Legendary names in the sport
of drag racing took center stage during the 26th annual California
Hot Rod Reunion® presented by Automobile Club of Southern
The 2017 legends including Bakersfield
native Grand Marshal Rick Stewart who was feted for his decades
long involvement with NHRA at the star studded Hot Rod Reunion
Honoree Reception at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bakersfield., admission
to the reception is free. Also recognized during the event were
Pete Eastwood, Bill Holland, Bob Lambeck, Bob Panella, Sr., and
Without further ado, lets join
Coming out of the hotbed of Southern
California hot rodding known as Blairs Speed Shop, Pete
Eastwood could be called the consummate hot rodder. But thats
only part of the story. His father, Doug, and Uncle Warwick were
involved in the Horseless Carriage Club of America since the
early 1950s, so Eastwood can give you chapter and verse with
his knowledge of brass-era cars and motorcycles. When the 75
Most Significant 32 Ford Hot Rods were selected in 2007,
analysis showed that P-Wood had worked on nearly
a third of them. Eastwoods eclectic automotive taste is
demonstrated by the brass radiator, Hilborn injector, and Triumph
drag bike decorating the living room of his Pasadena home.
Bill Holland has devoted himself to helping promote
the sport in a variety of ways as journalist, race car owner
and driver, publicist, artist, and businessman and his extensive
involvement within the automotive aftermarket industry. After
having a motorsports column featured in local Los Angeles newspapers,
Holland worked as the editor of National Dragster from 1969 to
1974, where he helped expand the publications features, tech
articles, and overall editorial scope. After Holland opened his
advertising/public relations business, he became one of the first
to utilize the emerging desktop publishing technology for the
creation of advertisements, brochures, and catalogs.
During his very successful career
that has spanned six decades, West Coast campaigner Bob Lambeck
has been what is known as a racers racer in
that he not only drove his cars to victory but also built the
engines and set up the chassis and every other aspect of the
overall operations. Lambecks overall excellence is best
highlighted by the fact that he has raced approximately 40 cars
of many different brands and models over the years, and each
one has produced a class win, divisional victory, or a national
Bob Panella Sr. has three major claims to fame: a robust
family-operated trucking business, a tremendous career track
record in drag racing for himself and his son Bob Jr., and a
warehouse that contains one of the most amazing collections of
Willys coupes, sedans, and trucks within the world of hot rodding.
Panella began his drag racing career by racing at Kingdon Drag
Strip in Lodi, Calif., in 1957. He began fielding a series of
Willys trucks and coupes before putting Joe Morris, who won B/GS
class honors at the 1966 Winternationals, behind the wheel. Bob
Jr. continued the family racing tradition by successfully competing
in the Sportsman ranks during the 1990s and dominating the Pro
Stock Truck category with 13 national event wins and three world
championship titles in four seasons.
In the late 1950s, Jimmy Scott
appeared before Judge Darrell Morgan on a street racing charge.
The sympathetic judge sentenced Scott to race at San Fernando
Drag Strip instead of on the street and changed his life forever.
Scott worked at the track for 12 years in positions ranging from
time slips to starter and announcer. Meanwhile, he advanced from
street racing to his first real race car, an altered
roadster. In his lengthy career Scott drove a total of thirty-six
different race cars. Team Scott continues to the present with
their Alcohol Funny Car driven by Jim Scott Jr.
Grand Marshall Rick Stewart is recognizable as NHRAs long-time
chief starter, but veterans of the sport know him as Rick the
Iceman Stewart, the talented dragster driver. Growing up
in Bakersfield, Stewart began his racing career on
the street in his flathead-powered 46 Ford Tudor sedan.
He wisely changed course to Famoso Raceway when he started racing
In 1963, Stewart teamed with
past honorees Gene Adams and John Rasmussen to race a Woody Gilmore-built
Top Fuel car. Running at all the Southern California strips,
they won $5,500 in 1964 dollars. Stewart was the subject of Seven
Second Love Affair, a great documentary which covered Stewarts
activity from his day job as an X-ray technician through a crash
at Lions Drag Strip. In 1965, Adams switched to Top Gas, and
the team continued its success, including a win at the Hot Rod
Magazine Championships in Riverside, Calif.
In 1967, a bad crash during tire
testing at Famoso eventually led to Stewarts retirement
from the cockpit in 1971. In the 1980s, Stewart began working
part time as a backup starter while also serving as director
of radiology at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. After some 10
years in the backup starter position, Stewart was hand-picked
by NHRAs first Chief Starter, Buster Couch, as his replacement.
Over the next 15 years, Stewart occupied the proverbial best
seat in the house between the lanes sending thousands of
racers on their way before hanging up his familiar straw hat
at the end of the 2011 season.
This years MC was the "retired"
Bob Frey who always knows his way around a mic. After giving
the First Lady of Racing a hug and his welcoming comments he
introduced the NHRA Motorsports Museum Executive Director, Larry
Fisher for his opening thoughts.
First off was a very special
award presented to the late Ron Johnson; his kids Kol and Connie
accepting. Sadly Ron passed just a week before this event that
he'd hoped to attend. The rarely given NHRA Motorsports Museum
Board of Directors Award was something Ron deserved.
His hand prints have been all
over the Cacklefest movement since 2003. He fielded 3 cacklecars;
the Chirs Karamesines "ChiZler", the Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer"
and the Shubert & Herbert SBC fueler. The ultimate fate of
those cars is yet to be decided. More relevant here is that he
owned Cacklefest.com. Shortly before his death, his close friend
and webmaster Don Ewald promised Ron he would keep the (this)
site going in his memory, a wish his widow Linda fully supports.
Connie and Kol flanked by the
President of the NHRA Glen Cromwell and Larry Fisher. Again,
a well deserved recognition for a great man.
As is customary, the Inductees
were introduced in alphabetical order starting with Pete Eastwood
who had some great stories from his past.
Pete and Greg Sharp
Next up was Bill Holland
with some of his memories from the day.
Next up was door car
expert, Bob Lambeck.
Then came the clever
and animated Bob Panella Sr.
Multi talented Jim Scott
relived some of his favorite moments.
Last but not least, NHRA
legend and Grand Marshall Rick Stewart.
The outdoor cackle was trimmed
down to two cars this time around. In 2015 there were six. That
said, the first to fire up was Andi Humenik's "Imposter"
which produced some very nice flames.
The other car in the
lot was Honoree Pete Eastwood in his "Old Master" AA/FD.
Rick Stewarrt and his
old Bakersfield buddy, Wayne King.
Unlike in years past, after the
cars shut down there were no outdoor red cup bunch this year
but a few did hang around for some bench racing. Here LtoR are
Harry Hibler, Roland Leong, Don Ewald, Joe Schubeck, Larry Fisher
and Ron Hampshire.
,Another group LtoR no ID on
first, Curt Hamilton, Don Prieto, Spider Razon, Kenny Logan,
Dave Jeffers, Barb Hogan and Henry Walther.
Wish we had more people
shots from this evening and if you have any, send them.
CHRR Photo Submission