What the CHRR Means to Me
By Pat Foster
[The NHRA has just announced that the 11th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion will take place at Bakersfield Raceway on October 4, 5, and 6, 2002. We went back into our files and pulled out this Pat Foster piece written just before the 2001 race in which the veteran driver/builder/tuner describes his feelings about the event. bp]
Very few racers are able to walk away from auto racing without a glance over their shoulders. For me, the Cacklefest is a great showcase for my work and that is all it is, until I get there, work. I'm fortunate to be able to make a living doing what I love to do.
When Friday the 5th rolls around it's a whole new ball game. Then it's the people, friends that perhaps I've not seen in 35 years, new friends, heroes, long forgotten names and faces, race talk, family talk, sore throat from tellin' lies, etc. For the younger folks here, you have no idea what it's like to go back 30-40 years and see and be with your peers and heroes. When I see The Greek the memories come flooding back -- the two summers my family and I stayed with him and Marion and his kids and mine played in the hydrants in front of his house. Driving his race car -- the Fuller Funny Car -- a short stint, Greek town, his boat, and on and on. It's the same with many, many others. I cry, I laugh, I laugh some more. It's only Friday, remember. Arriving at the "Patch," just arriving, starts a whole new roller coaster of memories, mostly fond ones. You pull in and then it's the cars, all of 'em, from the rat rods to the newstalgia fuel cars, and more friends.
Being lucky enough to be involved in a part of the recreation/restoration deal is very satisfying. To see the tears stream down Chops face upon his first real look at his ol' hound was something I'll never forget, ever. The Cacklefest is quite a deal for those who weren't around during the era, but for those of us who were, it is more than a glance over your shoulder at what you did... I'm a tough old bird, but I stood there and cried like a baby last year. I won't have as good a seat this year as last and perhaps won't be as overwhelmed but you can bet your ass I'll be a happy man.
I hope the folks who ran the "Grenade" show up this year as they will step into a time warp that'll hit `em hard. None of them continued to race for many years and don't seem too excited about the restoration. But let 'em see that thing on the fire up lane, coming back to life after 32 years and I'll dare `em to not have a lump in their throats and a tear on their cheeks.
I've just barely touched on my feelings about the CHRR...