BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Mar. 3, 2009) – It’s March Meet time and that means one thing: “Let’s race.” The world famous 51-year-old drag race, now the season opener of the NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Series, continues its historic run, Mar. 6-8 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Five hundred cars from around the globe, the country, the state and Kern County, are set to compete in 14 classes during the 3-day festival of speed.
“For fans and racers, the March Meet is the race,” said Blake Bowser, vice president and general manager of the Kern County Racing Association, operators of Auto Club Famoso Raceway and producers of the March Meet. “We have a full field and all the top racers in nostalgia drag racing will be here. It’s going to be a great show.”
The March Meet is such a draw, 2008 NHRA Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon is the Grand Marshal.
Competition is going to tough in all categories. The cream of the crop of vintage Top Fuel drag racers will be back, including Brad Thompson of Visalia, runner up in the ’08 March Meet. Thompson is returning to action for the first time since suffering season-ending in a crash the 2008 Boise Nationals. Thompson was leading the Hot Rod Heritage Series at the time of his crash. His competition at the March Meet includes ’08 Hot Rod Heritage champ Troy Green (Purcell, Okla.), four-time winner March Meet winner, Jim Murphy (Santa Rosa, Calif.); Rick White (San Diego), Adam Sorokin (Glendale, Calif.) and Brett Harris (Kaysville, Utah). Harris’ dad, “Sheriff” Jack Harris, won the ’08 March Meet but isn’t scheduled to race. All told, Top Fuel has a field of more than 20 entrees and also features local racers such as Fresno’s Denver Schutz and Exeter’s Rick McGee.
In Nostalgia Funny Car, defending March Meet and Hot Rod Heritage Series champ Bucky Austin (Fife, Wash.) is back. Austin will be going up against close to 30 drivers such as Canadian Terry Capp, driving Ron Hodgson’s “Bubble-up” Firebird Funny Car; Mark Sanders, driving his “Mr. Explosive” 1970 Chevy Nova, tuned by his 19-year old son Jake “the Snake” Sanders; and longtime nitro racer “Nasty” Dave Benjamin, who will debut his Plymouth Satellite bodied nitro Funny Car. Also, Dennis Taylor (Anaheim, Calif.) will take time off from racing his Alcohol Funny Car on the NHRA tour to drive Gary Messenger’s Future Flash Nostalgia Funny Car. Exciting Mendy Fry is driving “McCain’s Bomb Squad,” a 1973 Plymouth Duster that hails from Atascadero, Calif. During off-season testing Mendy piloted the vintage nitro funny car to a 6.036 elapsed time at 229.00 miles per hour with legendary Crew Chief Roland Leong, known as the Hawaiian.
While Top Fuel and Funny Car are the big draws, the lure of competing in any class at the March Meet brings racers from everywhere. A good example is Ray Martin, who is coming down from Alaska to race in the A/Gas class. “Racing in the March Meet in the Hot Rod Heritage Series is an experience of a lifetime,” said Martin. “I can’t wait to get to the starting line.”
“What a field of cars and competitors,” said Bowser. “All I can say is let’s race.”
Now celebrating 51 years of racing, the March Meet is a three-day affordable speedfest that enthusiasts call ‘the jewel of Nostalgia Racing.’ It attracts drag racers and spectators from around the world and also includes a hot rod car show, swap meet and a vendors’ midway. The 2009 March Meet is also the first race of the Hot Rod Heritage Series, the NHRA’s 8-race nostalgia racing series. The Grand Marshal this year is NHRA World Champion Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon.
Tickets: a Super 3-Day Pass for $75 can be purchased online now and can be picked up at the track the week of the event. There are no service charges for tickets purchased online at www.autoclubfamosoraceway.com. Individual day tickets for the event will go on sale Mar.2, but will be available only at the track. Ticket prices are $25 for Fri., Mar. 6; $30 for Sat., Mar. 7; and $30 for Sun., Mar. 8.
Auto Club members also receive a $2 discount off daily admission tickets by showing their cards when they purchase tickets at the track. Daily tickets for children ages 7 to 12 are $10 and kids 6 and under are free when accompanied by an adult with paid admission.
The Kern County Racing Association (KCRA) operates historic Auto Club Famoso Raceway (just north of Bakersfield, Calif.) and promotes a full schedule of races year round, including the world famous March Meet, Mar. 6-8, 2009, is the recognized Mecca of nostalgia drag racing. For more details, visit www.autoclubfamosoraceway.com.