The California Hot Rod Reunion, held at Bakersfield’s Famoso Raceway, is an annual pilgrimage for old school racers and fans who seek to relive the glory days of the sport in the USA.
Drag News editor Luke Nieuwhof was there to capture the feel of one of drag racing’s most unique events.
Famoso Raceway still has an old school drag strip feel. Wooden grandstands, no corporate areas, it helps keep the nostalgia feel in tact. CHRR is a nostalgia drag racing event, so old school rules here.
The swap meet is filled with all kinds of metal. If there is a part you need for any kind of vintage engine of the American hot rod and street machine genre you can probably find it here.
It’s not just car stuff either, plenty of old gear from yesteryear like Rock Em Sock Em Robots!
There is a section of Famoso Raceway called ‘The Grove’, where hot rods and street machines gather. Something for just about all tastes.
A bit of glamour here and there. Lots of girls get around in the ‘rockabilly’ style.
This is a 1/20th of a second pan, it is ridiculously difficult to get anything event close to a clear shot, especially with a vehicle travelling at 300kph!
A small fire breaks out underneath ‘War Horse’ as it crosses the finish line. The driver’s hand is reaching up to release the parachutes. In the old days this car would probably have burnt to the ground, but with today’s safety requirements the fire was gone as quickly as it came.
A supercharger backfire can launch the fibreglass or carbon fibre bodies off a Funny Car. Given these cars are travelling at about 400kph as soon as air gets underneath the body it can take off. This is rare to see but there were two such incidents at this event. In this photo you can see the read out boards in the foreground, that body just about went into orbit.
Here’s the other one. Remarkably Mike Lewis and team managed to fix this body and return to racing the next day.
Top Fuel driver Dave Hirata gets sprayed with oil as the motor lets go.
A lot of the nitro cars will burn up pistons as they near the finish line due to the motor leaning out. It results in telltale white puffs of smoke from the exhaust pipes.
A chance photo of the burst panel just beginning to blow.
The famed Winged Express was among six fuel altereds running an exhibition. This car is the fan favourite, bouncing the front wheels the whole way down the track and at night producing spectacular header flames.