Historic Bakersfield March Meet 2024
February 3, 2024
If you like motor sports, you live in the right place. Kern County is a motor-sports mecca with all the fantastic venues to watch racing. If you are a road racer, circle-track driver or like racing on a dirt, oval or straight line, you have lots of choices here.
I have been around race tracks and airports most of my life as a photographer. My mom always said, "hanging around those race cars keeps you out of trouble. And those folks must have a great work ethic and have done well in life to have the money to race those cars. Yes, you can learn a lot from them."
My Italian mother was always right on all accounts. My brother and I cut our teeth doing drag race photography. I learned so much from my brother taking pictures, while staying safe and alive around cars that don't always go straight down the drag strip – especially in the early days of the sport.
Famoso drag strip in Kern County holds a lot of history for me. This track has held the Bakersfield March Meet since 1959 under the sanctioning of the Smokers Car Club. They were called this because the early dragsters would smoke the tires all the way down the 1,320 foot drag strip. The drag slicks of the time period could not get good traction. The event became known as the Bakersfield March Meet when the Smokers sold the rights to the name to the U.S. Fuel & Gas Championships.
The strip was originally built in WWII as a pilot training base for Army Air Corps. These Bakersfield Smokers were pioneers in the sport of drag racing. They had the vision to convert the Army Air Corps training base after the war to allow for drag racing.
Most of these pioneer drag racers were military service people from WWII using some of the skills learned in the war. These pioneers used parts from WWII military aviation to make their dragsters go faster and safer.
The safety process continues today with high tech fire suits, helmets and many upgrades to the race cars. For example, when a motor explosion occurs, the fuel systems now shut down. The cars also have an dipper like cover under the motor to collect the oil and fuel so it does not get on the rear tires. This helps keep control of the car to safely stop. There is also a fire suppression system to put out any fire from these motor explosions.
This year's highly anticipated Bakersfield March Meet is on March 1 - 3. We will have a local Tehachapi driver, Larry Warne, who is a former track event winner. Also a friend of mine, Eily Stafford (short for Eileen), a veteran drag racer from San Diego, California is racing at the meet, as well. Last year, Eily won the Bakersfield March Meet in Nitro Pro Competition. She is a great role model for kids, and all of us, with her positive attitude. She is an all around super good person and super fan friendly. The sport of drag racing needs more people like Eily Stafford.
I will be looking forward to watching both of these drivers, and many more, at the Historic Bakersfield March Meet 2024.