The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

2017 Bakersfield Hot Rod reunion – We do it for the love of the sport


Mark La Ciura

Chevy Vega owned by Reyes Verdugo.

I have been around the sport of drag racing all my life and that is the reason why am a photographer. I got to see some of the cars I saw in the late 1970s at Famaso Raceway in Bakersfield on Oct. 20-22 at the 26th Annual Hot Rod Reunion. This sport gets in the blood for most car buffs and it sure did for me. A fantastic Little Vega owned by Reyes Verdugo of Tehachapi is a perfect example of the late 1970s and early 80s cars that a lot of us grew up with and loved to own, drive and race.

The cars at the reunion ranged from mild to wild and everything in between; from the door slammer's that are driven on the street to the full blown funny cars and dragsters that run on Nitro and go over 260 mph. Most of the teams out there were family based and driven; worked on by family and friends that have this fever for the drag strip and racing. When one team needs help or a part, everyone helps out. I have seen this many times and said, "We do it for the love of the Sport." There is no money to be made here with the super high cost to run the cars. The teams do get some help from sponsors for parts and fuel as well as tech help to run the cars as safely as possible. Safety is number one out there with all cars being tech inspected before they run through the ¼ mile (1320 feet). I grew up around a local So Cal track called Orange County International Raceway, where I got the fever and love for the sport. When you walk around the pit area, it's easy to run into people you knew as a kid or remember around the track.

Mark La Ciura

The complete event is fun for the whole family with displays and fun things for the kids to do. A demo starters "Christmas Tree", like the one they use to start the cars down the ¼ mile, allows kids and everyone else to understand the starting system and try their hand at operating the Tree. Famoso Drags have been around since the 50s when our vets coming home from active service souped up their hot rods and ran them down the ¼ mile. Now as then, kids of all ages need a place to race their cars safely and the safety people at Famoso are there to help everyone who has the racing fever.

When you're at Famoso you will hear names like Garlits, Muldowney and "Don-the-snake" Prudhomme. If you don't know these names, you will find out that they are the icons of the sport and you may actually bump into these great racers there. It's just fantastic to see these people. I highly recommend next year's Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, even if you are not a car-buff. After going you may catch the fever, like me and so many others.


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