Race Reports

Bakersfield U.S.A 20th Annual Hot Rod Reunion

We set out from Rockvegas and met up with Greg Leahy and Mick Atholwood in the Qantas Lounge. We indulged in a few sherbets in preparation for the long flight to Los Angeles. Jeff Carr, Nathan's partner Raquel's stepfather, who is a bricklayer extraordinaire, Tow -car driver extraordinaire and all round good guy, had decided at late notice at the Sun - states at Palmyra, that he wouldn't mind going to America with me. 

I had accepted a kind invitation to join Peter and Greg Leahy and their mass of friends when they collected Roly's car out of the NHRA Museum at Pomona to transport to Bakersfield and run it in the 7.00 sec Pro Eliminator Class. Jeff ended up joining us by booking his ticket from the track at Mackay on his iPad. Somehow I think we have now created a monster. Now he's up early in the morning on the NHRA website and has gone from non-committal to a dedicated John Force fanatic. I have attached a selection of photos and will briefly explain them. Firstly, what a nice photo of Roly's car in the museum. It is indeed a credit to the boys and the museum staff who really love the car. We had no trouble getting it in and out because the staff were very helpful. Here's proof that the Yanks are crazy. Cactus Leaves for sale in the supermarket. We did refrain from trying them. At Bakersfield there is no shortage of golf buggies for hire. Just remember to either bring your cheque book or take out a small loan before hiring. The Motor Home we hired for 10 days was only about $1000 compared with a Golf Buggy for 4 days at $430. Unfortunately they are a necessary evil. There were hundreds of them. On a lighter note, one of our intrepid band of racing fanatics, did borrow the sheriffs golf buggy to get to our party on Saturday night and the sheriff was not happy that his golf buggy was in the middle of 100 people plus enjoying a 'pig on a spit' thanks to the wonderful hospitality of Greg and Peter Leahy and former Aussie Dennis Young. You really have to be there to believe it.

Nostalgia racing in America, the comradeship is phenomenal. I mean where else can you go at 10pm and Kenny Youngblood is in the seat of the 'Chisler' – a legendary American race car - and proceeds to cackle it for about 10 minutes until people have had enough nitro and then they tow it back to their pit where the Worshams have the margarita mixer. This you have to see. It's on a box trailer, it has a nitro motor, dual 44 mags, and a dog clutch set-up, belts and pulleys and there's about 3 x 20 litre margarita mixing machines. Blokes stand at the back and blip it with nitro, flames coming out while they mix up the 60 litres of Margarita mix. For some ungodly reason on Saturday night at about midnight, they wheel it down the road into a nice little area and fire it up again until it threw a blower belt. Jeff's and I followed in swift pursuit in the golf buggy. Anyway back to the photos.

Jeff's in the John Force cut-away car at the museum. Great shot of the pit crew in the top fuel dragster – I call him ZZ Top. Have a look at this horrible, ugly catfish that's for sale in the supermarket. Here we have Greg and Mick sitting back and relaxing on the chair in the NHRA Museum. Jeff's posing with our 30 foot mobile home outside John Force where he was in heaven. Pity we couldn't get in and do a tour like when I was last there. Good photo of me and the legendary Steve Gibbs, Grand Marshall for the event. Top guy and has always put a lot into the sport. Later, while sitting in the grandstands at Bakersfield, I could her all these pommies with their sandals. Turns out this mad character in the photo is a sound and lighting guy in the movies. He worked on Johnny Depp's 'Pirates of the Caribbean'. Reckons he told Johnny Depp to piss off he's busy. They all run blowing cars in England. The only problem he says and I quote 'It's either wet or raining when the drags are on in England'. They were a great bunch and they were having a ball. It is amazing how the Americans do so load rated chairs as you can see. 'Fatest Maximus' - Paul "Nitro" Shackleton sitting down enjoying a joke with legendary chassis builder Bob "the slow man" Myer. We spent a fair bit of time with Bob and he was very helpful in the purchase of the Time Traveller. He approached Dave Uyehara and Jack Beckman who drove the car.
As always it is good to see and catch up with Gary Densham , his wife and son Steven and this photo is nice shoot of Peter Leahy and Gary engrossed in conversation. The Do n Prudome travelling race car and transporter beautifully restored with air. I was lucky enough to be given a cap with some hair on it to replace my balding head and some nice wild nostalgia flame shirts and the photo with the guy in the black shirt and cowboy hat is Lee Jennings Snr. Lee was half shares in the Jennings and Shule nitro nostalgia race car that we purchased as a roller formerly driven by Mendy Fry. His son, Lee Paul Jnr drives Code Red an absolutely beautiful nitro funny car. Next we come to Mick Atholwood and one of his mad mates who tells the best stories. I think because the Nostalgia's had so many older people, the stories are better and they go back twenty or thirty years. 
The Leahy's are very well thought about at Formoso. In fact we all got together late one night and had a beer beside Roly's plaque which is on a tree beside the staging lanes and next to it is Wally and Barbara Parks' plaque. Photo shows the TV crew with the pretty good looking reporter doing the weather from the drag strip whilst Mick Atholwood fired up the race car for her. Then we come to the crew that ran in the first round and unfortunately one of the parachutes came out and he got all tangled up in it. He had the fake hair as well and they ended up being a great bunch. Mike has being doing this for a lot of years and has won a lot of events and on a daily basis we would sit down exchange stories. The War Eagle – probably one of the nicest painted nostalgia nitro cars and with the reporter in it improved it out of sight. Well, with more front than the Waltons, we just would drive the golf buggy up the side of the staging lanes, grab an ice-cream and put our feet up and we'd have a seat all day. Jeff likes his wallys. This one is a picture with the nostalgia winning John Hale from Texas. Nice photo of Doug Rose and his wife on the outside in the white shirts with Chris and Kelly Edwards in the middle. Chris and Kelly run a dragster and Doug is the crew chief. Doug built the Time Traveller but had a heart attack in it during licensing and regretfully it was put up for sale.

I just happened to walk into Chris and Kelly's pits and was having a yarn to them telling then how I was over from Australia looking for a nitro nostalgia funny car and he said go and see that guy in the motor home because you won't find better and that's how it all started. Next up is a great photo of John Hale with the huge trophy in the winners circle. John is a good mate of John Simikic from High Performance World in Dallas, Texas. Then we move on to me and Cal. Cal is a Canadian. They run in the same 7.00 Sec Pro Eliminator class over there is a lot of alcohol funny cars with power glides mainly in the same class that Greg and Peter Leahy run Roly's car in 7.00 sec Pro Eliminator. There is about half a dozen funny cars from Canada. Cal cleaned Greg up in the second round. It was a good run but there were really nice Canadians everywhere. Next we come to Bob Myer, Shacks and I. God I make those two old fellows look handsome. Now I can't remember the announcers name but we had a ball. Again the last three photos are of Jeff at the presentations for Top Fuel with second time winner Brett Harris and last one there with John Hale and me with my beautiful red hair. The end result make sure in your lifetime you attend a Hot Rod Reunion event at the legendary Formose raceway at Bakersfield, who nows with a bit of luck you could come home with a Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car


Gallery Bakersfield U.S.A 20th Annual Hot Rod Reunion