March Meet Memories
by Craig Fingrz Mullan
By the time this goes to print, the 56th Annual March Meet will have been and gone.
This time of year brings back the greatest memories, as we not only attended the 53rd March Meet, we entered it with our newly acquired altered, Nitro Ape.
A long time ambition was finally realised when the altered gods blessed me with the chance to run at a Track and a Meeting that Kiwis migrate to, year after year.
The California Hot Rod Reunion and The March Meet are, in the eyes of Kiwi drag fans, the Mecca of drag racing. The history, the people, and the grass roots attitudes still intact.
My very first trip to the famed Autoclub Famoso Raceway left me in total awe. Not knowing which way to look or what to look at first.
The one thing that sticks in my mind from the sensory overload, was a little fuel roadster called Revelation, owned by the one and only Stormy Byrd. I have since become good friends with Stormy and I wonder if he remembers our first meeting. It was a stinking hot day (Bakersfield huh ). My partner Andi and I were walking the pits, checking out the fine machinery. Standing looking at this cool little roadster, a voice says “It sure is hot out there, would you like a drink”?
We began chatting, and Stormys’ hospitality was never ending, something I have not forgotten to this day. He even asked if I would like to sit in his roadster. I jumped at the chance, but being a shade bigger than Stormy, there were parts of me that just would not get in there.
The plan to run at the MM, came about when I had seen the Nitro Ape altered at the 2010 Mooneyes Xmas party. I spoke with the owner Sparky Horaczko, and he cackled the car with Andi in it, as it was rained out for racing. Just after returning home, I noticed the altered had come up for sale. I already had a 105” BBC powered bantam in NZ and I managed to find a new home for that so I could purchase Nitro Ape.
It all happened so fast. Many emails were bounced around to do everything required for the paperwork to obtain my NHRA licence.
We flew in to LA 3 weeks prior to MM, with a plan to pick up the altered from Bobby Cottrell, who had given it a once over to ready it for me. With the help of a good friend of ours and NHRA nitro funny car driver Grant Downing, we picked the car up and headed to Bakersfield to do our licence runs.
Grant and many others thought we were nuts to buy and pick up a car on Friday and race it on Saturday. But, thanks to Grant, we did 6 licence passes with a new PB of 8.64 to obtain my NHRA licence. I’ll always remember the emotion as I rolled through the waterbox for the first time at the infamous Bakersfield Famoso Raceway – I never thought I would have the honour and here I was!
Outside NHRA with license
We celebrated in the obligatory Kiwi style with far too much beer and pizza.
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