This past Friday and Saturday I attended the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, Ca. This was the 22nd year for the reunion which attracts nostalgia drag racing enthusiasts from all over the world to Famoso Raceway just north of town. I had never been to the Reunion before, but was proud to be around this year to represent California Car Cover and the DeFrank family. My father, Jim, was selected as one of the Lifetime Achievement Award winners this year.
Qualifying took place on Friday and Saturday, but the festivities kicked off on Friday night at the Double Tree Hotel. The hotel was the place for the annual awards reception and cackle fest. There were plenty of classic cars and spectators on hand for all of the action.
The awards reception honored a number of drag racing and automotive legends. This year's honorees included nostalgia racers Larry Dixon Sr, John Rasumussen, Tommy Allen, hot rod builder Roy Brizio and my father, Jimy DeFrank. A special award was also presented to famous painter Tom Kelly for his works in the drag racing world. The grand marshal for the weekend was Butch Leal.
|The banquet room at the hotel
|Here is a photo of my father catching up with long time hot rod builder Gene Winfield.
Each honoree was given the opportunity to give a speech and answer some questions from Dave McClelland. My father had been a little nervous for the past few weeks about giving a speech. Well, his nerves went away pretty fast. He grabbed the mike from Dave as shown and didn't give it back for probably fifteen minutes. He had the place laughing nonstop about his life growing up and his love of classic cars. His candid speech had all of us laughing and crying the entire time. We are proud of his accomplishments and the award.
|The 2013 NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion Honorees
|The DeFrank Family
|Here is a photo of the DeFrank boys and the Brizio boys. My father, Jim, and Roy Brizio on the right, were honored on Friday night.
Saturday morning we were out at Famoso Raceway bright and early. I started the day with a walk through the swap meet. I didn't see anything that I had to have, but spotted some interesting stuff for the car nut.
The Hot Rod Reunion is really about preserving nostalgia drag racing. Cars must be thirty years old to run and compete within a limited set of rules. The cars are all a throwback to the golden age of drag racing with wild designs and cool nicknames on the cars. While there is plenty of actions on the track, behind the grandstands there were plenty of other classic cars to check out.
|The vendor midway had plenty of car accessories and apparel for attendees to check out.
The staging lanes was the place for nonstop action all day. There were always plenty of race cars in the lanes since a few hundred cars were on the property to race during the weekend.
Everyone at the NHRA Museum really made the honorees feel like celebrities. My father had the chance to talk to many drag racing fans during Saturday's autograph session.
|Trophies for the lucky winners
|The Hot Rod Reunion Merchandise Tent
Instead of watching racing, I tried to walk around and look at all of the cool cars in the pit area. It was really like a car show at a drag race track. Even a lot of the race cars were car show quality vehicles. There was plenty of candy paint and polished metal on display.
Jerry Dixey from Street Rod magazine led a large group of classic car owners from Sacramento down to Bakersfield for the event. Here are a few cars that were in the Street Rodder parking lot for the weekend.
Saturday afternoon brought a large group of racing fans to Famoso. The stands were packed much of the day. Fans were treated to great racing from A/FX cars, nostalgia dragsters, nostalgia funny cars and pro mod race cars.
There was also a silent auction on Saturday to benefit the NHRA Museum. There was plenty of cool racing nostalgia up for auction. I unfortunately was outbid for the large banner from the award's reception. The banner was signed by all of this year's honorees.
Before the cackle fest, my father was a participate in a parade down the quarter mile. He rode down the return road in a 1932 Ford Hi-Boy along with all of his fellow honorees. It was a pretty cool sight.
After the parade, the preparation began for the cackle fest. There were a lot of people and cars in the staging lanes as everyone got ready for Saturday night's event.
My family and I had a great time on Friday and Saturday at the California Hot Rod Reunion. Thank you to everyone at NHRA, the NHRA Museum and our friends at the LA Roadsters for all of the hospitality throughout the weekend.
Check back later this week for more event coverage from Sunday's Pomona Swap Meet, plus upcoming action from the Pasadena Art Center Car Show. For the latest news from California Car Cover, please visit our website.