My First Trip to the March Meet
By Dave Kerr
My friend Chris and I were in our second year of High School in Long Beach California. We had been going to Lions Drag Strip almost every weekend since 1962. Chris's parents would go out to Lions also from time to time. When the Greek was in town, Chris's dad would talk to the Greek about technical stuff of all sorts. We would stand there with our mouths hangin' open because his dad was talking to a living legend.
During the winter of 1964, Chris's Mom said, "I want to take you two to a major Drag Race this year. You two think about it and let me know which race you want to go to." Well that Christmas I got this record album. I believe it was a three record set with the NHRA Winternationals on it plus the AHRA Winternationals and the '63 March Meet. I would play the Hell out of the March Meet, listening to the Voice of John Lundberg calling the races, so we didn't have to think much about which race we wanted to go to. We wanted to go to the MARCH MEET IN BAKERSFIELD.
So on a cool morning in March of '64 we headed out over the Ridge Route to Bakersfield. Before we left we called the motel in town and made reservations. Since we didn't know where the track was, we asked the clerk if she knew where the Drag Strip was located. She told us it was right outside of town. Well we arrived in Bakersfield on Friday afternoon, got our room, and planned to go out to the strip on Saturday morning. In those days, most of the race cars were on open trailers and a lot of the teams stayed at the motels in town.
Chris and I walked down the main street of town that Friday night like a couple of star struck kids in Hollywood for the first time. There were dragsters everywhere and we walked from one end of the main drag to the other. We even passed a little restaurant and saw Ralph Guldahl there eating dinner. Well finally, Saturday morning arrived. We shoved everyone in the car and headed out to the March Meet. Well after about a half-hour we were asking ourselves, "Where the heck is the Drag Strip?"
Finally we saw a race car on a trailer and proceeded to follow it because he had to know where he was going. Well we drove and drove and drove through areas with oil wells on the land, up and over hills, and through fruit orchards. Finally we came over the crest of this hill and I saw something that will stick in my mind for a long time. Way off in the distance I saw what looked like a lot of cars and a whole lot of people.
When we pulled into the parking area I noticed a Hells Angel sleeping in a trash can. As a matter of fact, there were biker gangs everywhere. The bleachers were packed with people and they were two deep around the fences. Well we found a seat at the top of the spectator side of the track and sat back to witness this spectacle unfolding in front of us.
Well Connie Kalitta defeated Big Daddy Don Garlits that year but I didn't care who won. I was in Drag Racing Heaven -- the Woodstock of Drag Racing people would tell us later. That experience will stick in my mind forever. I will still be remembering The March Meet the day I leave this Planet.
Gig Harbor, WA