March Madness post-event notes

March Madness? Nope! March Meet Madness 49th Year of Racing Draws Thousands To Auto Club Famoso Raceway BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Mar. 16, 2007) -- The March Meet is Back. And How! Local television stations reported thousands of spectators and...

March Madness? Nope! March Meet Madness
49th Year of Racing Draws Thousands To Auto Club Famoso Raceway

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Mar. 16, 2007) -- The March Meet is Back. And How! Local television stations reported thousands of spectators and hot rodders at Auto Club Famoso Raceway Mar. 9-11 for the fabled Bakersfield drag racing event.

Bakersfield's traditionally largest event attracted more than 450 racing cars along with spectators and news media from as far away as Germany, Sweden and New Zealand to celebrate nostalgia drag racing at its finest. A car show with more than 250 cars, 75 vendors and a huge swap meet added to the festivities.

In Top Fuel, Brett Harris defeated Jim Murphy, who was attempting to win his fifth March Meet. Harris roared down the quarter-mile in 5.865 seconds at a speed of 257.65 mph. Murphy's car broke during the run. On his way to the win, Harris defeated his father, Jack Harris, during the first round of eliminations.

Other class winners included Chris Abbey in AA /Gas Supercharged, Kin Bates in A Fuel, J.D. Zink in Junior Fuel A, Bud Hammer in Junior Fuel B, Dave Ward in Nostalgia Eliminator, Dan See in Nostalgia Eliminator II, James Purpuro in Nostalgia Eliminator III and Leonard Perry in B Gas.

"With over 700 vehicles and thousands of spectators, this is the world's largest three day nostalgia drag racing event," said Todd Strain of NBC 17, "the March Meet is the past and present of Bakersfield drag racing." Greg Kerr of Fox 58 television, the dean of Bakersfield sportscasters, said, "the event and the track have been pushed to a new level" by local ownership. "Drag racing teams from all over compete in the March Meet, but it's not all about winning, it's about people," said Pep Fernandez of ABC 23.

The crowds pleased the track's sponsor, the Automobile Club of Southern California. "The vibe here is really great," said Rick Lalor, Manager of Motorsports for the Auto Club. "We're already looking forward to the fiftieth year of racing here, and, of course, 'We're always with you."

"We're having a lot of fun, there are a lot of good people here and it's a great atmosphere," said Steve Romanazzi, who won the Nostalgia Funny Car class. "The appeal is just the down home feel here," Brandon Stalnaker told ABC23, "everybody comes out, we're all out here camping out, it's just old cars like it used to be and that's what everybody loves."

Robert Hight, who has the quickest time down the strip in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car history, was grand marshal for the event. Fellow Funny Car driver Ron Capps participated in the Nostalgia Funny Car class, winning his first round, but hurting the car too badly to continue.

"We want to thank everyone who came to Auto Club Famoso Raceway for this spectacular weekend," said Blake Bowser, vice-president of operations for the historic facility. "We hope we put smiles on a lot of faces, and we had a great weekend of racing, rodding and rousing memories. Now we're looking forward to next year, which will be our fiftieth racing season. We will be celebrating fifty years of Bakersfield."

The March Meet, which inaugurated top-level drag racing in Bakersfield, features nostalgia drag racing in fourteen classes. From front-engined Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars to Hot Rods, there's a class for every nostalgia racer who ever dreamed of competing.

The Kern County Racing Association (KCRA) operates historic Auto Club Famoso Raceway (just north of Bakersfield, Calif.) and promotes a full schedule of races year round, including the world famous March Meet. The 2008 March Meet will celebrate 50 years of racing in Bakersfield. The event is the recognized Mecca of Nostalgia Drag Racing. For more details, visit www.famosoraceway.com.

-credit: kcra

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