That time of year, the California Hot Rod Reunion. I missed last year and kicked myself in the ass for it until we landed in Los Angeles this year. It's the time to meet old friends and new, catch up on things and peer into the past....except when you are getting ready to walk into the men’s room at Outback Steakhouse in Burbank. The call went something like this:
“Hey, good thing you didn't bring the Hippo."
"Why do you say that?
“Because as soon as we went through tech, they told us no fire-ups in the pits for the cackle cars."
“Well, I'll be damned."
" I'll fill you in when they have the meeting at 4."
We arrived about an hour or so later and sought out our people and getting the lowdown. The landscape changed numerous times over the next 24 hours. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of unhappy people, I don't blame them, some were part of the reason I made the trip.
When I decided not to make the push to rush the finishing of the Hippo (another story altogether), I shifted my focus to seeing the people and the cars I missed last year. When we pulled onto the property, a few of the people I wanted to see had left, or worse, were escorted off the property. What a pisser. These guys aren't getting any younger and each year brings the absence of more of the old-timers. We can't afford the discord and early exits. Simply put and I want you to think on this for a second, what is the name of the event. . . "Reunion”.
When people leave shortly after arriving or don't bother to even show up. . .do you see my point?
I suppose by the end of the event the cackle in the pits was "allowed" to happen. According to some sources, highly placed members of the event sponsorship and track had made note of their wishes. I don't know how much credence to give this one, but I was told the matter of fact statement was by morning their name and any trace of it would be removed. Take it for what it is worth. By the time the dust had settled, the powers that be retreated or gave up in fear. If you were an NHRA official, you probably watched your back and slept with one eye open.
Please keep in mind, these are solely my opinions and observations. I'm not calling anyone out nor am I capable of solving the problems of the cackle world, just another mouth in the mix. What struck me about the event this year, I had fun.
I made a pact with myself to leave all the craziness of my real life at the door when I locked my shop Wednesday night before leaving. THIS is a huge task to undertake, I am not the type to suffer anything gladly. I have acquired a disdain for flying, though I have done plenty, I like it less with each trip.
We hung out with the boys from England, as we do every year, doing what we traditionally do. My initiation into "real" accommodations. . .The Vagabond. No Doubletree this time around. I have to say it was pretty cool for the most part. Breakfast and dinner at Milt's, wasn't too bad.
My twelve year old son came along this year. If you know me from social media, you know who Spencer is. Many times throughout each day someone would come up and ask," Are you Eddie?" I'd confirm their suspicions and they would immediately look at Spence and say, '. . .and I know who you are!" By the time we left, I swear he needed an agent!
In spite of the drama surrounding the cackle issues, the racing was fantastic. The Buckersfield tent went up in the stands at the 1,000 foot mark and the usual suspects filed in and out. A few stayed throughout the weekend and it was great to see them all. There are certain people that have to be seen before I can feel settled in, with the exception of one or two, all was well.
I think I spent more time in the stands this year than the last three combined. Mayhem best described the population of the grounds. I don't think I have ever seen so many camping trailers and RV's in my life. Now, this is where we return to the drama part and a bit of criticism.
Perhaps the aforementioned mayhem may have been a bit less so had they not let go of the one person, and his dog, who handled the situation from the beginning. The presence of shirts and decals in favor of the pair was evident everywhere you turned.
I had bought a swap meet entry in order to park inside the grounds in my miniscule rent-a-turd. Each day, upon entry, we would have to park further back because of all the RVs. I didn't mind really, the walk wasn't that bad. But each day, I was surprised to arrive back at the turd and be boxed in by more arrivals.
Maybe a bit of planning should be considered before next year’s event. Designate some space to allow for a little more room.
Here's my bitch. . .golf carts. The tightness of the confines, coupled with renegade spectators not negotiating the paths in the most efficient manner, makes for some pretty dicey conditions. Pit crews and racers, old timers and immobile... sure, it is an essential part of movement. I'm not without sin here.
The first few times I attended, I rented a cart and buzzed around the place. Even being on a cart though, it got a little precarious. I found myself uttering epithets at those who were walking. There came a point where I took into consideration that I was blowing $300 bucks for the cart plus the aggravation of parking the damn thing. Then there was what I was missing when driving by with a quick glance. It’s not the same as hoofing it around the joint and getting a closer look. No offense to anyone who rents one, it's your money and your prerogative.
I kind of lean towards what the 75 year-old guy said to me Friday morning, " If you ain’t crippled, why the hell have one." He also said something about lard asses, but that is the extent of that quote fit to print. Here again, putting two and two together, it speaks to the possible lack of preparedness the erstwhile Geno possessed. When there are people who are no-nonsense types, who can handle people and situations judiciously, their value far outweighs their cost.