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29th annual CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION - October 22 - 24, 2021

NOTE: Click on the thumbnails to display the full-size images


This will be a work in progress for the next week, with photos, captions, results and commentary added as and when time permits. We start with the first day of our coverage, Thursday, where our correspondent, Bob Snyder, toured the pits to capture some of the images of the attendees.

THURSDAY

BIG dogie

Guarding the golf kart and the pit area behind it is the BIG dog.

Cory Lee - 'The Pedaler' - AA/FC --- Morey & Pettinato - 'Rat Posion' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Out of his part-time "Big Show" ride and back in Gary Turner's "Pedaler" is itinerant drag racer Cory Lee getting ready for another Nostalgia Funny Car weekend.

(RIGHT) All the way from South Carolina is the "Rat Poison" AA/Fuel Altered team of Morey & Pettinato, a modern day tribute to a famous team of the 60's and 70's.

Dan Horan Jr. - 'Infinity' - AA/FC --- Van Gundy, Clark & Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' 
- AA/FC

(LEFT) It's Dan Horan (Jr.) with the body from his "Infinity Plumbing" AA/FC sitting behind the trailer, getting ready to contend for another race win.

(RIGHT) One of the real veteran teams, the group of Dale Van Gundy, Keith Clark, and Geoff Monise are still campaigning the "Quarter Pounder" after nearly fifty years of blasting down drag strips on the West Coast.

'Cacklin' Critter' - AA/FC --- 'Cacklin' Critter' - AA/FC

Two shots of the "Cacklin' Critter" team getting their AA/FC ready for action.

Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - AA/FC --- Bob Snyder & Dave Kommel - 'Problem Child' pits

(LEFT) Just peeking out of the transporter as they begin the unloading process is the Washington state-based "Atomic Punk" AA/FC of Don Knoblauch.

(RIGHT) Making his version of a smile is our photographer, BIG Bob Snyder on the left, with veteran lensman (from almost the beginning of the sport) Dave Kommel hanging out at the "Problem Child" AA/Funny Car pits.

Ron Hope - 'Rat Trap' - AA/FA --- Randy Bradford - 'Bradford's Fiat' - AA/FA

(LEFT) It's the one... the only... "Rat Trap" AA/Fuel Altered, owned and driven by Ron Hope sitting in the pit area getting ready to run.

(RIGHT) Washington state's Randy Bradford campaigns the way-too-quick-for-that-short-narrow-car "Bradford's Fiat in the AA/Fuel Altered class. Unlike some of the other teams, it looks ready to head for the staging lanes.

Keith Jackson - 'High Heaven' - AA/FA --- 'Pure Hell' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Relaxing in the pits with the car ready to run is the "High Heaven" gang from Colorado, normally seen with a Camaro body on the chassis as they compete in the Funny Car Chaos series, but this weekend it's back in AA/FA trim with Keith Jackson behind the wheel.

(RIGHT) Another of the iconic names in AA/Fuel Altered racing from waaay back is the "Pure Hell" Bantam roadster, still owned by Rich Guasco, and now being driven by Brian Hope.

---

(LEFT) We're not sure who's pit area this is, or who is on the left, but it's almost certainly Larry Sutton, one of the most famous starters in So-Cal drag racing history (Lions, Irwindale, Orange County, etc) sitting on the ATV on the right.

(RIGHT) Managing to snag a "VIP" media parking spot is our roving photojournalist, "BIG" Bob Snyder with his (very) incognito transporter.

Finishing off our photo "essay" is Bob Snyder trying - and failing - to disguise himself in what looks like a Mark Sanders mask while schmoozing in the "Cacklin' Critter" pits.


FRIDAY

Joel Miner - 'Miner Threat' - A/FX --- Dan Horan - 'Infinity Plumbing' - NFC

(LEFT) Lifting the wheels waaay up was Joel Miner as his '65 Dodge "Miner Threat" made a qualifying pass in A/FX. His best of the weekend was a 10.339 - 128.24 that placed hgim #19 in the 28-car A/FX field.

(RIGHT) After the sportsman cars finished their session, it was time for the first round of qualifying for Nitro Funny Car. One of the first cars out of the lanes was Dan Horan in his "Infinity Plumbing" entry and he pounded out a huge 5.614 - 256.70 to stake his claim for the #1 spot. Barely visible in the near lane is the flaming nose of Tony Jurado's car as he nearly matched Horan's e.t. with a 5.674 at a booming 259.56 mph.

Cory Lee - 'The Pedaler' - NFC --- Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro - NFC

(LEFT) Getting a little sideways on the burnout was Cory Lee in Gary Turner's "Pedaler" '79 Challenger. He put down a strong opening lap of 5.684 - 257.97 to slot into the #7 spot at the end of the session.

(RIGHT) Coming down from Spokane, WA with his "Old School Nitro" '77 Arrow, was Chris Davis and he put down a good 5.957 - 241.20 to start his weekend.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' - NFC --- Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' - NFC

(LEFT) The already crowned 2021 NHRA Heritage Series champion, Bobby Cottrell in the very familiar Austin & O'Brien Bardahl Special, put down low e.t. of the round with a very quick 5.603 - 251.11 to let everyone know he was ready to go for his fifth event win in a row.

(RIGHT) Shocking everyone in the pits, and possibly even himself, Geoff Monise cranked out a career best 5.681 - 236.05 despite a slightly early shutoff. Leaving with the wheels up, the car covered the first 330' in less than 2.5 seconds to lead the field in that incremental. The crew was ecstatis to see the numbers on scoreboard as after five decades of running funny cars, the Van Gundy, Clark & Monise team finally broke into the 5.60's. That pass also put them in the top half of the field in the #6 spot.

Justin Taylor - 'Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty' - NFC --- Kris Krabill - 'Screamer' - NFC

(LEFT) Second generation driver Justin Taylor pushed the Mustang-bodied "Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty" car to a very good opening pass of 5.796 - 235.02 that eventually was only good enough for the #7 position (after the first session) in what was quickly shaping up as a very tough field.

(RIGHT) Looking like he was pedalling before the 60' mark, Kris 'Hollywood' Krabill launched the "Screamer" to a low 6-second pass that ended in a large fireball. It got worse after the finish line, as the oil-fed inferno forced Krabill to make an exit while the car was still in motion, leading to a trip to the hospital. The car was badly damaged, and to add insult to injury, the e.t. was DQ' due to the ensuing oildown. Thankfully, Krabill was back at the track on Saturday in good spirits, despite an early end to the event for the team.

Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' - NFC --- Drew Austin - 'Pro Max' - NFC

(LEFT) Smoking the tires hard on the burnout, Billy Morris drove Eddie Knox's "Problem Child" Camaro to an early shutoff 7.663 at only 118.82 mph to end the first round of qualifying in the #13 position.

(RIGHT) Making his first competition pass in Nostalgia Funny Car, Drew Austin made the jump from A/Fuel to the nitro flopper world look easy with a very good 5.952 - 240.29 that put him in the #10 spot after Q-1. Those numbers would end up being his slowest of the weekend as you'll see later in our California Hot Rod Reunion coverage.

Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' - NFC --- Jeff Gregory - 'Madness' - NFC

(LEFT) The heavily modified '70 Challenger body that adorns the "Cacklin' Critter" worked well for Matt Melendez as he cranked out a good 5.850 - 225.26 despite the early shutoff, placing him eighth in the field.

(RIGHT) The black '78 Camaro "Madness" of Jeff Gregory didn't get very far under power, shutting off very early to a 8.343 - 99.60 to end up near the bottom of the field.

Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' - NFC --- Don Knoblouch - 'Atomic Punk' - NFC

(LEFT) Last year's runnerup in the points battle, Jerry Espeseth hadn't been seen since the Heritage season opener at Boise's 'Ignitor' event, but didn't show any rust from the inactivity, pounding out a 5.729 - 253.37 to place him #4 in the field in the "Rolling Thunder 2.0" entry.

(RIGHT) Closing out the round was Washington state's Don Knoblouch"Atomic Punk" Camaro, and his first pass of the weekend was a so-so 7.058 - 192.12, that showed there was still some work to do on the tuneup.


PRO MOD - Qualifying Session #1

These are not NHRA "Big Show" Pro Mods, or one of the multitude of "Outlaw" series that have proliferated. It's just a bunch of West Coast cars that gather for a fun event at Bakersfield twice a year. Lots of less than perfect aerodrynamic bodies and not as polished, and certainly not as well sponsored as you might expect at a national event. Hmm... sort of like Funny Car Chaos with doorslammer bodies. Pro Mod Chaos anyone?

Robert Bingham - PM --- Andy Kouerinis - PM

(LEFT)

(RIGHT) Leading off the Pro Mods was Andy Kouerinis in his Camaro S/S and he put down a good 6.179 - 214.69 to sit fourth in the field at the end of Friday's qualifying.

Kirk Kuhns - PM --- Karl Wilson - PM

(LEFT) Long-time West Coast hitter Kirk Kuhns is still at it after three decades of wheeling Pro Mods, but it's Jeremy Hanger behind the wheel of his '59 'Vette now. He covered the field by a bunch with a very strong 5.806, coupled with a BIG speed of 257.92 mph.

(RIGHT) In contrast to the early model 'Vette of Kuhns, the '93 'Vette of Karl Wilson showed a very different look, and unfortunately, a very different result as Karl's best effort of the day was an early shutoff of 9.997 - 75.98 to sit at the bottom of the 11-car field.

Josh Kalish - PM --- Sean Renteria - 'Borrmann's Steel' - PM

(LEFT) This very sinister looking '53 Stude of Josh Kalish blasted out a solid 6.297 - 240.51 to slot into the middle of the field in the #5 spot.

(RIGHT) The totally unique '65 Valiant of Sean Renteria doesn't look like it should be able to run that fast, but his 5.955 - 244.56 landed him in the #2 position on the ladder, however, well behind the #1 (Jeremy Hanger) car by a tenth and a half.

Troy Ferry - 'Bunker Motorsports' - PM --- Dan Myers - PM

(LEFT) The only late model car in the field, the Bunker Motorsports '14 Challenger driven by Troy Ferry almost broke into the 5-second zone, carding a 6.026 - 242.58, good enough for the #3 position.

(RIGHT) The clean looking '57 Chevy of Dan Myers didn't get all that he wanted, with a leaving him in the #7 spot on the charts.

Eric Petersen - 'The EFI Store' - PM

Something totally different is the flat black '51 Chevy of Washington state's Eric Petersen, who had a troubled day with a best of only 7.379 - 186.95 to his credit.


NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #2


Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' - NFC --- Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' - NFC

(LEFT) From the outhouse to not quite the penthouse, car owner/tuner Eddie Knox sorted out whatever problems his "Problem Child" had and it resulted in Billy Morris cranking out a 5.635 - 239.36 to jump from #13 to #3, despite the early shutoff, evidenced by the sub-240 mph speed.

(RIGHT) Running in the lane next to Morris, Geoff Monise tried to duplicate his first session career best 5.68 pass, but he was forced to lift just before the 1000' mark. The timeslip showed some great incrementals to half track, nearly three hundredths and five mph ahead of Morris, but the quarter-mile time was only 6.234 - 137.01 and that saw him drop from #3 to #4 on the qualifying list.

Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment' - NFC --- Drew Austin - 'Pro Max' - NFC

(LEFT) With the car up For Sale as he moves deeper into the "Big Show" nitro funny car world, Tony Jurado was trying hard to improve on his first session 5.729, but fell just short with a still very good 5.780 - 250.88. He didn't drop back and stayed in the middle of the field at #8 on the ladder.

(RIGHT) In the other lane was the overnight success story of the meet, Drew Austin and the Austin clan turned the screws on the tuneup in the right direction, as they stepped up nearly two tenths from a 5.952 to an excellent 5.772 - 241.89 to #8 from #10. Steady progress and the car still wasn't run all the way to the finish line.

Dan Horan - 'Infinity Plumbing' - NFC --- Don Knoblouch - 'Atomic Punk' - NFC

(LEFT) Coming out of the burnout with the motor set on "mean", Dan Horan was ready to rock the scoreboards and he did just that. In fact, to the tune of 5.614 - 256.70 to close the gap to #1 Bobby Cottrell.

(RIGHT) With Jeff Diehl helping sort out the Don Knoblouch car, the second session saw the car run hard to half track, before coasting to a much better (than his earlier 7.058) e.t. of 6.542, at a very early shutoff 155.01 mph. With other cars stepping up, that moved the "Punk" down from #12 to #14 going into the final qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.

Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' - NFC --- James Day - 'Speed Sport Special' - NFC

(LEFT) After a solid 5.729 e.t. in the first qualifying session, Jerry Espeseth went absolutely nowhere when he ignited the tires on the launch and didn't cross the finish line until the clocks had reset for the next pair.

(RIGHT) It was a good looking launch for the "Speed Sport" Omni, carrying the front wheels past the 60' mark, but it went south shortly after as James Day could only manage a 8.693 - 93.85 to drop into the #17 spot with just one qualifying session left.

Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' - NFC --- Kamaka Pocock - 'California Hustler' - NFC

(LEFT) Another consistent pass, in the 5's and over 240 mph, but his 5.957 - 241.20 left him Chris Davis in the #13 spot at the end of Friday's second qualifying session.

(RIGHT) After an early shutoff (5.892 at just 195.05 mph) in the first session, Kamaka Pocock really picked up the pace in Don Nelson's "California Hustler", knocking two tenths of his e.t. and moving up to the #5 spot with an excellent 5.684 - 252.52 timeslip.

Terry Haddock - 'Fool's Errand' - NFC --- Terry Haddock - 'Fool's Errand' - NFC

Making his Heritage Series debut with a solid burnout, then launching with the butterflies wide open on the old-style Hilborn "Shotgun" injector, Terry Haddock labored down track in the ex-"Mr. Boston" car. It's now the "Fool's Errand" but still pays homage to it's "Bawstin" origin. The clocks stopped for Haddock at 7.434 - 196.27; nothing to write home about, but good enough for the #15 spot and a provisional spot in the show.

Heidi Austin - BUG - NFC

Always seen in front of the "Austin & O'Brien" car, backing up Bobby Cottrell, it's Heidi Austin performing her "reverse gear assistant" duties with style.


NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #1


Adam Sorokin - 'Champion Speed Shop Special - NTF --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' - NTF

(LEFT) In far-and-away the most unique car in Nostalgia Top Fuel racing, second generation driver Adam Sorokin had his hands full when the small-block Chevy powered "Champion Speed Shop Special" got waaay too close to the wall before he wisely lifted and coasted to a 9.738 - 82.18 to leave him on the outside of the field in the #9 spot going into Saturday's final qualifier.

(RIGHT) Another non-conventional powerplant came out next as a big-block Chevy sat between the frame rails in the Jim & Allison Lee-owned "Great Expectations III" car. This team has been running since the early 70's and one of the original driver's sons is now in the hot seat. It's young Tyler Hilton and he ran strong until the power went away on the top end, stopping the clocks at 6.024 - 201.76 to show there was a lot more potential in their new combination after blowing it up BIG TIME at Bowling Green in June.

Frank McBee Jr. - 'Valley Thunder' - NTF --- Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' - NTF

(LEFT) At the end of the burnout, Frank McBee Jr. brought the "Valley Thunder" to a halt before preparing to launch into his first qualifying attempt. It went well to the 1000' mark, then the throttle closed and McBee coasted across the finish line at 6.263 - 203.09 to slot into the #4 position.

(RIGHT) Running alongside McBee was the "Forever Young" team with jack-of-all-trades Bret Williamson behind the motor. He was running away from the Valley Thunder at half track before shutting off to a 6.567 - 161.50, only good enough for the #6 rung on the ladder.

Brendan Murry - 'Runnin' Wild' - NTF --- Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' - NTF

(LEFT) Now running a late-model Chrysler, former Chevy stalwart Brendan Murry didn't have much better luck as his "Runnin' Wild" had to shut off early to a 7.433 - 129.59 clocking that left him in the #7 spot.

(RIGHT) Launching hard in the "Overtime Special" with the flames high, but unfortunately, not for long, was Tyler Hester as he slowed to an 8.043 at 99.11 mph to end up on the provisional bubble for the 8-car field.


Mark Tarabochia - 'Bad Medicine' - 7.0 PRO

Down from Oregon to test the 7.0 PRO waters again, Mark Tarabochia wheeled the "Bad Medicine" '70 Barracuda (the only Funny Car in the class) to a 7.642 to hold down the 16th place in the all-run 22-car field.


SATURDAY


NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #2


Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' (near lane) vs 
Brendan Murry - 'Runnin' Wild' (far lane) - NTF --- Brendan Murry - 'Runnin' Wild' - NTF

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Adam Sorokin - 'Champion Speed Shop' (near lane) vs 
Dan Horan (far lane) - NTF --- Dusty Green (near lane) vs Jim Murphy - WWIII' 
(near lane) - NTF

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Dan Horan - NTF --- Dan Horan - NTF

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Frank McBee Jr. - 'Valley Thunder' - NTF --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' - NTF

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' - NTF --- Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' - NTF

Slowing down after his final qualifying attempt, Tyler Hester runs into a little trouble with the "" and ends up next to (or into) the guardwall at the deep end of the shutdown area.


NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #3


Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' (near lane) vs 
Drew Austin - 'Pro Max' - NFC --- Drew Austin - 'Pro Max' - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno - 
NFC --- Kamaka Pocock - 'California Hustler' - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' (near lane) vs 
Terry Haddock - 'Fool's Errand' - NFC --- Jerry Epeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' - NFC --- Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment' - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

James Day - 'Speed Sport Special' - NFC --- Don Knoblouch - 'Atomic Punk' - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Jeff Gregory - 'Madness' - NFC --- Old School Funny Car

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


AA/FUEL ALTERED - Qualifying Session #2


Dave 'Nasty' Benjamin - AA/FA --- Nick Van Horn - 'Panic' (near lane) vs 
Randy Bradford - 'Bradford's Fiat' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Jeff Bennett - 'Pure Heaven' (near lane) vs 
Brian Hope 'Pure Hell' (far lane) - AA/FA --- Brian Hope 'Pure Hell' - AA/FA

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


PRO MOD - Eliminations Round #1


Robert Bingham (near lane) vs Karl Wilson 
(far lane) - PM --- Sean Renteria - 'Borrmann's Steel' (near lane) 
vs Wade Sjostrom (far lane) - PM

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Troy Ferry (near lane) vs Josh Kalish (far 
lane) - PM --- Dan Myers (near lane) vs Andy Kouerinis (far 
lane) - PM

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Ed Marx - PM --- Jeremy Hanger - 'Kirk Kuhns' - PM

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Eliminations Round #1


Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' (near lane) 
vs Jerry Eepeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' (far lane) - NFC --- Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' (near lane) 
vs James Day - 'Speed Sport Special' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Terry Haddock - 'Fool's Errand' (near lane) 
vs Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardhal Special' (far lane) - NFC --- Dan Horan - 'Infinity Plumbing' (near lane) vs 
Don Knoblouch - 'Atomic Punk' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Justin Taylor - 'Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty' 
(near lane) vs Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment' (far lane) - NFC --- Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' (near lane) vs 
Drew Austin - 'Pro Max' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno 
(near lane) vs Cory Lee - 'The Pedaler' (far lane) - NFC --- Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' (near lane) vs 
Kamaka Pocock - 'California Hustler' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #3


Sunset over the olive groves

Jim Murphy - 'WWIII' (near lane) vs 
Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' (far lane) - NTF --- Brendan Murry - 'Runnin' Wild' (near lane) vs 
Adam Sorokin - 'Champion Speed Shop Special' (far lane) - NTF

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' - NTF --- Frank McBee Jr. - 'Valley Thunder' - NTF

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


AA/FUEL ALTERED - Qualifying Session #2


Brian Hope - 'Pure Hell' - AA/FA --- Brian Hope - 'Pure Hell' (near lane) vs 
Ron Hope - 'Rat Trap' - AA/FA

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Dan Pettinato - 'Rat Poison' - AA/FA --- Dan Pettinato - 'Rat Poison' (near lane) vs 
Randy Bradford - 'Bradford's Fiat' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Shawn Callen - 'High Heaven' - AA/FA --- Shawn Callen - 'High Heaven' (near lane) vs 
Kyle Hough - 'Nanook' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

Jeff Bennett - 'Pure Heaven' (near lane) vs 
Nick Van Horn - 'Panic!' (far lane) - AA/FA