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Richard’s Corner

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The March Meet will be Fifty!
at Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Mororsports Museum
Pomona, CA
Aug 29, ‘07
Story by Richard Parks and Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz

As usual, this time of year in Southern California has a hot spell that reaches 100+ degrees, but that didn’t stop hundreds of eager car cruisers and hot rodders. The Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Mororsports Museum is introducing a new exhibit the “Bakersfield March Meet, Celebrating 50 Years of Racing” presented by the Auto Club. The exhibit consists of pictures, descriptions, memories, and dragsters from those first 50 years and it will be here till August 2008.

  It’s always fun to go to the Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. The air-conditioned museum was filled with visitors and they were having a boisterous time. Some of those on hand included; Gary Beck, Dave McClelland, Tommy Ivo, Bob Muravez (Aka Floyd Lippincotte Jr), Captain Ed Ballinger, Al ‘Mousie’ Marcellus, Art Chrisman, Jim Partridge, Bobbie Colgrove, Jim Noteboom, Roland Leong, Mike Kuhl and Carl Olson. Rick Lalor was there representing the Auto Club of Southern California. Members of the Smokers included John & Blake Bowser, James Warren, Dan Lee, Kenny Loewen, Ralph Evenson and Tony Waters. The dragstrip is located just 20 miles north of Bakersfield, California off Route 99 and is famous for the Smokers Meet, and the US Fuel and Gas Championships, which is now called the March Meet.

  Ron Hope was visiting after returning from a match race where he ran the Rat Trap Fuel Altered drag car against the Nanook F/A car. It’s great to see these old cars still in action. There are 20 race dates for these nostalgia cars and they are going to Calgary, Canada, then on to Famoso, Las Vegas, Pomona and then end back east. Joining them will be Randy Bradford’s Fiat, Mike Hilsabeck’s Arizona Rattler, Dave Benjamin’s Nasty Benjamin and Brett Hankins Blue Laser. So popular are these cars that they had to turn down bookings. “We had 16 fuel altered cars at the Midwest Fuel Meet in Eddyville, Iowa on August 15, four of the cars being on nitro,” said Hope. “I’ll be at Bonneville to race my roadster in October, in the C-Blown Modified Gas class,” he added. 

  Bob Muravez mentioned the fine book just finished by Tom Madigan, called Fuel and Guts. “It took him 30 years to write that book,” said Muravez. Cori Terrazas, ten years old and eager to race Jr dragsters, said, “I want a Jr dragster really bad,” she said. “It would be a dream come true. Please let John Bowser, my grandfather know.” She told me that John Force is her favorite drag racer and role model. Eddie Tafoya and his crew brought their Kings Taco Supertruck to display. Eddie is a rookie and is 3rd in the rookie standings at Irwindale Speedway and 9th overall. They set up a great looking display and the dragracers didn’t seem to mind having a NASCAR supertruck in their midst. The award for coming the farthest goes to Masako, Marina and Shota Yamashita, who were visiting from Fukuoka, Japan and they were having a great time. 

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected]


In front of the exhibit are (l-r) Blake Bowser, James Warren, Dan Lee, John Bowser, Tony Waters, Kenny Loewen (Famoso starter for 27 years), and Ralph Evenson


This new exhibit will be here till August 2008


– They competed at the first March Meet. (l-r) Tony Waters, Art Chrisman (the first Top Fuel winner), and “TV” Tommy Ivo.


The exhibit consists of pictures, descriptions, memories, and dragsters from those first 50 years and it will be here till August 2008.


Poster signing by (l-r) Toni Waters, Art Chrisman, and “TV” Tommy Ivo


Roland Leong “pens” his name to a “March Meet”poster.


Art Chrisman (l) and Mike Kuhl do a little “back in the day” stuff.


The drag cars and altereds take the featured spot in front of the Museum


The legendary Winged Express joins other featured altereds


Tommy Schiffilea brought his A/Gas Willys


This nasty ’36 Chevy Famoso Speed Shop A/Gasser owned by Randy Winkle of Bakersfield, CA. joined the featured race cars.


This is the 1959 March Meet Top Fuel Final between Tony Waters (far lane) and Art Chrisman (near lane) Art won that first March Meet.

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