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Bakersfield, CA - 10/26/16: The 26th edition of the California Hot Rod Reunion set a more positive stage for next year’s 27th event. Last year there were problems, feelings were hurt and fans disappointed. That was not the case this time out. Although the car count was down from 2016, and the fan base a little thinner, the NHRA Motorsports Museum's promise to return to the tried and true format for the weekend, including the push starts, were kept. By all accounts by those who did give the event another chance, all was good. Very good even. The fans left with smiles on their faces. Mission accomplished.

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 17th year.

In spite of a little rain Friday morning, the three day weekend featured Chamber of Commerce weather, great racing and a fair number of cacklecars. There was no doubt that Auto Club Famoso Raceway operators Blake and John Bowser had their facility ready for whatever was thrown at it.

Add to that the hard working folks from the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum and the crew at Famoso insured those in attendance enjoyed 3 full days of great racing, unleashed cacklecars and the reason the reunion started in the first place, friends getting together while we still can.

Another tradition that was absent last year but returned this year was the Friday night California Hot Rod Reunion Honoree Reception held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bakersfield, admission was free.. As it was overall, the head count was down but those who did attend had a great time. I'm betting 2018 will see a return of the masses.

The awards were followed by the traditional DoubleTree parking lot "Cacklefest Preview" that kicks off the official start of Cacklefest. We will start at the beginning and share some of what went on inside before two cacklecars started outside.


Honoree Presentations

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 California.

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 Jimmy Scott.

Without further ado, lets join the party.


Coming out of the hotbed of Southern California hot rodding known as Blair’s Speed Shop, Pete Eastwood could be called the consummate hot rodder. But that’s 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. Eastwood’s 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 “racer’s 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. Lambeck’s 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 record.




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 NHRA’s 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 his Corvette.

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 Stewart’s 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 Stewart’s 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 NHRA’s 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.
2017 CHRR Photo Submission




Untitled Document


2017 CHRR Racing Coverage




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