Event>>the 2011 California Hot Rod Reunion Pt.1

I’ve spent a lot of time this month shooting Hot Rods, customs, and drag cars. First it was the Motorama in Long Beach, then the drags up at Eagle Field. After a break last weekend at the Rennsport Reunion it was back to the dragstrip once more. This time the setting was Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield for the annual NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion.

I’ve been shooting the Hot Rod Reunion for a few years now, and every time I go I’m overwhelmed by the turnout. Hundreds of race cars from all over the Western United States come to Famoso for three full days of drag racing.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a larger gathering of vintage drag machinery anywhere in the world. Beautiful warm fall weather made things even better this year.

From the body shaking scream of the engines to the aroma of nitro, the Hot Rod Reunion is one of those events that overwhelms the senses. Don’t forget your ear plugs.

Everyone that comes to the Hot Rod Reunion has their favorite type of race car. Many come for the vintage rail dragsters…

….others come for the massive gathering of Funny Cars.

For me though, it doesn’t get any better than the A/FX class. They certainly aren’t the fastest cars at the CHRR…

…but the drama and excitement in their runs more than makes up for it. There was some serious wheelstanding in this crowd.

This year I spent as much time wandering the pits as I did capturing the action on the strip.

Not every car at the Hot Rod Reunion is quarter mile hustler. This well known Chevy sled made an appearance in the car show behind the grandstands.

How’s this for patina?

The swap meet at the Hot Rod Reunion is always a must-see.

Unlike your typical swap meet, this one is packed with rare vintage racing parts. From dragster wheels…

…to a complete motor setups, blowers and all.

There’s always cool project cars up for grabs too. Anyone looking for an old Chevy wagon?

Absolutely love the look of this Rod. Nose up with mags in the front and steelies in the rear.

A perfect vintage look for this Willys.

And for comparison’s sake a Willys race car done in a more modern style. Obviously this one’s much faster, but to me you can’t beat the old school look.

The “Fighting Irish”, an AA/Fuel dragster capable of mid six second ETs in its day.

The Road Kings ’55 Chevy Wagon looks more like a push vehicle than a race car, but it was moving down the strip quite well.

Another cool retro dragster comes out of the whole, narrow tires grabbing for traction.

A Cobra Jet Mustang puts its fat rubber to use coming off the line. What a wicked looking car!

I’m going to finish up part one here, but there’s lots more on the way from the California Hot Rod Reunion this week.

-Mike Garrett

2010 Hot Rod Reunion Coverage

More Drag Racing Stories on Speedhunters



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I wish there was a culture like this in Australia, there is to some degree but its nowhere near as large and its so freakin expensive to get classic cars in good nick!

A good $10k US classic would go for triple that in Australia :(


Desktop of that '64 Plymouth with its wheels in the air, PLEASE!!!!!!!


Photos look great Mike. Looks like a really cool event. Thanks for sharing!


It's time for more nitro, more wheel stands, more burnouts, and more of everything that's great about nostalgia drag racing. Here's the second part of my coverage from the 2011 California Hot Rod Reunion.


70s funny cars are the coolest drag machines ever from my stand point. more of those pleeeez.

oh btw, Gambino's sled looks friggin 100 times more awesome with the clear coat on.


You guys seemed to enjoy my Wheelhunting post from the Rennsport Reunion, so last weekend during my visit to Famoso Raceway for the California Hot Rod Reunion I figured I should do the same.


just got back from the reunion, you guys just gotta save up and go!!! 3 years ago at the March Meet there was about 12 cacklefest cars, 2 years ago there was about 110 cars . This year was huge, well over 100 cacklefest cars, add the swap ( far more hard core than Pomona swap), the rods, the pits, the old racers...... you get the picture.


Hello and Thanks for sharing. I own the Cobra Jet Mustang that you have pictured on thew sight. I brought it back from FL to race at the track it raced at 42 years ago at the March, Fuel , Gas Championship 1969. I have a great storie to tell about this car and have no pictures as I was driving the car and would like to purchase photo's of the car at the track. 352-650-1982

Thanks David


Mike ,great pictures as always.How about a spotlight or feature on the white 68 Cobra Jet mustang.