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
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 Prudhommes
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 Fuels 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 Schumachers
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
Dariens 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
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.
Jim and Judy Murphy
Sky Wallace and Wayne
Alison Lee and Steve
Gibbs, great history here.
Jay Carpenter and Marvin
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
To start things off,
the "retired" MC Bob Frey led with a great monologue.
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
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
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
In honor of the late Ron Johnson
his Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer" was on display front and
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
The On The Wall Gang.
Jeep Hampshire. ???,
Kenny and Terri Youngblood.