The 53rd Annual March Meet was a time warp that took me back into the history of drag racing and a gathering of wild custom rides from he past.
Initially known as the "Smokers Meet" that was put on by the Smokers Car Club in Bakersfield, California at a landing strip that saw duty during WWII. The landing strip became later known as Fomoso Raceway which is located about 30 miles north of Bakersfield east of Highway 99 in the middle of hundreds of citrus groves. The first major drag racing event to be held at Fomoso was the U.S. Gas and Fuel Championships held in 1959. The event featured the best fuel dragsters of the Pacific coast led by Chris Chrisman driving his Hustler I. Don Garlits from Florida had been making a name for himself driving his Swamp Rat I fuel dragster beating everything on the east coast. To promote the U.S. Gas and Fuel Championships the Smokers paid Garlits a good sum of cash to tow his Swamp Rat I cross country and challenge the best from the west. Garlits wowed the crowd when he rolled Swamp Rat off the trailer and made a 178 mph pass. Garlits was defeated by Chrisman in his Hustler 1 digger in the first round of eliminations. Chrisman went on to win the inaugural event. The U.S. Gas and Fuel Championships name was disband and sold by the Smokers in 1965 to a promoter back east.
Fomoso became officially known as the March Meet in 1967. From 1967 to 1988 the March Meet was run under the direction of various individuals. In 1994 the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association started the Vintage Racing Association and reinstated the March Meet. In 2007 Fomoso president John Bower along with his son and vice president Blake became the promoters of the March Meet as we know it today. Our hats go off the Bowser family for their professional efforts promoting and maintaining this historical strip of speed.
That was a brief history of the March Meet that has become the most prestigious nostalgic drag race on the planet.
After arriving at the sacred grounds of Fomoso Raceway Friday afternoon, I checked in at the media tent and pickup my credentials. Then I made my way to the media trailer located in the pits where I hooked up with Rob Gibson and received my valuable starting line credential. That gold wristband allowed me to capture some insane drag racing action.
During the March Meet a Show & Shine was held in "The Grove" which is locate behind the tower side bleachers. The Grove attracted hundreds of wild trucks, rods, customs, led sleds, and rat rods. Thousands of spectators strolled through the rows of unique colorful rides and enjoyed the well attended vendors village where aftermarket manufactures displayed their latest speed performance hardware. After the show trophies and plaques were awarded to the class winners.
Unfortunately the March Meet was postponed Sunday due to rain. Even though the event was cut a day short, it was still an incredible blast back to the past. I can't wait to cruise up old Highway 99 to attend next years March Meet.