The 20th NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway was a prime destination this weekend for those looking to get their nostalgia drag racing fix.
There were over 300 race cars on the historical grounds, and the competition was stout in all eight classes including some exhibition runs that had the fans cheering all weekend long. The California Hot Rod Reunion winners combined with the 2011 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series made this event one for the record books.
Nostalgia Top Fuel driver Brett Harris (Kaysville, UT), clenching his Wally trophy and Reunion trophy, called his win "just another day at the office". This is Harris' second back-to-back Reunion championship this weekend. Harris is also the 2011 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series TF Champion. The final race between Harris and Tony Bartone of Long Island City, NY, was intense. When the lights dropped, it was Harris who reacted first with a .075 reaction to Bartone's .108. Bartone was the fastest this weekend with a top speed of 269.29 mph.
"It can't get any better than this," said Harris. "We'll be ready to come back in March and show them what we got at the light"
In Nostalgia Funny Car, more than 33 cars tested their might on the track this weekend. John Hale of Dallas, TX, who qualified No. 13 in his '69 Camaro made Reunion history in the finals. Hale met Kris Krabill's (Orange, CA) '78 Arrow, who reacted first with a .062 but not enough to outrun Hale's impressive 5.589 at 255.97 mph, the quickest and fastest pass in Reunion history.
"I'm really happy that we came out on top with the quickest and fastest pass in Reunion history. It was my crew chief's last minute engine change that turned this whole weekend around and it was my weekend," said Hale.
In A/Fuel class, Kin Bates of Anderson, CA, topped the field in his with a 6.263 at 222.25 mph. In round two, Bates defeated John Harless of Tulsa, OK in a 6.31 to 6.53 duel. In the finals it was Jeremy Sullivan of Riverside, CA and Kin Bates on the light. Bates ran a 6.261 at 222 mph winning the event against Sullivan's 6.717 at 195.65 mph run. This is Bates second Reunion championship.
"This weekend is a compilation of a whole season of hard work," said Bates. "We managed to make some great runs this weekend with help of all our crew, Lucas Oil and all our sponsors - It's a dream come true."
In Junior Fuel, Bob Lander of Sebastopol, CA, was the No. 1 Qualifier with a 7.04 at 188.07 mph. Fred Notzka of Ventura, CA qualified second with 7.197 at 184.12 mph, and coming in third was Don Enriquez of Mission Viejo who ran a 7.288 at 184.14 mph. In the second round, Bob Lander beat Odie Coker, who fouled, with a 7.084 at 186.87 mph run. In the final round, Bob Lander outran Don Enriquez at 7.115 at 186.69 mph to 7.238 at 185.21 mph, making Lander a three-time California Hot Rod Reunion Champion.
The 7.0 Pro field was topped by Bob Murphy with a 7.005 at 199.91 mph but it was Ronnie Lennon of Sonoma, CA, who grabbed the championship in the end. Lennon took out Paul Peterson of Trabuco Canyon, CA and Cal Tebb of Edmonton, AB to meet Greg Howland of Wenatchee, WA in the finals. In the finals, Lennon's quick reaction of .081 to Howland's .086 sealed the championship.
In A/Gas finals, Dean Hall of Guerneville, CA in his '62 Impala was the winner against Rob Patten of Tracy, CA, with a run of 7.644 at 167.53 mph to 7.625 at 178.53 mph.
In Nostalgia Eliminator, Tim Brown of Big Bear City, CA reached the finals by taking out Kol Johnson of Escondido, CA and Bruce McDowell of Chula Vista, CA. Brown met Dan Schrokosch of San Marcos, CA in the finals. Brown snatched up the championship with a 7.782 at 159.78 mph run to Schrokosch's 8.008 at 157.54 mph run.
The AFX 24-car field was intense. Lynsi Martinez of Glendora, CA was the No. 1 Qualifier with 8.968 at 144.71 mph taking her to the finals. In the finals, Martinez faced Joel Miner of San Diego, CA at the tree. With a .005 second lead over Martinez, Miner took home a third Reunion championship.
Families also enjoyed Reunion festivities around Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Fans of all ages spent the day taking advantage of great weather, good food, shopping, cool cars and incredible racing.
The 21st annual NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion is scheduled for Oct. 19-21, 2012. For the latest information about Wally Park NHRA Motorsports Museum and the Hot Rod Reunions, please visit museum.nhra.com.
The following are the final results from the 20th annual NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California at Auto Club Famoso Raceway:
TOP FUEL ELIMINATOR
Champion: Bret Harris, 5.725, 255.73, .075
R/U: Tony Bartone, 5.693, 269.29, .108
#l Qualifier: Jimi Young, 5.593, 255.92
Low ET: Tony Bartone, 5.566
Top Speed: Tony Bartone
FUNNY CAR ELIMINATOR
Champion: John Hale, 5.589, 255.97, .151
R/U: Kris Krabill, 5.783, 248.75, .062
#l Qualifier: Mike Lewis, 5.698, 246.89
Low E.T.: John Hale, 5.589
Top Speed: John Hale, 255.97
Champion: Kin Bates, 6.261, 222.25, .132
R/U: Jeremy Sullivan, 6.717, 195.65, .065
#l Qualifier: Kin Bates, 6.263, 222.47
Champion: Bob Lander, 7.115, 186.69, .108
R/U: Don Enriquez, 7.238, 185.21, .027
#1 Qualifier: Bob Lander, 7.044, 188.07
Champion: Ronnie Lennon, 7.014, 197.97, .081
R/U: Greg Howland, 6.993, 200.38, .086
#l Qualifier: Bob Murphy, 7.005, 199.91
Champion: Dean Hall, 7.644, 167.53, .012
R/U: Rob Patten, 7.625, 178.33, .061
#l Qualifier: Ken Ratzloff, 7.60, 181.32
NOSTALGIA ELIMINATOR I
Champion: Tim Brown, 7.782, 159.78, .081
R/U: Dan Schrokosch, 8.008, 157.54, .019
# I Qualifier: Gabe Wood, 7.60, 159.76
Champion: Joel Miner, 10.302, 130.40, .066
R/U: Lynsi Martinez, 9.063, 148.17, .060
#1 Qualifier: Lynsi Martinez, 8.968, 144.71