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25th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion Is Bartones Last Hurrah
Oakdales Richard Townsend and his Nitroholic team competed over the weekend at Famoso and were doing well until some mechanical gremlins hit them, forcing them out of the competition. Photo By Mike Burghardt

In what has been announced as his final year competing in the NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel category, Tony Bartone closed out the season with his third consecutive California Hot Rod Reunion Nostalgia Top Fuel title. This also secured his third consecutive NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel season championship. Bartone dominated the category over the weekend at the Famoso Raceway by qualifying in the top spot and setting low elapse time of the event (5.521 seconds) enroute to a dramatic 5.600 at 247.25 mph final round (winner take all) win over Jim Murphy. The two drivers entered the final round separated by a mere 19 points in the championship, in a point system that gives 20 points for each round won.

In the Nostalgia Funny Car category, Jason Rupert marched from his number one qualifying position into the final round, setting low elapse time of the event along the way (5.579 seconds). In the final round he took out Kris Krabill with a strong 5.592 at 250.32 mph to claim the 25th annual California Hot Rod Reunion Nostalgia Funny Car event title and secure the NHRA Heritage Nostalgia Funny Car season championship. Popular Oakdale racer, Richard Townsend and his Nitroholic team had a tough weekend. After posting a strong 5.87 second first round qualifying effort, which was good enough for a number six position, they ran into some mechanical gremlins. By the time qualifying was over, they found themselves in the 15th spot in a 16-car field. The issues continued as they could muster no better than a 5.934 second elapse time in the first round of eliminations. This resulted in an opening round loss.

The popular AA/Fuel Altered category was contested, utilizing the “Chicago Style Racing” format. In this format, the four quickest (by elapse time) winners during the first elimination round are advanced to the final round. In the four car final round, the quickest winner of the two pairs of cars is declared the event winner. The category is regulated by a class index of six seconds, such that a car running below the index is disqualified. Kyle Hough claimed the category win with a winning 6.232 at 229.94 mph over Jason Richey, who ran a 6.296 at 214.18 mph.

This event draws near sellout crowds every year, as it is not only a racing event, but also a celebration of the history of the sport. Each year fans are treated to displays of hundreds of famous cars and appearances of drivers of the past. Many of the historic race cars have been completely restored and can be fired up. This is commonly called “cackling”, based on the sound that a nitro engine makes when it is running. Though most of these cars do not meet the modern day safety standards for competition, they are started up and driven down the race track for the fans. These restored race cars are brought in from throughout the United States and Canada. Some have even come from Europe and Australia.