The 60th Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet is set to kick off a four-day run Thursday at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, but a good number of racers were getting a jump start Wednesday during an open test session at the track.
More than 500 drivers have entered the event, including more than 50 in four supercharged nitromethane classes: Funny Car, front-engine Top Fuel, AA/Fuel Altered and rear-engine Top Fuel. Qualifying for those divisions is set to start Friday, but drivers can make a test run Thursday afternoon. Qualifying and time trials in all other classes begin Thursday morning.
While Wednesday was a bright sunny day, weather is likely to play a role in the in the race for the second straight year as rain is predicted to begin late Thursday afternoon with showers continuing into Saturday.
As has been the case in past years with unsettled weather, track officials will try to get in as much racing as possible each day.
New to the event this year is the introduction of an eight-car Classic Funny Car field in addition to the regular 16-car Funny Car field. Cars with older-style more “traditional” Funny Car bodies can compete in the “classic” class on a 5.90-second index rather than trying to break the bank (and lots of parts) by trying to keep up with the 5.60s or 5.50s of the heavy hitters such as last year’s winner Ryan Hodgson or 2017 California Hot Rod winner Bobby Cottrell.
Both Cottrell and Hodgson will be among a large Funny Car contingent along with CHRR runner-up Matt Bynum, Jeff Arend, Steven Densham, Jason Rupert, Brad Thompson, Paul Romaine and Dan Horan Jr.
Horan will be pulling double duty as he will also be driving the front-engined Top Fuel dragster of his father, who died last year.
On the Top Fuel side, 2107 champion Mendy Fry will be looking to make it two straight, Jim Murphy will be gunning for his fifth win and Adam Sorokin will be trying for his first win since 2010.
Speedway set to open Saturday
Bakersfield Speedway is set to open its 72nd consecutive season of operation on Saturday, weather permitting, said owner track Scott Schweitzer.
“It’s about normal, the weather has been great and we’re about to fire off the racing season and now it doesn’t look real good,” Schweitzer said. “The way Bakersfield is and the weather pattern you really never know what will happen. We’re preparing and getting ready to go but I really won’t know until Saturday morning.”
Western RaceSaver Winged Sprint Cars, Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks and American Stocks are set to be in action on opening night.
The track was open for testing last Saturday night and Schweitzer said 81 drivers took to the third-mile clay oval in a variety of classes.
“It was a fantastic turnout for an open practice,” he said. “We saw some new faces, new people in new divisions. I’m excited to see what the new season brings.”
Outlaw karts at BKE
The final race in the Winter Series for Open Outlaw Karts takes place on Friday night at Bakersfield Karting Experience. Brad Pounds, who won the opening race in the series, finished third last Friday night and holds the series points lead. Tate Sanders won last Friday and is the only repeat winner. Ethan Dotson and Tim Randolph also have wins. Racing starts at 7.