Goodguys March Meet pre-race notes
47th March Meet kicks off Goodguys 2006 Event Season Bakersfield, CA - The cabin fever is beginning to wane, the days are getting brighter, temperatures warmer and vintage drag racers and hot rodders from around the United States have ...
47th March Meet kicks off Goodguys 2006 Event Season
Bakersfield, CA - The cabin fever is beginning to wane, the days are getting brighter, temperatures warmer and vintage drag racers and hot rodders from around the United States have Bakersfield's Auto Club Famoso Raceway firmly planted in their sights. Their target? The Goodguys 47th March Meet presented by Clay Smith Cams March 10-12. Over 500 1972 & earlier vintage drag racers have pre-entered for the drag racing portion of the event which features 14 different classes of competition. Joining the racers are hundreds of hot rodders who have entered their souped up hot rods, customs & classics to "kick tires" and be part of the March Meet show & shine. The event gets underway Friday morning March 10th and won't let up until the final two vintage dragsters have crossed the finish line, Sunday evening March 12th.
The 47th March Meet serves as the kick off event to the 2006 Goodguys/VRA West Coast Championship Series - a four-event vintage drag racing points series which includes a stop at historic Pomona Raceway May 5-7, a memorial day weekend visit to Pacific Raceways near Seattle before concluding right back at Auto Club Famoso Raceway during the early fall weekend of November 3-5. While the other events provide maximum excitement and drama, the March Meet is Mecca for all hot rodders. Much like NASCAR's Daytona 500, Goodguys starts off their season with the biggest event.
For Florida's Don Garlits, who will be on hand all weekend in Bakersfield signing autographs and making exhibition runs with his restored "Swamp Rat" dragster - the March Meet is like coming home. "I first came here to race my dragster in 1959," Garlits recalled. "The Smoker's car club paid me to come out and race against the best in the west. I didn't win that first trip out but over time I came to love Bakersfield and Famoso Raceway. I didn't miss many March Meet over my 47 year career and with some good fortune; I won five March Meet top fuel titles. I'm looking forward to coming back this year." Indeed Garlits' five top fuel victories stamp him as the event's winningest top fuel racer. He will be honored by Goodguys in a starting line ceremony Sunday morning, March 12th at 9:45am.
Nowadays, the March Meet top fuel racing is of the front motored variety as it was back in the 1960s and early 1970s. The "slingshot" style top fuelers headline the Goodguys/VRA program. As many as 35 active, contemporary front engined top fuel dragsters are campaigned throughout the country, with a field of 20 of the nations best expected to attempt qualifying runs for the March Meet's 16-car eliminator field. Leading the way is defending Goodguys/VRA Series champion Rick White of San Diego. White and his partner Chuck Neal won their first Goodguys Championship in dramatic fashion last season, waiting until the final event of the year to seal their season champion status. White, a former land speed racer who's been as fast as 402mph at Bonneville owns the dragster while Neal, a veteran top fuel sand dragster racer builds the team's potent 417 aluminum Donovan engines. "We built a new car for this season and we're so excited to defend our crown," White said. "The cockpit sits about three inches higher than last year's car so I should be able to see out of it a lot better." Other strong top fuel competitors include Southern California's Sean Bellemeur, Terry Cox of Sacramento, Exeter's Rick McGee, Santa Rosa's Jim Murphy, Livermore's Mike Fuller and nostalgia drag racing's fastest woman - Aliso Viejo's Mendy Fry as well as a host of top fuel competitors. The first round of top fuel eliminations are scheduled for 3:30pm Saturday afternoon, March 11th.
The Nostalgia Funny Car class has continued to surge off last year's momentum. The defending class champion and world record elapsed time holder Larry Pettit of Hawthorne, CA comes into the March Meet with a new team and a new car. Following his triumphant 2005 campaign, Pettit split with his former partner and will now field a 1977 Plymouth Arrow with new partner Charlie O'Neal - a former AA/GAS racer. An event highlight includes the plight of NHRA Funny Car competitors Del and Chuck Worsham who have chosen the 47th March Meet as the competition debut of their recreated "Blue Max" 1977 Ford Mustang II Nostalgia Funny Car, a car campaigned in the 70s by the legendary Raymond Beadle of Texas. In addition, Carlsbad's Ron Capps, driver of the Brut Dodge Stratus on the NHRA PowerAde Series, will race at the March Meet behind the wheel of a 1970 Dodge Challenger owned by Riverside's Jeff Gaynor. Arizona's Steve Tryon, Fresno's Steve Romanazzi, and El Cajon's Randy Walls are scheduled to debut new cars as well.
All Points West:
Several racers will travel long distances to compete at the 47th March Meet. Junior Fuel racer Brian Darcy will tow 2900 miles from his home in Newburgh, New York to race in his first ever March Meet. B/GAS racers Randy Sacksteder, Mike Hill, Earl Scott and Eldon Miller are coming from Indiana. But C/GAS racer Darren Wood gets the nod for the unofficial "long distance" award as he'll tow his 1970 Camaro 3006 miles to Bakersfield all the way from Barkhamsted, Connecticut!
"Wall of Champions"
On Friday, March 10th at 1:00pm Goodguys will unveil a special tribute to all past March Meet Top Fuel winners. The hand painted monument, called "The Wall of Champions" features the names of all 42 March Meet top fuel winners. Several past champions, including Garlits, first March Meet top fuel winner Art Chrisman and the latest winner, Howard Haight are expected to attend the ceremony.
Joining the over 500 vintage drag racing entries at the 47th March Meet will be 100's of 1972 & earlier hot rods and custom cars. Hot rods, jalopies, metal flake customs, tricked out trucks and every kind of pre-'73 classic American car you can imagine will fill the tree-lined "Famoso Grove" area to the west of the bleachers as well as every other spare inch of ground at the facility. No less than three midways filled with vendors exhibits will be an event highlight selling everything from drag racing memorabilia to hubcaps and car wax. If it's vintage auto or racing parts you seek, down past the finish line is where you'll find a giant swap meet full of used automotive and hi performance treasure.
Admission and Hours:
The Goodguys 47th March Meet presented by Clay Smith Cams event gates open at 8am daily. General admission is $25 Friday, $30 Saturday and $30 Sunday. Kids 7-12 are $10 per day and kids 6 and under are free. An adult weekend pass is $75. All tickets include a pit pass. Tickets available at the event only. For additional event information, contact Goodguys at (925) 838-9876 or visit www.good-guys.com
VIR Gold Cup Historics news 2006-02-20
This Week in Racing History (Feb 26-March 4)