From a vintage truck enthusiast's perspective, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum-hosted, Automobile Club of Southern California-sponsored California Hot Rod Reunion-which rolls into the sleepy little town of Bakersfield the first weekend of October-is as good a place as any to see some of the coolest classic street trucks and race car rigs in the sport, some of which have been doing this kind of thing since the very beginning.
Just to cite a few examples: Inaugural U.S. Fuel & Gas Championships Top Fuel Champion Art Chrisman still uses a 1957 Ranchero to pushstart the fully restored Chrisman & Cannon Hustler 1 at the California Hot Rod Reunion, just like the one he used to win Bakersfield with in '58. Kenny Safford's candy blue '59 El Camino, which was originally used to pushstart the Safford, Gaide, and Ratican Sour Sisters Oldsmobile-engined AA/FD way back in '63, is still out there doing its thing at both the California and Kentucky NHRA Hot Rod Reunion events. That also goes for the fabled Top Fuel team of Weekly, Rivero, Fox, and Holding. Whenever the Frantic Four make an appearance at Old Famoso with their reincarnated Chrysler-engined AA/FD, you'll find it being pushstarted by a replica of the team's '62 Chevrolet pickup. And finally, whenever five-time U.S. Fuel & Gas Championships winner "Big Daddy" Don Garlits makes an appearance at the California Hot Rod Reunion, you can bet his infamous Swamp Rat III Chrysler-powered AA/FD will be pushed off by his fully restored '61 GMC Carry All. It's a complete act!
Hot rod trucks have also been known to compete trackside at the event. This year, Larry Factor's Speed & Kolor '46 Chevrolet sedan delivery small-block Gasser competed in the Exhibition class, while Eric Christianson's Tequila wheel-standing '65 Falcon Ranchero delighted fans with huge wheelies while running a best qualifying number of 11.05 @ 119.00 mph competing in the B/FX class. Wheel-stander aficionados also got a good look at the underside of a '57 Chevrolet Cameo whenever Gary McWilliams jumped behind the wheel of his Pick Your Part-sponsored E-Ticket Ride and blazed a two-wheel trail down the historic Famoso quarter-mile.
Of course, the highlight of any California Hot Rod Reunion is Saturday evening's Cacklefest, where you'll see quite a few really cool classic trucks pushstarting landmark vehicles up the Old Famoso fire-up road, like the Speed-Sport roadsters, the Beebe & Mulligan AA/FD, the Samurai AA/FD, the Ernie's Camera Shop Special, and the restored Top Fuel car of Greer, Black & Prudhomme, to name just a few.
On numerous occasions throughout the weekend, Pick Your Part's Gary McWilliams showed Cali
Next in line was the Steve Davis-restored/driven Greer, Black & Prudhomme AA/FD, which was
This '54 GMC looked right at home pushstarting the Scotty Fenn Special TE 440-injected Chr