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The latest update as of October 15, 2010
"LIVE from Bakersfield - 9:00 AM"
Not much to report yet, other than we made it down here last night and so far everything has gone smoothly. Driving up from Los Angeles in the Grand Marquis land yacht (aka: S.S. Speedzone) was quite a ride - twelve or sixteen lanes of traffic - bumper to bumper at 8 o'clock at night. A sea of tail lights stretching to the horizon. It still only took two hours to get up here to Bakersfield and enter a sort of twilight zone of culture and drag racing. It's going to be quite a weekend and I can hardly wait to get started. So I'm signing off and heading for the track right now.
Coming down on the plane from Vancouver I met Don MacGowan (publisher of Alberta's "Quick Times" magazine) and he warned me that internet access from the track might be difficult. No, I don't have one of those "stick" thingies (thanks for asking, Dean) but we'll find a way to get things done this weekend, even if it involves hijacking the Drag Race Central connection.
More news as soon as we establish an internet connection at the track.... or get bailed out of jail for disturbing the peace at Famoso Raceway. Stay tuned!
"(still) LIVE from Bakersfield - 12:00 PM"
A few minutes into a two hour stroll through the Manufacturers Midway, The Grove, and the pits, it became obvious that this event is far bigger than the Smokers Car Club ever envisioned when they put together the very first March Meet in the winter of 1959. A little more than 50 years later, it's grown into the two biggest nostalgia events on the racing calendar. But it's far more than just another drag race; it truly is a reunion with a virtual army of old racers and old fans and just plain old folks hanging out, trading lies and having a great time living in the past for one or two weekends a year.
Without a pre-entry list or even a list of the classes and field sizes, I'm going to be guessing at what I'm watching until the tower comes through with the promised results and qualifying sheets. Then I can put things together, decide who's in, who's out and what to concentrate on. The "big" cars won't be out until 1:00 pm, when the temperature should be nearing triple digits and the track will be somewhere north of the hot side of the sun. Should be a test for the racers and the poor byte-stained wretches of the electronic media, photographers especially.
The facilities here are not far removed from their humble beginnings half a century ago, with the old wooden grandstands stretching all the way to the finish line - but only ten or fifteen rows high. The guardwalls are current, but the timing tower is strictly out of the history books, inside and out. But it all works, and everyone is more than happy with the creature "comforts" (or, in some cases, the lack of them). One note: the concession stands are numerous, varied, and look to be serving some truly tasty food to the hungry masses.
I've just been handed the first qualifying session results from A/Gas and Nostalgia Eliminator 1, both for cars running on a 7.60 index. The car counts in both classes are very healthy, with 21 in A/G and 29 in NE-1, with a very definite slant in favour of California cars. The golden state contingent comprised 42 of the 50 cars. No Canucks on either list, but I've seen a few in the pits, along with some Aussie content. It's much more than just another national event, virtually a Woodstock of drag racing in some respects.
Time to close this off and see if the wireless connection they've promised me is going to work to upload this update. Then I've got to see if I can work out why I can't download pictures from my camera to the laptop. The old card reader might not be able to read the new high capacity, high speed card in the new camera. Did I mention that yet? Today was the first time I actually used it and I'm still wondering whether I'm getting anything or not. We'll see soon, I guess.
To see previous updates go to the What's Old page