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53rd annual "March Meet" - 3/11

53rd annual "March Meet" - 3/11
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53rd annual "March Meet"
Auto Club Famoso Raceway
Bakersfield, California
March 18-20, ‘11
Story and Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz

The 2 main topics at the 53rd Annual March Meet were, the new all concrete track and the weather.  The new concrete track performed very well.  Many of the contestants in the Index classes went to fast in their first qualifying round.  The weather on Friday was a comfortable 70 degrees, Saturday began nice but as the afternoon went on it got colder.  The cooler temperature was great for horsepower but in the early evening the track got to cold.  After the first elimination round for Top Fuel and Funny Cars, the racing was halted.  Sunday the racing was rescheduled after high winds and rain shut down the event.

It took an extra six days, but it was well worth the wait for nostalgia drag racing fans as the March Meet completed its 53rd run on Saturday 3-26-11.  Funny Car winner was Kris Krabill, from Orange, CA., in Gary Turner’s “The Pedaler,” a 1978 Plymouth Arrow, beat No. 1 qualifier Jason Rupert from Yorba Linda, CA, who was driving the Mert Littlefield ’69 Mustang tribute car. Krabill was a classic “holeshot” winner over Rupert, getting off the line faster and to the finish line first, despite a slower time. Krabill ran the quarter mile in 5.90 at 242.41 mph. to Rupert’s 5.82 at 250.78 mph.  In Nostalgia Top Fuel, White, the No. 1 qualifier from San Diego, CA., finally shed his March Meet bridesmaid status and got a bit of revenge by beating the tough Brett Harris, from Kaysville, UT. White ran a 5.70 at 249.21 mph to Harris’ 5.78 at 251.34 and claimed his first March Meet win.

 

The new all-concrete track performed very well.  Many of the contestants in the Index classes went to fast in their first qualifying round.

Drag racing royalty Shirley “Cha-Cha” Muldowney, was serving as this year’s Grand Marshal.  She made three straight March Meet Top Fuel finals (1980-82), winning it all 1981. “It was the top win in and around the NHRA national events,” she said. “If you won Bakersfield, you were competitive to go and run the other big races”

“Mousie” Marcellus (L) was on-hand with the famous “Winged Express”.

“The Mongoose” Tom McEwen was signing autographs.

Mooneyes own “Chico” was there with his portable store.

Last years Top Fuel Champion Adam Sorokin.

Legendary Crew Chief Austin Coil (flowered shirt) discuses “things” with NHRA  Funny Car driver Gary Densham (black shirt on the right).

“Hands-on” Famoso Raceway operator Blake Bowser (L) with Fontana Dragway manager Mark Dawson.

NHRA Funny Car Champion Robert Hight (L) talks with drag racing legend Roland Leong.

Over 350 race cars competed in 10 classes

Funny Car winner Kris Krabill, from Orange, CA., in Gary Turner’s“The Pedaler,” a 1978 Plymouth Arrow.

Funny Car runner-up was #1 qualifier Jason Rupert from Yorba Linda, CA, who was driving the Mert Littlefield ’69 Mustang tribute car.

Top Fuel winner, Rick White, was also the #1 qualifier from San Diego, CA.

Top Fuel runner-up was Brett Harris, from Kaysville, UT.

Behind the grandstands is the “Grove”.  It stretches the length of the quarter mile track and that is where 100’s of “Show & Shine” cars park.

In the “Grove”, at the end of the grandstands are usually some very unique hot rods.

The great Swap Meet is always interesting

Many vendors were showing their wares.

The Rick Magee pit is rushing to fix a “hurt” motor before the next qualifying round.

With only minor work to do on the small block, the Champion Speed Shop crew puts Larry Gotelli’s, very sharp, “canopied”, Top Fueler back together.

NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps grabs a bite to eat as his ride is readied for the next qualifying round.

The “Gasser Alley” garages.