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California Hot Rod Reunion

words / pictures= Justin Baas


The Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso raceway has been a must attend event for me for as long as I can remember. Where else can you get up close and personal with not only the cars but the drivers, crew, and builders that started this whole 1/4 mile deal decades ago. This years pilgrimage was a little different, instead of just enjoying the event I decided it was time to unload some stuff and grabbed a swap meet space, which worked out well as we were able to setup the Hop Up sales tent and Bar. After the beautiful 7 hour drive through LA, it was time to do some shopping before unloading, 2 minutes into the swap and I was the proud?? owner of a pile of model t bodies, a couple of them will go to some buddies so we can build a little fleet of banger cars so we actually have someone to race against at the hill climbs and drags and the more complete one will end up on the salt in a couple years.

Funny how that always seems to work out? Go to sell and end up needing a buddy to help you haul stuff home. The rest of the swap seemed to be pretty decent as well, not a lot of early ford junk, but what was there was quickly picked up by the large crowd. By 10 or so Friday morning Tim showed up with the Hop Up merch, after getting setup it gave me the opportunity to get out and explore the rest of the event. This year seemed a little light on the early stuff, with a giant field in the funny car, dragster, a-gas, and 7.0 pro classes the exhibition and hot rod classes seemed to get a little left out. While that stuff’s entertaining I really wish they would keep up with a field of truly early cars, both in looks and technology. I remember years ago seeing the Mooneyham and Sharp 34 as well as others make full smoker passes, but I guess the $$$$ guys and lawyers put an end to ever seeing that again… at least at a nhra track. There also seemed to be a complete lack of any flathead powered cars running, which is a little disappointing considering this is supposed to be a “reunion” based on the roots of our history. Alright enough bitching, what was there was an extremely fast field of nostalgic-ish cars that put on a great show for the crowd.

It was a great weekend hanging out with some old pals we don’t get to see very often as well as meeting some new ones. Next year if they’ll allow us we’d love to get a small field of Hop Up class cars to run, it’d be great to bring some of the early history back to this event. If you have a pre-53-ish style car that’ll pass tech at a nhra track for the time it’ll run send me an email at with a few pics and info and I’ll see if we can’t talk the officials into giving us a chance to run?


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