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
I cover the race round by round
in photos, I will leave the very best write up to Bobby Bennett
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 Tylers 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
Car Qualifying Session One
midday. let the games begin.
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
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
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
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.
Fuel Qualifying Session One
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
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 Adams 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 dont 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
arent 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.
CAR AND TOP FUEL Q2
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