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Bakersfield, CA - 10/26/18: The 27th edition of the California Hot Rod Reunion set a great stage for next years 28th event. Car count was up from last year, participant satisfaction was way up and the fans were back on board. It was proved once again, if its not broke, don't try to fix it. This had the feel of pre-2016 Cacklefests. High five to all who made it happen.

Unlike the March Meet, the CHRR is a reunion that includes a race. Its a place and time where old friends meet, new friends are made and those no longer with us honored. A huge part of the history/friendship aspect is the legendary original Cacklefest® now in its 18th year.

Enjoying a entire weekend of Chamber of Commerce weather, the fans enjoyed a great race and a large number of cacklecars. The NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum and the crew at Famoso insured those in attendance enjoyed 3 full days of unleashed cacklecars and the reason the reunion started in the first place, friends getting together while we still can.

Racing aside, this site is about the Cacklefest® and all that surrounds it. That always begins with the Honoree Ceremony at the Double Tree Hotel on Friday night. It is also the official kick off of endless fire-ups.


Honoree Presentations


Grand Marshal Kelly Brown led the list of 2018 Honorees for California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California

Along with Brown, the rest of the 2018 honorees at the annual fan-favorite event include Bob Brandt, Jerry Darien, Jim Murphy, Rick Voegelin and Dave Wallace Jr. The Honoree Reception took place on Friday night at the Doubletree Hotel in Bakersfield with many fans and peers in attendance.

Without further ado, lets join the party.


Bob Brandt was a top-shelf crew chief, working for Don “the Snake” Prudhomme during his run of four straight Funny Car championships from 1975 to 1979. He was a part of Prudhomme’s 34 national event wins in the process. He started working with Prudhomme in 1970, quickly earning his role as crew chief. Prudhomme and Brandt had immense success and set many national records, including the first five-second run and 250 mph run. He served as crew chief for Top Fuel’s Gary Ormsby in the 1980s, also tuning Cruz Pedregon to eight Funny Car wins in 1994 and 1995. Brandt also worked with crew chief Dan Olson during Tony Schumacher’s 1999 Top Fuel season that ended with his first championship.




Jerry Darien grabbed a Top Alcohol Dragster win at the 1981 Winternationals, but his career included much more as a engine builder, tuner and mentor to top names like Gary Scelzi, Brandon Bernstein, Morgan Lucas, Courtney Force, Brittany Force, Melanie Troxel, Ashley Force-Hood and Frank Pedregon. In all, competitors under his guidance have won more than 100 races and captured three world championships. Darien started competing in 1973, moving to engine work in 1989. This year, a pair of Darien’s Hemi engines were used by Danny Thompson to set a new world Land Speed Record of 448.757 mph.




Jim Murphy claimed the 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Nostalgia Top Fuel championship, but his successful racing career dates back to the 1970s. Murphy raced Top Fuel from 1973-1976, competing on a limited basis after that through 1985, moving to the Funny Car ranks until 1993. He moved to the Nostalgia Top Fuel ranks a few years later and has enjoyed impressive success in the class, winning his third March Meet in 2003 and making the first 250-mph run the same year. The 2017 championship was his second in the NHRA Heritage Series.




Honoree Rick Voegelin was a popular technical journalist for decades, working for Car Craft Magazine in the 1970s and moving into public relations effort for three decades following. After graduating as a Regents Scholar at Stanford University, he soon started working for Car Craft, becoming a key figure in the magazines success. From there, Voegelin founded his own public relations and advertising agency, High Performance Communications, in 1979, a three-decade tenure that saw him work with the top racers, manufacturers and racing series sanctioning bodies.




Dave Wallace Jr., a 2018 honoree, had his first byline by age 14, becoming a reporter for Hot Rod in the 1970s. After putting together three successful one-shot drag racing history books, he ran Drag Racing magazine for four years from 1984-1987. Following that, he opened his own advertising agency, also serving as editor of Hot Rod Deluxe before being inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2008.




Grand Marshall Kelly Brown. As a teenager he hitchhiked to the first Bakersfield March Meet in 1959 and was an instant fan of the sport, advancing to the Top Gas finals at the 1967 Winternationals. Jim Brissette hired him for Top Fuel testing the next year and Brown earned runner-up finishes at the Springnationals and U.S. Nationals. Brown earned a runner-up in Funny Car at the Springnationals in 1971, moving back to Top Fuel after a five-year hiatus doing stunt work. He won three events in 1978 en route to the championship, earning a spot on the Car Craft Magazine All-Star Drag Racing team. He won four events, including the U.S. Nationals, the following year, and was eventually inducted in the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame this year.




Folks started filling the room before 7, great time for mixing and catching up.




Roland Leong and Bob, one can only guess at the conversation.


Lovely Linda


Jim and Judy Murphy


Sky Wallace and Wayne King


Alison Lee and Steve Gibbs, great history here.


Jay Carpenter and Marvin "Who" Graham


Famoso Media Director Kleet Norris who is already gearing up for the 2019 March Meet and NHRA staff photog Mark Gewertz. Guess which one can shoot over the other wall hangers?


Original Burbank Road Kings. Don Ratican, Bob Muravez and Tommy Ivo.


Spider Razon - Dead End Kids and great custom shirts.


Kelly Brown never drove for Alison Lee, but he would have been proud to.


Jim and Carol Brissette


Don & Patty Prieto


Passing of the guard, Bob McClurg and Mark Gewertz, both great shooters.


You want history - Ed Pink. Don Prudhomme and Roland Leong.


Dan Kaplan and "Flyin Phil" Elliott




To start things off, the "retired" MC Bob Frey led with a great monologue.



Frey then introduced the NHRA Motorsports Museum Executive Director, Larry Fisher who gave his opening remarks, welcomed and thanked those in attendance.


Frey introduced NHRA Motorsports Museum Curator, Greg Sharp.who said his opening remarks





Leading off the honorees was Bob Brandt who made fuel cars go fast for decades.








Then came the star maker, racer Jerry Darien.








Over the last five decades the next honoree has drag raced everything but a snowmobile, Jim Murphy.








Over the years Rick Voegelin fixed more car problems than a fleet of GEO mechanics. His advice and direction is responsible for countless race cars and hot rods working right.








Drag racing editor at large Dave Wallace Jr. supplied some comic relief.








The man of the hour, Grand Marshall Kelly Brown.




Ivo was amused.



Great to see Steve and Cindy Gibbs on hand and moreso having Kelly Brown acknowledge Steve for the decates of service he gave NHRA and the racers. Both Gibbs and Brown got a standing ovation on that one.






The Class of 2018




Following the ceremonies it was time to burn some nitro. The three cars picked to do the honors this year were the McCloud Bros. Dean Engineering Spec. beauty and the ground pounding Prentess Cunningham AA/FD of Robert Contorell, Jerry "The King" Ruth in his Don Long business coupe. They were fired one at a time to let everyone appreciate each car.































In honor of the late Ron Johnson his Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer" was on display front and center.





Unlike years past, after the cars shut down there were only a few outdoor red Dixie cup bunch. Just another aspect of this once party-filled night that will either recover, or not.



The spot-on recreation by Don Prieto of Tommy Ivo's 1959 Buick powered dragster took center stage in the Double Tree lobby.



The hanger-ons included Dan Broussard , Ronnie Hampshire and Greg Gonzalez who is the nephew of of tennis great Ponch Gonzlaez.


Dave Jeffers, Spider Razon, Harry Hibler and no ID


Don Ewald, Tom Ivo and Zane Shubert.


The On The Wall Gang.


Jeep Hampshire. ???, Kenny and Terri Youngblood.




Untitled Document


2018 CHRR Racing Coverage




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