2010 CHRR Champs Left Hanging
Sorokin 2010 Hot Rod Heritage Top Fuel Champion



19th California Hot Rod Reunion finals to conclude at the 46th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals




Bakersfield, CA - 10/18/10: After three days of 90 degree sunshine the race had to be called due to inclement weather after the semi final rounds. Thus the 19th California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California finals in Nostalgia Top Fuel and Nostalgia Funny Car will be finished at the 46th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals held at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 10-13. Remaining classes (A/Fuel, Junior Fuel, A/Gas, AA/Gas, 7.0 Pro and Nostalgia Eliminator) divided the purse equally and the lowest elapsed time of each class in the previous round received the 19th California Hot Rod Reunion trophy.

“We stuck it out until Monday but we decided to call off the racing due to severe weather conditions,” said Greg Sharp, Reunion Event Director, “Reunion fans can expect to see more action come November as the CHRR Funny Car and Top Fuel Champions are crowned at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.”

Second-generation Top Fuel driver Adam Sorokin made it to the finals on the same track he won the 2010 March Meet in the Nostalgia Top Fuel class. He got there by getting by Keith Burgan, Brad Thompson and Jim Murphy. Sorokin posted his career-best elapsed time of 5.634 at 252.03 against Murphy in the semi finals and that win clinched the Nostalgic Top Fuel Champion in the 2010 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series.

Facing Sorokin at Pomona for the 2010 CHRR title will be Brett Harris who got the best of Rick White, Rick Williamson and 2009 CHRR winner, Rick McGee.

Semi-Final round results:

Nostalgia Top Fuel – Adam Sorokin, Sterling Dragster, 252.03, 5.634 def. Jim Murphy, 09 Thornhill, 104.04, 8.606.

Nostalgia Top Fuel – Brett Harris, Neil & Parks Dragster, 250.20, 5.776 def. Rick McGee, 97 Tedford, 132.68, 6.886.

In Nostalgia Funny Car, Leah Pruett-LeDuc and Mark Hentges will face off at the NHRA Finals for the California Hot Rod Reunion FC Championship. Hentges mowed over the field when he defeated Steven Densham with an elapsed time of 6.092 at 218.65. He also took down Kris Krabill and Dennis Swearingen.

Nostalgia Funny Car – Leah Pruett-LeDuc, 72 Mustang, 241.41, 5.823 def. Claude Lavoie, 72 GTX, 202.33, 6.036.

Nostalgia Funny Car – Mark Hentges, 78 Ply Arrow, 218.65, 6.092 def. Steven Densham, 69 Camaro, 171.13, 6.168

Complete Top Fuel round by round coverage will be featured here as soon as all the thousands of staff photos are received and processed. Funny Car will also be featured.



Adam Sorokin and the VanDyke Motorsports team, your 2010 Top Fuel Champions.


Sorokin and funny car champ, Leah Pruett-LeDuc




Final Top Fuel Qualifying Order:

01: Jim Murphy - 5.80/230.35
02: Rick White - 5.81/254.16
03: Rick McGee - 5.82/224.88
04: Adam Sorokin - 5.83/239.61
05: Brad Thompson - 5.85/204.59
06: Denver Schutz - 5.92/226.01
07: Rick Williamson - 5.95/242.98
08: Bill Dunlap - 5.95/211.61
09: Troy Green - 5.99/202.15
10: Brendan Murry - 6.06/222.55
11: James Day - 6.06/244.03
12: Brett Harris - 6.14/180.07
13: Mike McClennan - 6.18/217.46
14: Keith Burgan - 6.31/214.84
15: Rick Rogers - 6.35/227.23
16: John Weaver - 6.83/186.95




Top Fuel Preview - Semi Finals


The skies were getting a bit cloudy by the time the semis rolled around but it was still nice and the track was super tight. The first pair out was the match up of the event... Jim Murphy and Adam Sorokin. Sorokin came into the event trailing Jim Murphy by just nine points in Nostalgia Top Fuel and with a 17-point lead over Brad Thompson, who was third. Sorokin qualified sixth in the 16-car field and matched up with Thompson in round two, taking the win and eliminating Thompson from the title chase.... then there were two.



Sorokin left and much harder. His .033 RT trumped a .170 for Murphy in his defense, Murphy was already wounded before staging. It all started when someone forgot to install the throttle stop on the throttle linkage. Hence, on the burnout, the engine went to 12,500 RPM, bending many valves. It was running on 7 cyls., so Jim staged, just in case Sorokin red lighted. When he hit the throttle, it was way down on power so it didn't move so quick. He just ran it a little and clicked it off, watching the championship drive away.



Problems or not Sorokin would have been hard to beat on this one. His 1.01 60ft time and 210mph at half track were carried through for the best run of his career.






The blower had a 1320 foot fuse as there was a big BOOM in the lights followed by a flash fire. Adam was fine and a new unit was waiting in the trailer.









The other pair to see who would meet Sorokin in the final was Brett Harris in the Nitro Thunder "Big Red" and Rick McGee (2009 CHRR winner) in the Tedford & McGee "Overtime Special".


By the closest of margins Harris had lane choice (5.805 to 5.822).



Both drivers left together and it was a good drag race until McGee experienced engine problems while Harris never missed a beat.









Harris' 5.776 at 250.20 was more than good enough to send him to the finals while McGee coasted through with a 6.886 at 132.68.




The only incident of note in Top Fuel was the over handling of Butch Blair's Fugowie by alcohol funny car driver John Weaver who, in the first quaifying session started in the left lane and by the 1000' mark was in the right lane.



Luckly the car stayed on its side glued to the wall but suffered severe chassis damage.


Now for the rest of the story in the words of award winning photographer Mark Rebilas.

When a 200mph Parachute meets a Camera, the Camera Loses

"Normally when I post a drag racing blog I typically lead off with my coolest photo of the weekend. When a destroyed camera is the lead photo I am pretty sure you can guess what the story of the weekend will be for me!

For about the past eight years I have really gotten into setting up remote cameras. There are two reasons for this, one is to put a remote camera in a place thats too dangerous to stand or a place photographers are not allowed to stand. The second reason is by setting up a remote camera (or two) I am able to get multiple angles of the same moment. In the past several years I have done countless remotes. I have had some close calls but then again I have had many more close calls from where I myself was standing and had to run for my life or dive to the ground to avoid death. Thats all part of the job of being a sports photographer and its honestly part of the fun of my occupation.

For the California Hot Rod Reunion nostalgia drag race in Bakersfield, CA, I would set up a remote camera in a spot that I have done every year at that track for awhile. While setting up the Nikon D700 camera with a 400mm f2.8 lens that morning I had no idea that it would be the last time I would ever set up that camera again.

Shooting down past the finish line (top end is what its called in the biz) is by far the most dangerous place to shoot in any motorsports I have ever shot. The reward for that risk is you get really cool angles of the cars coming right towards you and it is also the best place to set up if you wanna shoot crashes (for those of you sick people into that sort of thing). Yea a big part of the danger is parts and pieces off of crashing or exploding cars but by far the biggest risk down there is parachutes coming over the wall and snatching you and/or your camera up. While its pretty rare, it has happened in the past and the results usually aren’t pretty.

I have shot countless crashes from the top end of numerous drag strips around the country but anytime I am at this particular track I have to be very mindful of whats going on. Most tracks have walls that are straight down to the track surface, at this track just past the finish line the walls in the shutdown area are like the walls in temporary construction zones where the bottom is wider than the top so if you hit it instead of bouncing off it the cars have a tendency to ride up on the wall which is very bad.

Below is an example of the straight walls (on left) and the beginning of the construction zone walls with the lip so you can better understand what I’m rambling about."


Below, my buddy Guy Rhodes lets me know that the camera is successfully firing as I tested the remotes range from my shooting position about 200 feet further down in the shutdown area.


Ok on to the moment of impact….

In the first round of qualifying for nostalgia top fuel dragster, driver John Weaver (in the far lane) would lose control while racing James Day.


I was initially following James Day in the near lane until I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Weaver was way out of control.



Weaver quickly got the parachutes out which usually straightens a car out….


But in this situation it appeared that the throttle was slightly stuck open (judging by the heat waves still pouring from the headers) so gaining control wasn’t gonna happen…


By this point it was time to make the decision to stay put and keep shooting or run like child. Below is my last shot I took before I bailed. (Note the remote camera being a bad ass and not running).


As I started running the camera fired the below frame which shows the car missing the camera but the parachute coming in to ruin the day.


When Weaver hit the wall the car rode up on the wall and rolled the car on its side. In the below frame from Guy Rhodes you can see the last instant of the cameras life…..
Photo by Guy Rhodes


After running from the track I quickly looked to make sure no parts or pieces were flying my direction before resuming shooting as the car headed away from me in a cloud of dust and smoke.


At that point I was pretty pissed that I ended up running for no reason and missed the crash but its better to be safe than sorry.

My anger quickly turned to shock when I looked over at the wall where I had my remote and noticed it was no longer there.


I started walking over to the spot expecting that the camera had simply fallen over to the ground during the crash….. until I saw my manfrotto magic arm and super clamp laying in the middle of the track.


At that point I knew I was completely screwed and began to pick up all the parts and pieces of my camera and lens.

My father Gil has destroyed at least four or five remote cameras in his career and I knew I would eventually kill a camera. I figured if it ever happened that I would quickly begin crying. Not sure why but I took the situation pretty well. Perhaps it was because several of my friends were across the track shooting me retrieving all the parts of the camera but all I know is that being sad wasn’t gonna help the situation at all so all I could really do is laugh as the cameras fired away at me.
Photo by Guy Rhodes


Guy Rhodes photo


After picking up all the pieces I sat them on the wall so all my buddies could see.


While I was able to find most of the camera the one thing that was missing was the compact flash card that had been in the remote. I knew that even if the camera had fired with the car coming at it that it would be way out of focus since the remote had been focused on the finish line. Even knowing that I still really wanted the card back so I could at least know what the camera had seen in its final moments.

I spent a lot of time searching for the card alongside the track as well as on the track following the day. Even the track owner (Blake Bowser) and an NHRA official (Don Irvin) spent some of their valuable time searching as well. Thanks guys.


Guy Rhodes and I found out that with the big piece remaining of the 400mm that you could quickly light fires by aiming the sun through it….
Guy Rhodes photo


….or you could make yourself look like a cyclops…..
Guy Rhodes photo


The day ended with nobody finding the flash card and that sucked. Suffice to say I got rather inebriated that night!

The next day while driving out to the track I got a text from my friend Dave Kommel letting me know the flash card had been found and was still intact!

Below is the photo from the camera. Yea its far from the coolest remote shot but I think it still tells the story of the imminent Nikon destruction about to occur.




The carnage. Thanks again to Mark for allowing me to share this....


More at Mark Rebellas Blog


Guy Rhodes Blog


Guy Rhodes up high





It was a banner weekend for the piston manufacturers....















Funny Car Preview


Pruett-LeDuc began the year with a win at the March Meet (also at Auto Club Famoso Raceway) and came into the weekend with a 47-point lead in Nostalgia Funny Car over Tim Boychuk. Pruett-LeDuc broke on her burnout in her first qualifying attempt and had to rely on her second and final qualifying pass with 36 Funny Cars vying for a spot in the 16-car field. She clocked in at 5.88, 236.84, good for the 11th spot right behind Boychuk in 10th.

Pruett-LeDuc then beat Dwayne Patton in round one and Mike Halstead in round two with a 5.89, 237.78 to lock up the Nostalgia Funny Car championship. She then outran Claude Lavoie with an even quicker 5.82, 241.41 and will face Mark Hentges in the final in Pomona. Boychuk fell in round two to Lavoie.


Pruett-LeDuc and Lavoie heat their tires for their semi fianal.



Pruett-LeDuc was out first and never looked back. She snatched up a win and the championship with this semi-final win running a 5.823 at 241.41 against Claude Lavoie’s game 6.036 at 202.33.






The other semi final pair featured Mark Hentges in Bucky Austin's 78 Ply Arrow and Steven Densham in his Dad's 69 Camaro.



Densham left first and looked like he would be going to the finals.




But at the other end Hentges drove around a wounded Densham with a 6.092 at 218.65. Densham slowed to a 6.16 at just 171.13.





Oil downs aside, Funny Cars had a very safe outing with only one noteable incident, a fire that was reluctant to go out, in the Red Dragon Cuda of Dave Benjaman.













There will be photos of some of the other cars in that competed throughout the weekend.


Jack Harris in Flathead Jack's 180 mph dual fuel flatties dragster.



The last car down the track for the weekend Greg Leahy in the new Roly Leahy tribue car that was going to the NHRA Museum after the event. That trip will be delayed for some major repiar work after he crossed the track and whacked the guardwall.









Of couse any CHRR is full of special recognitions and tributes. With the passing of the legendary Joaquin Arnett just weeks ago, the entire Bean Bandit clan came to honor one of the true pioneers of drag racing.






And there will be tons of people pics from the track and other events like the Friday night Honorees get together.


Bob Muravez, Mousie Marcellis, Chris Karamesines and Tom Ivo


Jungle Pam Hardy and TV Tom


Kent Fuller, Roland Leong, Don Prudhomme and Evelyn Fuller


Monique Valadez, Manager of Education and Public Relations for the NHRA Museum, Rose Pohorely better known as Rosebud of the Museum, Linda Vaughan and Graciela Sanchez of NHRA.


Dave "Big Mac" McClelland received a surprise (and well deserved) Wally from Steve Gibbs for his years of service to NHRA in particular and drag racing in general.


Bill Bagshaw had his own special fan.


Throughout the awards auctions were held including this garden variety welders mask. The rib was it was signed by Don Long, Woody Gilmore, Kent Fuller and Tom Hanna. Now the shocker... it sold for $5500.00!


Boyd and the Mouse


Steinegger and Eshenbaugh


Tom Hanna, Grand Marshall



The post Honorees show was a mini cacklefest in the hotel parking lot which included the Greek in Ron Johnson's ChiZler V, Tom Hanna in his newly repainted masterpiece and Pete Eastwood's Old Master.






At the track on Saturday the Standard 1320 Group had their annual CHRR group photos.


On Thursday night Monique Valadez along with NAPA put on a funny car preview at the local Hooters.





And of course, you can look forward to the most extensive Cacklefest coverage anywhere on Cackefest.com













With over 5000 photos to review, choose for publication and ready for the Web you can look for complete CHRR coverage on both WDIFL.com and Cacklefest.com in a couple of weeks (hopefully) and as always, it will be HUGE and well worth the wait. Check back for release dates.








BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Sept. 1, 2010) – The dates have been announced for the 53rd running of nostalgia drag racing’s premier event, the 2011 March Meet. The three-day event will take place March 18-20, 2011 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, just outside Bakersfield, Calif.

"Traditionally, the March Meet is held the first week of March", said Blake Bowser, vice president and general manager of the Kern County Racing Association, operators of Auto Club Famoso and producers of the fabled March Meet.

“We decided to hold the March Meet later in the month for a few reasons,” Bowser explained. “The first and second weekend of March may be too close to the NHRA Winternationals. Traditionally the Winternationals is held in early February. In 2011 the Winternationals will be held the last weekend of February. A lot of our local race fans want to attend both, but it gets difficult for them when they are held only a few weeks apart. Also, thanks to the NHRA, we use the Winternationals as a promotional springboard to help kick-off the March Meet. The extra few weeks give us more time to get the word out.”

Bowser also said that many NHRA racers such as Robert Hight, Ron Capps, Gary Densham, Cruz Pedregon and Jack Beckman enjoy competing in and/or attending the March Meet every year. “The fans love it too when the NHRA stars attend. The way the 2011 NHRA schedule falls, there’s no NHRA race the third week in March, so there’s no conflict. Everyone wins.”

Weather is also a factor in the move, Bowser said. “Typically, as the month of March goes on, we see warmer weather, which can only help. It will make for better racing conditions. Plus, Daylight Savings will have already taken place. This will give us an extra hour of sunlight which will let us run a bit later under good conditions.”

Lastly, Bowser said the move to later in the month has some luck involved: luck of the Irish. “The Thursday before the March Meet is usually when we have our kick-off party,” he said. “In 2011, the Thursday before the March Meet is St Patrick's Day (Mar. 17). How fun can that be?”

March Meet ticket sales and prices, as well as other race information, including downloadable forms for race entries, car show registration and camping will be posted soon at Famoso Raceway

Now celebrating 53 years of racing, the March Meet is a three-day speedfest that enthusiasts call ‘the jewel of Nostalgia Racing.’ It attracts drag racers and spectators from around the world and also includes a hot rod car show, swap meet and a vendors’ midway. The 2011 March Meet will be held Mar. 18-20 at historic Auto Club Famoso Raceway

The Kern County Racing Association operates Auto Club Famoso Raceway (just north of Bakersfield, Calif.) and promotes a full schedule of races year round, including the world famous March Meet, which is recognized as the Mecca of nostalgia drag racing. For more details, visit  Famoso Raceway


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