Tag Archives: National Hot Rod Reunion

2014 National Hot Rod Reunion

The professional drag racing world was paying close attention to Bristol Dragway and the Thunder Valley Nationals in Eastern Tennessee this past weekend. There, the defending Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon won for the first time this year, the Funny Car victor Tommy Johnson Jr. won for the first time in 11 years and in Pro Stock, Erica Enders-Stevens was the first women to ever win at Bristol while continuing her historic romp in 2014. However, 300 miles to the west in Western Kentucky, drag racing the way it used to be – sort of  – was playing out at the National Hot Rod Reunion, which was performing for the 12th time in its successful history.

Other than a brief shower or two, which made for typical late spring muggy conditions at times, the weather was great at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green. Bonneville legend George Poteet was the grand Marshal. Poteet owns the land speed record for the fastest piston-driven car – go to the bottom of the page for a little video of his record breaking runs.

The main storyline among the ground-thumping Top Fuelers heading into the race was longtime NHRA Sportsman driver Dave Hirata out of Indiana driving the Orange Crate Top Fueler from Iowa – Hirata is fairly new to Nostalgia Top Fuel. Of course, big names like Tony Bartone out of New York and Jim Murphy from California truly made this big race, a national event through-and-through.

Tony Bartone - Bowling Green 2014

Tony Bartone won Top Fuel at the National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green

In the end, Bartone was the winner over Jim Young, while Hirata and Murphy were knocked out in the semis. This was Bartone’s second Nostalgia win of the year after taking the famed March Meet victory to start the season. That puts Bartone securely on top of the Top Fuel standings, with Young, Murphy and Hirata over 100 points back, in second through fourth respectively.

The other class winners were Ken Hawkins in Jr. Fuel, Michael Sexton in 7.0 Pro, Ross Laird in 7.5 Pro, Don Nave in Competition Eliminator, Buddy Wray in Gas Eliminator, Kerry Williams in Modified Eliminator, Mike Moss in Super Stock, Chad Mahlosky in Stock, Terry Lindsey in Hot Rod and John Gray in the Geezer Gasser category.  Saturday night ended with the always impressive music-to-the-ears-splitting Cacklefest.

Next up for the Top Fuelers is the Nightfire National in Boise, Idaho, August 7-10.

Additional sources: NHRA, AA/Fuel Dragsters


Daryle W. Hier





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National Hot Rod Reunion – Fathers Day Weekend

Rat Trap powers down Beech Bend Raceway

Fueled Altered Rat Trap powers down Beech Bend Raceway
Courtesy of NHRA Motorsports Museum

This Father’s Day weekend comes the largest Nostalgia drag racing events east of the Rockies: The National Hot Rod Reunion (NHRR).  The race takes place starting tomorrow – although teams and vendors are there today – the event going from June 13-15 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky (source: NHRA).

This is the 11th annual NHRR and was originally created to give those in the eastern half  of the country an ability to see some of what those that had visited the California Hot Rod Reunion (CHRR) were able to enjoy.  The CHRR is the largest Nostalgia drag meet in the world and the popularity was such that the NHRR was established.  In-turn, the NHRR has become such a success that there’s is now a third reunion that will take place at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, as the New England Hot Rod Reunion.

The NHRR will have of course Top Fuel along with many of the other popular classes that Nostalgia meets have.  There will be a Cacklefest, which is memorable all by itself bringing back and actually firing up the original cars of yesteryear.  There’s a Show N Shine with all kinds of classic cars on hand, plus a swap meet and vendors for everything under the sun – in other words, something for everyone in the family to enjoy.  And don’t forget that Beech Bend is also an amusement park.

Companies such as Holley, AAA Insurance and Axalta Coatings are major sponsors of the event.  Preston Davis is the Grand Marshal  and gained his fame during the ’60s and ’70s as both a successful Top Fuel and Funny Car racer driving the famed Tennessee Bo Weevil throughout the southeast.

Reunions, unlike other drag meets, are a combination of drag race and get-together with some of the legends of the sport always on hand.  If you’ve never been to one of these magnificent spectacles, head on out to the rolling hills of western Kentucky and enjoy the time of a lifetime.  And no, I don’t get paid anything for saying that … it’s just the truth.  By the way, if you can’t make it out, the race is being broadcast through live streaming at BangShift.com.

Otherwise – Be There!

Daryle W. Hier

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Hot Rod Reunion Craze Heads to the East Coast in 2013

New England Dragway Will Offer New Event

In 2013, On September 12th through the 14th, the first New England Hot Rod Reunion will be held at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire.

New Hampshire

Celebrating 60 years of drag racing in the New England area, the inaugural event will feature the usual carnival of speed with Top Fuel and Funny Cars along with several other classes. There will also be a Show and Shine for classic cars and, of course, the now very popular Cacklefest featuring some of the most legendary quarter milers in history, all firing up at the same time for a ground-pounding sound that is unique to say the least.

It started in Bakersfield

Nostalgia drag racing first took hold in the late ’80s and was initially promoted by the American Nostalgia Racing Association (ANRA) and the Goodguys. Then the NHRA came along with the first California Hot Rod Reunion (CHRR) back in November of 1992; with this event becoming one of the more popular drag races in all the world – getting its start near Bakersfield, California, at the venerable Famoso Raceway.

Originally, the idea was to offer a social event that honored all the drag racers through the ages. It exploded from there, offering tributes to such icons as: TV Tommy Ivo, Don Garlits, Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme and so many more.

Kentucky and beyond

The California event was so popular, with tens of thousands of fans coming from all over the United States and the world, that a second reunion was created in 2002. The new event was staged at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, as the National Hot Rod Reunion and has become a huge success.

And now, some 3,100 miles from where it all started at Famoso, the New England Dragway which recently acquired NHRA status, will host a third rendition of this popular happening. The race program will once again be produced by the NHRA Motorsports Museum.

The Grand Marshal for the prestigious event will be local native Jimmy King. King was a big name in Top Fuel racing back in the early ’70s.


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Hello, Is there anybody in there?

Is Nostalgia drag racing and all its associations Comfortably Numb?

They say the press release is dying.  Personally I think, like a lot of things in this day and age, the way information is sent out with so many avenues – it’s not any one single medium that will work.

I’d like to think the people in Nostalgia drag racing would use one of them.  Anything, really.  Just use some source whether it’s Facebook, email, press release or other outlets to get the word out.

Why do I say this?  Maybe it’s not fair but have you seen the news coming out of South Africa?  World Cup this, World Cup that.  Inundating us with tiny minutiae of facts and “news” that is quite boring.  I, like many drag racing fans, am always searching for information – in this instance, Nostalgia drag racing – all the time.  I know there are events, very big events, attracting tens of thousands of people and affecting millions of dollars in revenue for locales.  BUT can you find a story about the winners and losers from say the National Hot Rod Reunion, when it ended recently?  No!  Millions of dollars went into the Bowling Green area and tens of thousand attended everyday.  Not too many entertainment gatherings can say that but the day after the story was … nothing.  There was no story.  Shame on NHRA and the Museum but also shame on the people of Bowling Green.  Sure they had a few big write-ups about the coming show (including myself) and said everyone should see this spectacle but afterwards, zero, zilch, nada.

It’s easy.  A short quick press release saying just a few quick hits on the event and who won the big titles.  That’s all.  As Pink Floyd says: “I need some information first.  Just the basic facts.”

I’m not comfortably numb and would like to see the PR people, whoever they are, start doing some PR for a sport that keeps growing, no thanks to those involved.

What do you think?

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No Noah’s Ark, But

Flooded home in Kentucky

In the MidSouth, torrential rains, thunderstorms and tornado’s have devastated portions of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.  The devastation throughout the region is gripping but the folks are trying to get back to some level of normalcy.  The people have been working their way back to life but the cost of pulling themselves back on their feet is immense. We here in California think we have weather but really we don’t.

Beech Bend Raceway Park after the storms

There are different ways to help and many Americans have come through to generate aid but for business, they can’t wait and for the people of Western Kentucky, a timely event will help business with a shot in the arm – The 8th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion will still take place at Beech Bend Raceway Park on Father’s Day weekend, June 18-20. It can’t happen soon enough.

With a boost in the local economy of $4million, Nostalgia drag racing, still growing in popularity even during the Recession, will offer a monetary enhancement which will be very welcome to the area.

Yes, the stands are under water

I read some real heart-wrenching stories and incredible pictures but have to admit, these Americans seem prepared for whatever comes along and handle it the best they can.  The community is doing everything they can to get the track and park ready and it’s quite remarkable what they’ve done so far.

The will of the Bowling Green community to the pull together and make certain that their venues are ready is wonderful to see.  Couple it with one of the more popular events of the year for the area and their seems to be a special situation arising out of this Springs damage.  So if you want to see real Americana at a very reasonable cost, watching the most exciting racing anywhere (plus a car show and swap meet), Father’s Day weekend at Beech Bend will fit the bill.

Weather always has the final say especially in drag racing (I’ve had my say on what we could do though) and we haven’t yet figured out how to stop it raining but with an event that grows every year, I’m sure this year won’t be any different at the historic Beech Bend … God willing and the creeks don’t rise.

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