It’s not easy being a spectator
I found that just because you bought an “All Access” ticket to the March Meet in Bakersfield this year, that it didn’t exactly get you “in”. It did let you walk several hundred feet past the ticket booth and across the staging lanes to the entrance to the “Grove” (hot rods, nostalgia race cars, classic cars, food, etc.) but at this point you really weren’t “in”. No, apparently the admission ticket you just purchased for $30.00 (American), did not allow you complete access … well, not just yet.
Standing on both sides of the entrance to the grove were a couple of 300 lb. sumo wrestlers, very gruffly demanding “LET ME SEE YOUR TICKET!” With a crowd gathering behind us, because the ticket was now in a pocket somewhere in my pants or jacket, I questioned the request, he responded with the retort “LET ME SEE YOUR TICKET!” To add to the turmoil this giant of a mental midget along with his twin lackey, was also badgering fans leaving the grove and trying to enter the open portion of the staging area with the now loud and familiar “LET ME SEE YOUR TICKET!” I expected a stomping of the feet before the next round of demands.
I found my ticket, showed it to this master of fair judgment and proceeded through the gate wondering to myself, what the heck are they doing? Sending in heavy hitters asking for your ticket two minutes after you purchased it made no sense. After perusing the grove with its many nostalgia dragsters, classics, street rods and 50 years of memories we decided to enter the pit area to visit our friends who were participants in this huge weekend gala. There is an opening just south of the old original food stand where you can enter and exit the pits from the grove. Wait! Not so fast – another checkpoint to present your papers before entering. What happened?! Did the sumo wrestlers radio ahead and tell these clowns we were coming? What the hell is going on? These guys were smaller and much younger, kind of like the ‘Brown Shirts’ in Germany back in the day. Due to their size the Brown Shirts timidly asked for our tickets. When questioned on the ridiculousness of the whole thing, he shyly responded, “My supervisor told me to do this.” The kid was told to hassle every one for their ticket and didn’t even know why. I couldn’t believe what was going on.
When we left the pits and headed for the grandstands, you guessed it … Checkpoint Charlie. The overly large bozo that hassled us this time got a little surly with us when we told him he needed a black arm band with a swastika on it. I see the potential for taller fences with barbed wire in the future to separate the paying public from things like … oh … the grove with all it’s nostalgic memories, street rods and classics, the pit area with all its action, firing the engines, the eye watering nitro fumes, old friends, personalities, manufacturers row, food stands, cackle cars, the swap meet and of course the grand stands where you could watch the races if you answer to the sentry’s frowning bark “VEAH IST DAS TIKET!”
I’ve been coming to Bakersfield in March since 1959 when it was the Fuel and Gas Championships – that’s a picture of me here (below, to the right) in our famous crankdrive. I’ve participated and spectated and it has always been very enjoyable. I can tell you I’ve never seen anything like this before. I can’t imagine what would happen if someone lost track of that ticket between the time they left the ticket booth and the time they reach the first demarcation zone. The only way out would be to argue with the SS troops or buy another ticket. I never received an explanation – the whole thing is insane and the fans are not happy, but then again who are they? They just pay the bills.
See ya at the races