CA - March 06-08, 2009: The 51st March Meet was in short an incredible
event. Under three days of Chamber of Commerce skies, the largest
car count/spectator attendance in history filled the hallowed
Famoso Dragstrip grounds for the event that lived up to its star
billing - and more.
John and Blake Bowser along with one of the best crews ever
assembled put on a drag race/car show for the ages. From the
full pits on Thursday to the Winners Circle shots on Sunday this
was an event brimming with an accommodating facility, incredible
racing surface, friendly staff, full bore fans, record performances
and a Cacklefest.
Unlike the NHRA CHRR, there was not 60+ cacklecars at the
March Meet, but 20 of the best accepted an invitation and filled
the head of the pits and The Grove past the 1st grandstand. The
cars were on display all with with most doing static fire-ups
every day. On Saturday they were all lined up in front of the
pit side grandstands and gave the crowd a full dose of nitro.
As always, it was a fun deal for the car owners, those who got
to sit in them and most of all the fans.
Without further ado, enjoy these photos documenting the show.
Photos by: Bob Brown, Stephen
Justice, Dan Kaplan, Tim Hanaseth, Pam Schavrien, Paul Hutchins,
Darrell Conrad, John Ewald and Don Ewald.
The weekend started on an uncertain
note for Don Ewald and Dan Kaplan on Wednesday when heavy snow
made coming over the Siskiyou Mountains from Oregon to NoCal
an interesting journey. At this point the weather reports from
Kern County for the weekend were iffy so the whole trip was a
leap of faith from the start.
But what a difference a day made.
Although Thursday brought cold temps with overcast skies, the
Media Day production went off without a hitch.
Cars from every class including
Cacklefest were on display and featured for the annual Media
Day with prominent city and state officials and local TV stations
and newspapers in attendance.
Track Manager, Blake Bowser was
the MC and ultimately the recipient of several awards. Among
all the sports media, Mike Griffith of the Bakersfield Californian
was there, along with Suzanne Grant of KUZZ radio and KBAK-TV
came out to shoot for the local news.
Don Cohen, Bakersfield Convention
and Visitors Bureau Manager presented Blake with a plaque of
appreciation from the city.
Kimberly Mullins, the Field Representative
for Supervisor Jon McQuiston's office. (Kern County Supervisor).
Tracey LaMonica, the Field Rep
from Senator Roy Ashburn's office (California State Senator).
Following the presentations Brad
Thompson and his new NTF car supplied to first dose of nitro
of the weekend.
Following Thompson was Don Cohen
in John Ewald's Mastercar for the first cacklecar fire-up of
March Meet PR Direction
Bill Groak got his first fire-up in a race car as well.
Suzanne Grant of KUZZ
Don Cohen with Blake
and camera shy John Bowser.
Representing HSMS was Frankie
Hedge, CEO Dale Singh and co-crew chief and test driver Sean
Don Ewald, Brad Thompson
and Pete Starrett.
Steve Gibbs and Tom Shelar.
John Ewald heading back
to the pits in his Mastercar.
Back in the pits the folks in
The Grove were set up (or getting set up) and in relax mode.
In the Frantic 4 area was Julie Lee, Dennis Prater, Darrell Tedford,
Norm Weekly and Ron Miller.
Blake Bowser and the most famous
drag racer in Bakersfield history, James Warren.
The Bowser's, being huge supporters
of drag racing history, gave the cacklecars a huge hunk of prime
real estate to set up the main display and by early Thursday
it was already shaping up nicely.
The trickest pit cart award went
to this real deal bumper car fitted on a custom chassis and powered
by a small motorcycle engine.
Set up day left plenty
of time to BS.
Another new addition
to The Patch are these benches acknowledging past CHRR honorees.
Believe it or not, even cacklecars
need regular oil changes. Ron and Kol Johnson did so on the Barnstormer.
Friday morning, while most of
us were still in bed, Ron and Kol Johnson along with Marc McCormick
were on the track to do a live KERO-TV spot with reporter Melissa
Vreeman on the local news. Rusk also got in the car for a live,
on air fire-up.
With the sky still filled with
clouds the main cacklecar area was all but full before noon on
Friday. Cars included in the compound were Sonny Messner's Don
Garlits Swamp Rat III, the Ewald Bros. BankAmericar, John Ewald's
Mastercar, Bob Hirsch's Marvin Schwartz "Anaconda",
Bobby Hansen's Wynn's Spoiler, Dennis Young and George Bukureshliev
with the Ash Marshall "Scorcher", Ron Johnson's Shubert
& Herbert and Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer", Paul Schavrien's
"The Poachers", Baney & Rossi Yeakle Plymouth Spec.
and the Warren-Coburn-Miller resto.
The first fan fire-up of the
day was Mike Cox who owns the Glass House in San Dimus in the
BankAmericar. This woke everybody up big time and got the other
players in gear.
Bob Danly (aka McGiver)
oversaw the fire-up.
Herm Petersen was all over the
place with his Cacklecar Decibel Meters. Last year he started
out with one but came back in 2009 with this dual set up. His
logic is to collect "cackle DBs" in both meters and
average them to find the loudest car. At the end of the weekend
the winner was Art Chrisman at 125.8. The BankAmericar came is
second at 124.2. You can fill all this in your book of useless
facts that will not change the course of history. <grin>
Immediately following the BankAmericar
was the Mastercar with Dave Jackson in the seat. Dave has worked
for comedy legend Jerry Lewis for the last two decades.
Video of Dave Jackson
Sam Chastain loads the
Anaconda with the good stuff.
With owner Bob Hirsch
in the seat the Anaconda drew a crowd.
Paul Rossi never lets
the dust setting on the Yeakle car.
from the roof of the Renegade Cacklefest Tour trailer.
This was a gathering of those
who were on hand that raced at the 1959 March Meet. Pretty impressive
The pits were full from
the staging lanes to the time ticket booth.
The staging lanes never
seemed to be empty.
Back in The Grove, Mousie
Marcellis was set up with the Winged Express.
The McCloud brothers
were on hand with their Dean Engineering Spec.
Orah Mae and Robin Millar
were in their usual spot with their DRAGcartoon goodies.
The March Meet marked the long
awaited debut of Roger & Julie Lee's recreated the Brissette
& Sutherland AA/FD. This piece has to be seen to really be
appreciated. Lee, an award winning model builder, took this project
to full scale building the car in his garage. The fuel tank was
replicated by the orginal builder, Doug Kruse, the tube bending
and welding was the only things Lee didn't do. The 354 Hemi is
being built by Dexter "POPS" Bradford and will be ready
for the 2009 CHRR.
Lee started the project after
getting the blessings of both Jim Brissette and Paul Sutherland.
Since the original car was long gone, it had to be recreated
from scratch. Working from blueprints drafted by himself, Lee
did a brilliant job of bringing back one of the hardest charging
fuelers of the 60s.... a bad to the bone "business coupe"
digger that was built with function over form.
Roger with Bill Dunlap
On Sunday Jim Brissette came
out to see this masterpiece for himself and to say he was impressed
and flattered would be an understatement.
Dode Martin's Dragmaster
Dennis Prater's beautiful
Stellings & Hampshire cackler.
Back at the Frantic 4 camp Norm
put Paula Roth in the car to test his new Kuhl tune-up. It sounded
Back in the compound, by Friday
afternoon there was a constant flow of fans especially when someone
was doing a fire-up.
James Warren was a fixture
in the area - wonder why?