BAKERSFIELD, Calif. October 24, 2022 – The 2022 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 Series.

I cover the race round by round in photos, I will leave the very best write up to Bobby Bennett at Competiton Plus.


Photos by Bob Brown, Ken Hughes, Don Ewald and Dan Kaplan
Proof Reader: Bob Brown




Bob and Tyler Hilton invested considerably in their Top Fuel program before the California Hot Rod Reunion. That investment was purchasing a championship-proven dragster previously campaigned by Tony Bartone and Steve Boggs in hopes of helping Tyler have a realistic shot of winning the 2022 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship. Well, it paid off for them. 

For years Bob Hilton believed his BBC Powered "Great Expectations III" was the way to go, until he didn't. After fighting breakage and disappoining performances for 5 years he went back to his hemi roots and came out kicking asses and taking names. I hear he's got a lot of BBC parts for sale.

That said, after a string of impressive times including Tyler’s personal best, they would meet Pete Kaiser in the final. Kaiser, who tuned Dan Horan to the 2021 Heritage series Top Fuel championship, jumped back behind the wheel of a Top Fuel Dragster (Horans's car) for the first time in six years, and it seemed as if he never left.

At the hint of yellow Kaiser got the jump as both drivers thundered down the track with header flames high in the sky. 1320 feel later Hilton came out on top, running an impressive 5.645 at 238 mph to Kaiser's 5.704 at 251, putting an exclamation point on his weekend in Bakersfield.  

"We've been to a couple of finals here," Hilton said. "It's Bakersfield. It's Famoso. The history of it is significant to us too. The history of Top Fuel and nitro racing. And so that's part of it too. So yeah, it means a lot to win this race, for sure." 





"Problem Child" it was not. Billy Morris drove his way to his first NHRA Heritage Series race win, stopping Tony Jurado in the Nostalgia Funny car [AA/FC] finals of the California Hot Rod Reunion.

Morris, a former drag boat racer who converted to drag racing on land several years ago, had reached the final round against Jurado with a series of impressive wins. On paper it was a toss up and it played out that way. Morris left first and covered the quarter mile in 5.589 at 251.29. Juardo ran a game 5.662 at 262.18.




The popular AA/FA class boilded down to veteran Johnny West and veteran campaigner Tom Padilla in his Red Dragon. West left first by a bunch and never looked back. His 6.064 and 217 was more than enough to best Padilla's 6.705 at 150.08. It was West's first win in the class.





Funny Car Qualifying Session One

Friday, midday. let the games begin.


Ironically the first funny car on the track for the weekend was the last car to go down the track on Sunday. Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" was paired with Kamaka Pocock in the "California Hustler".





At the other end it was a great drag race with Morris carding a 5.723 at 239.10 and Pocock with a 5.761 at 250.97. This would be the story of Morris' day.




Second pair matched Matt Bynum in the new "Nitro Nick" car (ex-Jim Head big show car) and Tony Jurado.






With Bynum beached, Jurado got in a good data pass, 5.92 at 223.06.






Next pair to heat the tires was Jeff Gregory in "Madness" and Chris Davis in his '77 Plymouth Arrow.







No Times




Out next for their first shot at the track were Geoff Monise in the "Quarter Pounder" '70 Firebird and Tim Boychuk in his "Happy Hour" Camaro Z28.






At the other end neither were calling home. Boychuck carded a 6.14 at 171.18 and Monise clicked it to a 6.691at 117.71.




Up next was Bill Windham in his "Shakedown" and Series champ (again) Bobby Cottrell in the Austin & O'Brian car.







No surprise here, Cottrell to the top with a 5.697 at 250.74. Windham slowed to a 7.08 at 128.59 putting him on the bubble.




Out next was the versitile Cory Lee in the "Pedaler" '79 Challenger and Dan Horan in his 69 Camaro. A whole lot of blue and yellow goin' on here.








Just like that Horan went to #3 with a 5.708 at 253.61. Lee scored a 6.004 at 244.52.




Out next a pair from up north. Mike Peck Sr and Drew Austin, both driving '70 Camaros.







Peck had the spotlight here. His 5.765 at 255.97 landed him #6 with top speed of the session. Austin's 18.28 was a throw away.




Out in the Bonin/Verheul Bubble-Up tribute car was Nathan Sitko from Edmonton, Alberta. and James Day in the Matthew's Motorsports entry.










Day went on to card a 7.702 at 241.28. Sitko posted a 6.01 at 237.59. At this point Day was outside looking in.




Then it was Brad Thompson in his "Jail Break" '69 Camaro and Jeff Utterback in the "Advanced Surfaces" '74 Vega.








Thompson shut off to a 6.35 at 219.90 as did Utterback to a 6.44 at 223.36. And so ends FC Q1.




Top Fuel Qualifying Session One

Only Session on Friday


The first long car on the track was Brendan Murry on a single.







Murrry went to the provisional #5 spot with a 6.664 at d159.87





The first pair was Bret Williamson who was just two round wins away from the 2022 TF championship and former champ Pete Wittenberg.







Williamson carded a 5.999 at 251.06. In the days of 8 cars or less on the property that would be solidly in the show. Not so when there are 15 cars vieing for the 8 spots. Keep this in mind when the field is set.


Wittenberg shut off very early with a 7.277 at 124.38.





Next out was Shawn Bowen all the way out from Michigan and Phil Ruskowski in his SBC car down from Victoria BC Canada.








Ruskowski just missed the bump witha 8.449 at 108.95 while Bowen coasted to a 9.51 at 84 mph.





Into the waterbox next was Brian Hall in his "Nomad" and Michael Anderson in from Texas.






Hall went to the #7 spot with a 6.84 at 204.54. Anderson shut off way early to a 8.85.







This match up would prove to be a preview of the fianl on Sunday. Pete Kaiser in Dan Horan's late model hemi car and Tyler Hilton in the new "Great Expectations".








The results were also a preview of the fianl, Hilton went to the top with a 5.751 at just 226 Kaiser was right behind him with a 5.79 at 244.83.





Next up were Tyler Hester in the Overtime Special and Dusty Green.







Green crossed the center line with a 6.31 at 166.70 that was DQed. Hester slowed to a 6.54 at 172.98.






Next to last pair was Shane Stewart and and Jim Murphy in his WW2 Racing entry.









Stewart clicked it early to a 6.62 at 158.61. Murphy clicked it earlier to a 7.27.






The final pair of the first of three sessions was Frank McBee Jr. and Adam Sorokin in the Champion Speed Shop entry.










Could have been tire rattle but something popped a couple of Dzus fasteners off the side panel.


Mc Bee shut off early to a 6.35 while Sorokin clocked a solid baseline 5.75 at 244.88




Side Note from Bob Brown: Interesting observation about Adam’s side panel and the Dzus fastener. I looked through all my images and no Dzus on the track, however it appeared that the front-right panels were misaligned even before the run on the burnout. The Champion Speed Shop lettering shows this where the tops of some of the letters don’t line up with what is below. Also might be a kink in the top nose piece at that area judging by light reflections showing that the panels aren’t nested together properly in burnout pics and something was already tweaked. I see in your top end shot that the panel was still on the car... lucky thing as it might have lacerated the RH slick had it been rolled upon.









1: FC & TF Qualifying Session 1

2: FC & TF Qualifying Session 2

3: FC & TF Qualifying Session 3

4: FC & TF Round 1 Eliminations

5: FC Rounds 2&3 - TF Round 2

6: AA/FA, FC & TF Finals - Winners Circle All - 2022 CHRR Honoree Event

7: AA/FA Best Of plus Other Cars




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


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