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Bakersfield, CA - October 12-14, 2007: The 16th NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion lived up to its star billing in spades. From the opening of the gates on Friday, record crowds filled Famoso Raceway through eliminations on Sunday. They literally ran out of pit space and the RV side of the track was 10 deep for the entire quarter mile. Along with some 400 race cars there were no less than 64 cacklecars on hand - another record. In short it was one awesome weekend.
Now with the seventh edition of Cacklefest in the books, to use movie terminology, what was once a "Short Subject" and now qualifies as a full fledged "Epic" of sights and sounds. It is apparent that after 16 years the California Hot Rod Reunion has become "The" cornerstone event of the season for Nostalgia Drag Racing and many will say that Cacklefest is its heartbeat. It's impossible to tell how many of the sell-out crowds came primarily for the Friday and Saturday night extravaganzas. The horde of spectators at the DoubleTree "Fire-up" on Friday night and the full stands at 9:00 p.m Saturday night would suggest it's a lot.
There was a full complement of return cacklecars and several first timers including but not limited to the beautiful Smirnoff AA/FD restored by Joe Passelaqua, the Yeakel Plymouth Spec. AA/FD restored by Steve Davis, the Starlite III restored by Bill Turney, the Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer" recreated by Ron Johnson, the Mondello & Matsubara AA/FA restored by Karpo Murkijanian and Pete Eastwood, the Northwind AA/FD restored by Jack Coonrod, the Dead End Kids A/FD recreated by Dave Jeffers and Bucky Austin and the Warren, Coburn, Miller AA/FD restored by Dave Beck.
It is our pleasure to present the end result of the efforts of Tony Thacker, Steve Gibbs, Greg Sharp, Wayne Allison and the rest of the staff of the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum. Kudos as well to Blake and John Bowser and the Famoso Raceway staff for superbly preparing the facility.
Photos by: Bob Brown, Jason Ellis, Steve Justice, Dan Kaplan, Tim Hanaseth, Pam Schavrien, Paul Hutchins, John Moore, A.J. Ewald, Darrell Conrad, Ron Johnson, Robbie Robertson, Bryan Riffle, Tom Hurley, Pete Gemar, Fred Young and Don Ewald.
Cacklefest officially kicks off amid the Honorees Ceremony at the Double Tree Hotel on Friday night. This year we will start at the beginning and share some of what goes on inside before the cacklecars star outside.
Along with a Wally, each honoree is presented with an original pencil art by Carl and Kathy Olson's daughter, Shannon depicting them in the height of their drag racing careers. Here we have the 2007 Grand Marshall, Ed "The Ace" McCulloch and Honoree, "Li'l John" Buttera.
Honorees Mike Jones and the team of Mike Kuhl and Carl Olson. Honorees Rocky Childs and Jim Albert and finally the legendary Red Greth.
The program started at 7:30 but the room filled up much earlier as this always plays to a full house.
As he has since day one, Dave McClelland served as Master of Ceremonies. Steve Gibbs is a key figure in all that goes on during the CHRR. Mac with Kuhl & Olson ... one of the most enduring owner/driver teams in Top Fuel history.
Childs & Albert were leaders in the speed equipment industry for many years and campaigned several Top Fuel dragsters.
The forever smiling "Speed Sport" Red Greth.
Honoree Mike Jones - hot rodder, track manager and air racer. Most remember him from his tenure at Orange County International Raceway.
John Buttera is in very poor health but with the help of his family was able to attend the CHRR Friday night and Saturday. Aside from all the legendary funny cars Buttera built over his career, he currently has two 1960's dragsters participating in Cacklefest - the Swamp Fox and the BankAmericar (the last FED he ever built).
The Automobile Club of Southern California is the major supporter of the NHRA Wally Parks Museum, Famoso Raceway the CHRR and more. Here Rick Lalor addresses the audience.
Mac with Tony Thacker honor the Justice Bros for the continued support on the CHRR. Tommy Ivo represented the upcoming celebration of the 1st British International Drag Festival in 1964. Grand Marshall Ed "The Ace" McCulloch. If you don't know about The Ace you're probably not looking at this anyway.
Poised in the main hotel lobby was the Ivo Showboat recently (and perfectly) recreated by Bruce Dyda.
Wayne Kind, James Warren and Tom Jobe. Don Prudhomme was in rare form - having fun. Roland Leong and old friend The Ace.
Meanwhile outside a record five cacklecars - all debuting this year - were poised to rattle the windows of the DoubleTree. On hand were the Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer" recreated by Ron Johnson, the newly restored Baney & McEwen Yeakel Plymouth Spec., the newly restored "Northwind" AA/FD, and the Mondello & Matsubara AA/FA,
McCulloch sits in his old ride for the first time in 40 years. I think he's happy.
Just before Ivo got into the Barnstormer, Don Gaide presented him with his latest invention. A Cacklefest push start periscope which allows the driver to see around any obstructive blower. The joke was a reference to Tom's accidental rear ending of Garlits during the 2007 NHRR Cacklefest at Columbus.
Tom Ivo is poised and ready in the Barnstormer. First to fire was Paul Rossi in the seat of Yeakel Plymouth Spec.
Ron Johnson primes the Barnstormer. Joe Mondello in the seat of the Mondello & Matsubara AA/FA. The last car to fire was the Northwind. CHRR Cacklefest Page 2 CHRR Cacklefest Page 3 CHRR Cacklefest Page 4 2006 CHRR Cacklefest DVD