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"I fell in!"   "The highlight for me was the unveiling of the recreated Blown Pontiac Fueler, "Shudderbug"."  " What an incredible show! Made all three days and Iím still a nitro-stinking, grinning fool."  "Without question, my "highlight" of the event was seeing Rance McDaniel receiving his NR AA/FD 5 Second  Club jacket." "My first year here, I forgot to eat the first day...and I don't miss too many meals!"  "If you didn't have a good time, you don't like drag racing!"  "It should be against the law to have so much FUN in three days."  "I told Bobby before the race we we're going to win this one for Rance."  "I have been to the mountain. I have seen the elephant and heard the wolf howl. I have trod the sacred asphalt of the Patch where the Nitro Gods live." 

Yes folks, those are just some of the testimonials on the events that happened during the 11th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion.  Very true, yet they don't even begin to scratch the surface on what transpired October 4-6.  If you were there, you know exactly of what these people speak.  If you weren't there or have never been to the "Patch", you must think we've all gone mad!  Not exactly, but we are mad about vintage drag racing and this event showcases the best of the best from years' past and the present.  For example...

Top Fuel was absolutely the toughest, most competitive field anyone had witnessed anytime, anywhere.  Period.  It took a 6.09 to make the cut in the "A" field, and a 6.19 to make the "B".  By comparison, last year's bump spot for the "A" field was a 6.20 held by Bill Dunlap, and the "B" field bump was a 6.409 held by Rick McGee.  Interestingly, Gerry Steiner grabbed the "A" field pole for the second year in row with a 5.99.  Incredible!  Rance McDaniel, with the help of many friends, made a surprise trip to the track Saturday to accept his Nitronic Research 5 Second Club jacket.  The SRO crowd was flat out emotionally charged and let their hero know just how much they appreciated him being there.  "Cacklefest"?  Nearly 50 cars, one by one, THUNDERED for 21 minutes and 46 seconds.  Anyone who is still hearing "Freight Train" sounds in their heads, knows this all too well.  The "Ring of Fire"?  We all "Fell in".  That was a terrific finale to Saturday's events.  Which leads us to Sunday, and I could just go on, and on, and on...

As I've mentioned in the past, if you have not been to a CHRR, you must make plans to attend next year.  (There will also be a National Hot Rod Reunion at Bowling Green, Kentucky...June/2003)  I don't want to hear any complaints down the road that YOU were sorry to have missed them.  The following photos and captions are just a portion of the "stories within stories" and what went on just one week ago.  Enjoy!  Dawn

Art Gustafson qualified his "Willy Fast" '41 Willys in the 6th spot of A/Gas with an 8.13.  Unfortunately that was as good as the weekend was going to get, as Gustafson met eventual class champ, Sean Renteria, in the opening round.
Don Enriquez returned to competition in Jr. Fuel and qualified in the ninth spot with a 7.429.  Enriquez met Wayne Ramay in the opening round, but his 7.43 was not enough to cover the winning 7.34 clocked by Ramay.

Steve Dickerman was unable to better the 7.37 bump spot in A/Fuel, as his 9.03 dumped him in the 20th spot outside of the program.  Gotta love the guy anyhow for wearing the PC head gear!
Dale Carlson drove the Swann Bros. (George and Rob) AA/FD to a best of  7.186 time slip.  The Olympia, WA.-based team ended up 24th out of the 27 cars.

Steve Woods clocked a 6.886/201.56 during qualifying to grab top speed, low e.t., and the number one spot in AA/GS.  Woods was upset in round one by Carl Harry, as Woods' "Hypocrite" Anglia slipped out of the groove and sashayed down the track to a losing 8.19 to Harry's 8.13.  As a side note, Woods has put his Anglia up for sale, which he has owned for over 40 years!  Any takers?
"Wild Bill" Alexander drove the John & Linda Eirich-owned "Ground Zero" entry to a 6.152 during qualifying, which held for the fifth spot of the "B" field.  Despite stepping up to a 6.10 in round round, opponent Bill Dunlap trumped Alexander with a winning 5.92!  The quickest "B" field pass of the weekend.  Unbelievable!

Larry Ofria returned to A/Gas competition with his cherry '57 Chevy ride.  Ofria qualified in the fourth spot with a 7.798, but was unable to make the first round call.
Terry Caldwell qualified his Hemet, California-based digger in the fifth spot of Nostalgia Eliminator with a 7.634.  Caldwell went on to win the event with excellent reaction times and consistent 7.70 time slips.

Randy Bradford was one of many who took advantage of the exhibition time slots allotted between qualifying rounds and during eliminations.  In true AA/FA fashion, Bradford thrilled fans with a superior driving job when his Fiat became wildly out of shape during his second pass of the weekend.  Bradford kept the gorgeous Fiat off the guardrails and rubber side down.
Upset-minded A/Fuel competitor, Russ Conroy, came out of the number two alternate slot on Sunday and defeated the likes of Tom Taros, Mark Mittel and Jack Beckman, respectively, before losing to Jeff "Surfer" Diehl in the final round.  It wasn't for the lack of trying though, as Conroy slapped a .470 holeshot to Diehl's  .552, but Diehl's 6.641 overcame Conroy's 6.753.

Mark Mittel qualified 12th in the A/Fuel field with a 7.22.  Mittel defeated first alternate, Bill Genco, (who replaced Jim Paul) in the opening round, but lost in round two to eventual runner-up, Russ Conroy.
Top Fuel "A' runner-up Glenn Hutchison had the weekend of his short career, as he earned a personal best time slip in Pete Jensen's "Foothill Flyer" with a 6.010/235.10 during qualifying, which held for the third spot of the "A" field.  Hutchison then stepped up to the plate in round one, as he used a hole-shot aided 6.03, to dispose of Lee Jennings' quicker 6.02.  Hutchison advanced to the final on a solo semi-final pass and despite another  killer light in the final against Jack Harris (.436 to a .530), lost with a 6.27 to Harris' 6.12.

Tim Burns qualified his Willys in the fourth spot of the AA/GS field with a fine 7.101, his best position to date.  Burns met Ronnie Nunes in round one, losing the battle with a shut-off 12.88 to Nunes' 6.97.
For the second year in a row, Gerry Steiner claimed the number one qualifying spot of Top Fuel with a 5.99 during the first qualifying session.  As if repeating that feat wasn't enough, Steiner duplicated his round one exiting act. (Last year he crossed the centerline against a red-lighting Jason Howell)  Opponent Jim Murphy cut a .551 light to Steiner's .595, and used a 6.026 to defeat Steiner's quicker 5.985

Randy Walls brought out his "Super Nova" funny car to re-license after a 31 year absence from the driver's seat.  Walls scored a handful of low seven second runs during the course of the event, and should have left the "Patch" with a license full of legendary "sign-off" signatures.
Larry Dixon Sr. was one of 33 entrants competing for the 16 car field of Nostalgia Eliminator.  Dixon recorded a 7.93 during qualifying, but that was two tenths away from the 7.73 bump spot held by Bob Murphy.

Brent Harris made the long tow down from Edmonton, Alberta, with his '33 Willys  to qualify for the always tough A/Gas field.  Harris' first run of 7.552 was too quick against the 7.60 index, and then followed that with an "all over the track"  8.77 during the second qualifying session.  Harris made the show as an alternate but lost to eventual runner-up, Jim Pace.  Pace used a 7.20 to dispose of Harris' game 7.92.
The "Sheriff".  The "Utah Posse".  Call 'em what you want, but the "Nitro Thunder" team, led by Jack Harris,  went into the event with one thing on their take no prisoners and win it all...all for Rance.  The "Posse" did just that, taking out tough competitors like Rick McGee, Rich Howell and Glenn Hutchison, respectively, while setting low e.t. and top speed of the event with a 5.88/250.62.  The exclamation point to their quest was made by the donation of their winnings to the Rance McDaniel recovery fund.  You guys ROCK!!!

Phil Lukens launches his ever-nostalgic "Blair's Speed Shop" '48 Fiat into the 13th spot of Nostalgia Eliminator with a 7.697.  Lukens' weekend came to an end in round one, as eventual event winner, Terry Caldwell, used a 7.74 to dispose of Lukens' off-pace 8.21.
Jr. Fuel runner-up, Kelly Craig, qualified in the fifth spot of the Jr. Fuel field with a nice 7.355.  Craig earned her way to the final by upsetting the likes of Bud Hammer, Wayne Ramay and Scott Parks. Craig stunned the class with an opening round 7.119 (which held as low e.t. until the final), and followed that up with a 7.20 and 7.15 respectively.  Craig's day came to an end the same way she ended Hammer's, as Dean Carter used a 7.114 to defeat Craig's ever-so-close 7.123!

Howard Anderson qualified his '38 Chevy in the third spot of the AA/GS field with a 7.054.  Anderson defeated Chris Abbey and Carl Harry, respectively, before losing a close final to Ronnie Nunes.  Despite running a quicker 7.079 to Nunes' 7.092, Nunes' .473 light to Anderson's .533 was the margin of victory on the top end.
Shep Ginzburg was among the 27 entries trying to make the cut in the Top Fuel field.  Despite running a personal best 6.335, "Ginz" ended up in the 21st spot of the history making field.  

Don Dicero drove his gorgeous "Dago Express II" altered to a 7.56 during qualifying in Nostalgia Eliminator, but that was a tad too quick for the 7.60 indexed field.  
Mike Lockman scored a personal best 6.341 during qualifying for Top Fuel, but that number was only good enough for sixth alternate.  Amazing!

Bob Clayton ran a best of 9.373 during A/Gas qualifying, but that number fell short of the 8.71 bump spot.  Clayton, along with many of the "doorslammer" competitors, found the Famoso surface to be resistant to aggressive tune-ups.
Sal Valencia marched to an 8.138 time during the first qualifying session of Nostalgia Eliminator, which placed him 26th out of the 33 car entries.

While most of the "chicks & slicks" were having fun in Jr. Fuel, Nostalgia Eliminator competitor Dorothy "Dee" Morris was experiencing some of her own in this icy-cool flamed Bantam.  Morris ran a best of 8.88, but that left her in the 30th slot of the always tough show.
Denver Schutz rocketed to the sky during the first qualifying session of Top Fuel.  Schutz did a fine job of bringing the car back to earth, ultimately securing the sixth spot in the "B" field during the second session with a 6.17.  Schutz parlayed that effort into runner-up status, while running a best of 6.03 for the weekend in round one.

Carl Harry qualified his '41 Willys in the fifth spot the AA/GS field with a 7.12.  Harry upset low qualifier Woods in the opening round, before losing to Howard Anderson in round two.
Rick McGee, the newest and youngest member of the Nitronic Research AA/FD 5 Second Club , qualified the Tedford-McGee-Hester "Razmataz" entry in the sixth spot of the "A' field with a great 6.06.  Not-so-great for the team was meeting Jack Harris in round one.  Harris used a 5.92 to defeat McGee's 6.23.

Nathan Bugg took the opportunity to make some exhibition runs in his "Lil" Nate Dodge funny car.  
Bob Muravez, who won the Top Fuel "B" field in 2001, was unable to repeat that performance this year.  Muravez recorded a best of 6.315 which left him in the fourth alternate spot.

Sean Renteria drove his ultra clean '65 Plymouth to the winner's circle, by defeating the likes of Art Gustafson, Jim Data and Jim Pace, respectively.  The final against Pace was a doozy, as Renteria used a .486/7.609 package to push out Pace's .531/7.599!  
Stacy Paul launches to a 7.375, which enabled her to earn the sixth spot of the Jr. Fuel ladder.  Paul advanced to the second round, but was defeated by eventual event winner, Dean Carter.  Carter's stout 7.14 was too much for Paul's 7.35.

Rich Roberts drove his '34 Willys to a best of 7.125 during qualifying for AA/GS, which put him sixth on the list.  Roberts upset number two qualifier, Gary Reinero, in round with a 7.10 to Reinero's off-pace 7.67.  Roberts' day came to end in round two when he bulbed against eventual winner, Ronnie Nunes.
Gil Valencia (Sal's brother?) made the the tough Nostalgia Eliminator show in the eighth spot with a 7.66.  Mechanical problems prevented Valencia from advancing past round one.

Bill Dunlap not only won the "B" field show, but set low e.t. for the class with a 5.92 during his first round whooping of "Wild Bill" Alexander.
Greg Uffens shoed Brian Van Dyke's gorgeous "Flying Dutchman" digger to a 7.13 qualifying ticket, which held for the ninth spot of the A/Fuel field.  Uffens upset number one qualifier, Bill Wayne, in the opening round, before falling to eventual winner, Jeff Diehl, in round two.

Nothing whips a SRO crowd  into a cheering frenzy more than a blown doorslammer during a stellar burnout. A/Gas runner-up Jim Pace literally abused this notion, as he brought the house down every time he graced the track in his Jelly Belly sponsored Anglia.  If not for the interior full of smoke, I'm sure he'd take 'em farther than the standard 300'+. 
Ronnie Lennon collected the pole position in Nostalgia Eliminator with an "out of the box" 7.608.  Lennon defeated Mike Cross in round one, bet met eventual winner, Terry Caldwell in round two.

Dan Horan Jr. entered the second session of Top Fuel qualifying on the 17th rung of the ladder with a 6.366.  Despite running a better 6.22 during the second session, (which at one point was good for the second spot of the "B" field) Horan was bumped right back out of the field and into the 17th spot again.  Incredible!
Troy Green made the long trip west from Purcell, OK, and qualified with a great 6.12,  which held for the third spot in the "B" field.  Green upset a quicker Lee Jennings in round one, using a .413/6.189 against Jennings' .623/6.123.  Green met Dunlap in round two and despite another holeshot advantage (.497 to a .601) clicked it off early as Dunlap made up the difference by the 1/8th mile mark and recorded a 6.10 win light.

If "Winged Express" shoe, Mike Boyd, looks all too comfortable driving through one of his lengthy burnouts, it's because he is.  Boyd, who turned 45 years young Saturday of the event, also turned in a "cool as a cucumber" 7.37  before Sunday's final rounds.
"Fugowie Howie" Haight drove Butch Blair's "Fugowie" entry to a best of 6.24 flat.  However, we all know by now that to at least make the "B" field, one needed a 6.207 or better to make the cut!  Ouch!

Jim Paul had already run a 6.78 to qualify fourth for the A/Fuel field.  During this second session qualifying effort, it's rumored that someone forgot to pin the wheelie bar promoting a most dramatic wheelstand, pirouette and rollover,  resulting with a twisted pile of front end tubing.   Paul has already stated he will make the Goodguys Fuel & Gas Finals (in three weeks), as chassis guru Dave Uyehara is handling the necessary repairs.  

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