Cafe London - The World Comes to Bakersfield
The Ace Cafe London will have you shouting "The British are coming! The British are coming!" because the motorcycle and music icon will erect a party tent at the Reunion, offering live music, beverages, snacks, memorabilia and a hunky-dory time. British motorcycle icon Ace Cafe was originally built in 1938 as a roadside stop, and soon attracted young motorcyclists from all parts of London looking for a place to call their own, meet friends, listen to rock n' roll, and talk bikes. By the 1960s, this combination produced the generation of Rockers and Mods. Ace Cafe became legendary. Mark Wilsmore restored and reopened the Ace in 2001 (http://www.ace-cafe-london.com/), and today thousands of visitors drop by from as far away as Berlin, Cape Town, or Tokyo to enjoy a cup of tea or a meal with other enthusiasts. If you love speed and rock n roll, then you will want to visit the temporary Ace Cafe London at the Reunion.
Famoso becomes the United Nations of drag racing when racers and fans from across the globe flock to Bakersfield, CA. Some of the world contenders on the drag strip include race teams from Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Stroll through the racing pits for the chance to meet and see these world visitors. Look for the world flags represented in the pits!
4. Hit the Road with the 2011 AMSOIL STREET RODDER Road Tour
Back again for another adventure at the Reunion is the popular AMSOIL Street Rodder Road Tour with its exclusive NHRA Hot Rod Reunion Tour. The destination is Famoso Raceway, north of Bakersfield, where the Tour roadies join in the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the famous NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion. The Tour will be parked opposite the top end of the Famoso grandstands. Stop by and hear the Road Tour stories from Tour Leader Jerry Dixey and his Road Tour roadies. It may inspire you to come along on next year's Tour. Check out the Tour schedule at www.streetrodderweb.com.
5. Swap Meet - A PICKER'S DREAM
If you're restoring an old race car, building a hot rod or a self-proclaimed "picker", then the Reunion's Swap Meet is the perfect spot for you. Hunt through rare speed equipment, motors, bodies and frames, and memorabilia of all kinds. You could find a gem and learn a history lesson along the way.
6. Hot Rod Deluxe Memory Lane
As part of the exciting new partnership, HOT ROD Deluxe magazine will host the Memory Lane display area along the Grove at Famoso Raceway. The tree-lined Memory Lane behind the grandstands is filled with dozens of historic race cars and nostalgic hot rods which pays homage to drag racers and hot rodders both past and present. HOT ROD Deluxe promises to bring plenty of eye candy for fans including some amazing vehicles, hot rod legends, giveaways and a few pin-up models.
7. Quarter-Mile Courtyard - VIP Style!
Experience the Reunion from the best seats at Famoso, near the starting line. The QMC features exclusive starting-line grandstand seating, private food and beverage vendors, private restrooms, hospitality tent and shaded seating, VIP parking, and giveaways. Purchase prior or upgrade at the track.
8. Chrisman's reign at Famoso -Justice Brother's Car Care Products Spotlight Award
One of the most iconic names in hot rodding history is Chrisman. The family has participated in all areas of the sport, from Bonneville and drag racing, to hot rods and car shows. Evert, Art, Lloyd, Jack and their sons Mike and Steve will be honored with a display of outstanding cars that will include the first dragster to reach 140 MPH (Art's #25 car), the first to 180 and winner of the first March Meet (Hustler 1), Jack's Model A fuel sedan and Howards' Twin Bear dragster, along with some surprises will make this a tribute you won't want to miss.
9. Stars & Cars
The Reunion brings together a unique group of the motorsports legends, heroes and old-school fans who relive the early days of drag racing. Don't miss the opportunity to meet some of these legends. This year's racing celebs include Tom "Mongoose" McEwen, Gas Ronda, "Jungle" Pam Hardy, "TV Tommy" Ivo, the Chrisman clan and countless others. Keep your eyes and ears open. You may get a chance to shake hands and snap a photo with one of your heroes!
The best time to catch them all under one roof is at Friday night's (Oct. 21) Honoree Reception at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bakersfield, CA. Best of all it's absolutely free to attend. Join us in paying tribute to this year's Grand Marshal Steve Gibbs whose vision created the wildly popular Reunion, and Honorees Harry Hibler, Wayne King, John Peters, Dwight Salisbury, and George Santos.
10. Double Dose of Cacklefest
Reunion fans will be getting not one but two Cacklefest shows, one on Saturday (Oct. 22) evening and a static-start up on Sunday (Oct. 23). Some of this year's notable cacklers are the 1957 Cook & Bedwell dragster, Tom McEwen's Tirend Activity Booster AA/Fuel Dragster, Big John Mazmanian's "Football" AA/Gas Supercharged Austin, the Adams and McEwen Shark Car, and Shirley Muldowney's Rear Engine Top Fuel Dragster. The first Cacklefest in 2000 (at the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, Calif.) featured only nine dragsters, but as the event's popularity rose with subsequent Reunions so did the Cacklefest show. To the uninitiated, "Cacklefest" sounds as if it might be the nickname for a chicken coop. To the initiated, Cacklefest is the sweetest sound in the world. Cacklefest starts with participants push-starting their early-style front-engine dragsters as they did in the 1950s and '60s, then gathering them all together down the center of the drag strip with the engines running, or cackling. It'll be a symphony of sight and sound.
For more information on tickets to the California Hot Rod Reunion, call 800-884-NHRA (6472), log on to www.nhratix.com or http://museum.nhra.com.