BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (October
27, 2019) The 2019 California Hot Rod Reunion® presented
by Automobile Club of Southern California completed competition
at Auto Club Famoso Raceway on Sunday crowning not only event
winners but also all the champions in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage
For the second consecutive year,
Mendy Fry raced her High Speed Motorsports dragster to victory
with a run of 5.526-seconds at 264.91 mph in the Nostalgia Top
Fuel final against Pete Wittenberg who red lit at the starting
line. The 2019 NHRA Heritage Series World Champion was also the
low qualifier of the event. The win and season was dedicated
to team owner Tom Shelar who unexpectedly passed away in August.
"This was just the most
emotional roller coaster I think I've been on," said Fry.
"Because I thought I lost on a holeshot. He (Wittenberg)
beat me to the stripe, and I should have known to look up (to
see if the win light was on). So I thought I lost on a holeshot
and then I found out that I won! I cannot say enough about this
team for giving me a car that is the car to beat every time.
It's just incredible."
In Nostalgia Funny Car, Bobby
Cottrell landed in the winner's circle when he ran a 5.675 at
249.90 in his 1969 Camaro bettering Tony Jurado's pass of 5.859
at 233.80. Cottrell also clinched the NHRA Heritage Series World
Championship in the category for the second year in a row.
Other winners included Jason
Richey in Fuel Altered, Shayne Stewart in A / Fuel, Brad Woodard
in Junior Fuel, Brad Denney in 7.0 Pro, Dan Schrokosch in Nostalgia
Eliminator 1, Eddie Lucas in Nostalgia Eliminator 2, Darren Hopkins
in Nostalgia Eliminator 3, Brian Rogers in A / Gas, Brent Handley
in B / Gas, Mike Rabener in C / Gas, Don Fournier in D / Gas,
Howard Anderson in AA / Gas, Mike Maggio in Pro Mod, Bob Patten
in A / FX, and A.J. Thomas in Hot Rod.
The 2019 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage
Series champions are Mendy Fry in Top Fuel, Bobby Cottrell in
Funny Car, Drew Austin in A / Fuel, Brad Woodard in Jr. Fuel,
Steve Faller in 7.0 Pro, Dave Lawson in Nostalgia Eliminator
1, Eddie Lucas in Nostalgia Eliminator 2, Don Morris in Nostalgia
Eliminator 3, Casey Treuer in A / Gas, Neal Westbrook in B /
Gas, Mike Rabener in C / Gas, Bill Norton in D / Gas, and Henry
Roberson in Hot Rod.
Mendy Fry arrived
at the 27th California Hot Rod Reunion with the 2018 NHRA Hot
Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel championship already in hand then
drove the High-Speed Motorsports AA/FD to the event win. Her
Top Fuel victory at Famoso Raceway marked a four-peat season
clincher for Fry and the team after successive wins the National
Hot Rod Reunion, Nightfire Nationals and Tulsa Nitro Nationals.It
was a banner year for Fry, who has put together impressive performances
time and time again. But even with the championship clinched,
the team wanted to cap the season with a CHRR win.
a total celebratory weekend, but were not going to the
(Hot Rod Reunion®) just to sit on our butts and celebrate,
Fry said. There are real rivalries that have formed this
year and clinching the title early has only intensified that.
For me, winning the title makes it even more important to do
well at this race. Weve had a great season and to go and
lay an egg at the reunion would really be anticlimactic. I feel
like we can go and kick some butt.
the theme this season for Fry, who has enjoyed immense success
driving the High-Speed Motorsports dragster for Tom Shelar. After
racing in Nostalgia Funny Car, Fry went back to the Top Fuel
ranks in 2017, joining up with Shelar for a memorable campaign.
She won the March Meet in Bakersfield that year, finishing second
to Jim Young in a tight points battle. But this season Fry and
her team have been a step ahead, consistently running low E.T.
and top speed at nearly every event, going to four final rounds.
While its already been a dream season for Fry, winning the Hot
Rod Reunion® would be the ultimate capper to the season.
belongs to the team, Fry said. Theyve upped
the bar for me as a driver, and thankfully I havent screwed
it up this year. The thing thats really helped is getting
to know the car. Theyre giving me something that repeats
and because the team is so consistent and the maintenance on
the car is second to none, it's really upped my confidence level.
I love this track and going there. My first Top Fuel win happened
at the March Meet and it feels like Im home there.
only one round of racing this year, ran the table on Low ET and
Top Speed at every event except for Top Speed at the National
Hot Rod Reunion. Id say Tom Shelar and the crew have it
dialed in. My team gave me the car to beat, and I didnt
screw it up. So this win is theirs. Im just glad they picked
me. said Mendy.
Like Fry, Bobby
Cottrell landed in the CHRR winner's circle when he ran a 5.675
at 249.90 in the Austin & O'Brien 1969 Camaro beating Tony
Jurado's 5.859 at 233.80. And like Mendy, Cottrell also clinched
his second straight NHRA Heritage Series World Championship.
"This day's been very hectic.
We hurt a lot of parts. Anybody that hung around our pits between
rounds knows we didn't back into this. We worked our you-know-what's
off. I can't thank this crew enough. To win (the championship)
back-to-back is just a dream come true. I didn't even think we'd
have half the success we have had in the past few years but I'm
very thankful to Bucky (Austin, owner / crew chief) and the whole
Austin / O'Brien team. I'm really, really happy. I couldn't have
asked for a better team."
further ado, I'll start the race coverage and there is a lot
BUT FIRST, I'm
compelled to respond to those who don't understand why I spend
so much time and use so many photos publishing my coverage of
major nostalgia events.
The answers are
simple and to start, nobody else would.
(1) My site is
"We Did It For Love" named so from my era, and if you
look at the "prize money" afforded to today's nostalgia
nitro racing, you have to be naïve to not see they are doing
it for love as well.
(2) I choose
to use over 3000 photos to make sure most every car gets their
efforts recognized. Everyone seems to throw up a few shots of
the favorite cars with little or no background and call it good.
Magazines might use 5 to 20 photos (on the high side) and some
do a good job of text reporting. Photos on Facebook, Twitter
etc. are gone the next day but a website can be revisited time
and again and never gets thrown in the recycle bin.
(3) I want my
photographers to have a place to showcase their work. To show
different angles and aspects of the many runs over a weekend.
To show the crews in the background and the fun stuff that happens
on the sidelines. To show the good, bad and ugly. To honor the
winners. To afford today's "armature" racers the coverage
that was impossible in my day.
That said, if
any business would like to sponsor an event coverage, like this
one, that gets thousands of views, I'm all ears.
again, without further ado, we'll start the race coverage.
Car Qualifying Session One
midday. let the games begin.
First pair, first
session. Mike Halstead from Sonora, CA, driving the "Smokeys
Dark Side" '78 Challenger along side Matt Bynum out of Ypsianti
MI, in the "Nitro Nick" '70 Camaro.
Bynum comes right out of the
box with a stout 5.695 at 260.76 while Halstead clocked a data
gathering 6.182 at 236.01.
Pair two featured the points
leader (at this time) Bobby Cottrell from Whittier CA, driving
the Austin & O'Brien '69 Camaro. And, in the other lane was
Brad Thompson from right up Hwy. 99 in Visalia, driving his Jail
Break 70 Camaro.
Some of the funny car BUGs took
full advantage of Halloween season donning some wild costumes
like Jana Thompson and Heidi Austin-Root in this pair.
HELLO! Out of the box Cottrell goes low for the day
carding a 5.635 at 259.61.
Thompson clicked it early
with damage carding a 6.079 at 210.54.
With some big numbers already
on the board next out was Kris Krabill from Tacoma WA, in the
seat of the Cascade Automotive '69 Camaro.
Sporting a new body after their
March Meet kaboom was Stephen Densham from Oceanside CA, in the
"Teachers Pet" '69 Camaro.
Densham nailed down another impressive
number for the session, his 5.739 at 250.09 would land him #5
for the day. Krabill had an ET that didn't go with the mph carding
a 5.910 at 243.99
Under sunny skies, next out was
Ryan Hodgson down from Edmonton AB in the Pacemaker '69 Camaro.
In the other lane was Billy Morris out of La Quinta, CA, in the
repaired "Problem Child" '69 Camaro.
Hodgson stopped the clocks with
a not great but good data gathering 5.816 at 248.84. Morris did
a planned shut-off 12.71.
Up next was Cory Lee up from
Oceanside, CA, in the Pedaler '79 Challenger along with Danny
Gerber out of Orange CA, in the family "Wasn't Easy"
'78 Trans AM.
Gerber went into near
instant tire shake and clicked it.
Lee had a decent mph with a lame
ET. His 6.012 at 244.12 was good for #15 at the end of the day.
Next pair matched second generation
driver Justin Tayor of Anaheim, Ca, in the "Evil Wicked
Mean & Nasty" '73 Mustang along side Jeff Arend who
lives in La Verne, CA, driving the "California Hustler"
At this point Arend was still
in the championship hunt and his 5.776 at 252.05 didn't set him
back. Taylor carded a career best 5.816 at 248.84 which cemented
his shot at making the show.
Up next was Matt Melendez from
Glen Ellen CA, in the seat of the "Cacklin' Critter"
'70 Challenger paired with Jerry Espeseth from Yorba Linda CA,
in the ex-Littlefield & Rupert '69 Camaro now named "Atlas".
Melendez took a 5.795 at 235.89
slip back to the pits while Espeseth carded a baseline 5.94 at
Next to last pair matched Dan
Horan Jr. from Sylma,r CA, in his '69 Camaro along side Bill
Windham from El Dorado Hills, CA,in his "Shakedown"
Horan tripped the clocks with
a 5.738 at 257.92 which would be good for #4 at the end of the
day. Windham had a foreboding 6.43 at 221.28 which would define
The final pair of flopper for
Q1 featured Tony Jurado, Pleasanton CA, in his "Capital
Punishment" '69 Camaro. In the other lane was versatile
shoe James Day who hales from San Juan Capistrano CA, making
his debut in the unique, badass and very orange "Speed Sport"
'78 Dodge Omni.
Day dropped damn near every jaw
on the property with a maiden voyage time slip of 5.690 at 254.66
which was #2 for the day. Melendez went #11 with a 5.795 at 235.89.
Fuel Qualifying Session 1
Nostalgia Race Coverage like
this and more importantly the drag racing history on WDIFL will
cease sooner than later if racers and fans don't start supporting
WDFIL again. Thanks, Don