Victory and variety are two words that emerged for the Chevrolet brand faithful drag racing fans that attended the 25th Anniversary California Hot Rod Reunion on October 21-23, 2016. This marquee and very special event celebration, which marked the conclusion of NHRA’s 2016 Hot Rod Heritage Drag Racing Series, was held directly within the orange groves just north of Bakersfield, California, at fabled Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
Chevrolet proponent drag racers certainly showed their hands during the exciting and well-attended event, while scoring numerous event titles in Chevy-powered and Chevy-configuration machines.
The California Hot Rod Reunion was showcased by a record setting nitro Nostalgia Funny Car program, which highlighted the event’s activities.
Thirty-two nitro Nostalgia Funny Cars were vying for the 16 spots in the elite field. Jason Rupert, of Yorba Linda, California, driving the Littlefield & Rupert U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds-themed 1969 Camaro-bodied Funny Car posted the lowest qualifying time of 5.605 seconds, which anchored a record-quick 16-car field. Rupert’s performance was no fluke as he clinched an IHRA World Championship title earlier this year. The field was so quick the bump spot was at an all-time low of 5.875.
From the pole, Rupert headed into the final round with victories over Rick Rogers, John Weaver, and James Day. In the final round, Rupert ran a 5.592-second at 250.32-mph lap to take the victory over recently crowned NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Champion Kris Krabill (from Washington). This was Rupert’s first win at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
The fastest car overall at the event was another 1969 Chevy Camaro—this one driven by Canadian Ryan Hodgson (who qualified Number Two with a 5.611 e.t.) and was credited with top speed of the event (including Top Fuel Dragsters) at 261.42 mph. Racing his Hodgson Motorsports/Pacemaker Camaro, based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Ryan, the defending 2015 California Hot Rod Reunion event champion, went on to a “final four” placing.
Chevy-bodied cars also earned trophies in the Pro Mod, A/Gas, and A/FX class categories.
Bret Williamson from Sacramento, California, was victorious in the Nostalgia Pro Mod category, beating 15 other cars in his supercharged 1963 Corvette. Williamson scored the win despite a very scary final round ride, which saw his machine get loose at the top end while racing Jay Diedrich’s Camaro in the all-Chevy final round.
The A/Gas title bout was also an all-Chevrolet battle with hometown Bakersfield racer Keith Morovich’s 1967 Nova topping Brendon Frye’s 1957 Chevy.
Bob Moreland, from Vista, California, rolled his 1967 Chevelle to the A/FX title by beating 25 other entries.
In the event’s added attraction—and arguably the favorite among the fans—the “Geezer Gasser” exhibition class, it was South Carolina’s Greg Porter winning with his vintage 1955 Chevy.
Check out this extensive event photo gallery from the 25th Anniversary California Hot Rod Reunion.