Blake Bowser is passionate about drag racing, particularly drag racing that recreates the straight-line sport's history. 

This passion is why, when Bowser, who runs Famoso Dragstrip in Bakersfield, watched interest waning in the California Hot Rod Reunion (CHRR), he knew he had to do something.

Bowser's "something" will come to fruition in October when he and his track personnel take over the CHRR operations. 

"I don't want to slam NHRA by any means at all, but we just got tired of seeing the downturn," Bowser admitted. 

Those close to the situation will admit that the downturn was caused by rigidity in running the fall event, which led to bad feelings and a lack of interest in those it was supposed to serve. 

"We like to joke that you can't let the inmates run the asylum, but you want to give them a weekend off," Bowser said. That's what we do with the March Meet. We're giving the inmates a weekend off, so let them have some fun. We're not going to let them overtake the house, but we'll let them forget about things. When you walk in that gate, leave all your drama outside, leave whatever's going on. 

"Whatever's going on, walk in those gates and act like it's 1970 all over again. We're going to do our best to act like that, too. We're not going to hit you with a bunch of rules and regulations. We're going to give you some boundaries but we're going to let you have fun and just have a good time, and then Monday morning, go back to reality. So we're going to take that approach for the Reunion, just kind of just have a good time with it."

A large part of the CHRR's decline was due to the alienation of former NHRA official Steve Gibbs and his Cacklefest participants. The divide was so severe that it inspired a new event to play to the original design of the CHRR. The CHRR was never designed to be a race but instead a get-together, a real reunion. 

"We wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for, believe me, Steve can tell you, I bugged him a lot talking about this, and we think I'm going to be able to be the go-between right now," Bowser admitted. "That there's NHRA, there's us, and then there's Steve Gibbs. And Steve's doing great with his show. You've been there, you know. It's a great show. So yeah, we're trying to be the go-between to get NHRA and Steve Gibbs back together a little bit, and we'll see where it goes from there. 



"We're all trying to entertain people. We've got these cars built, and fans want to come see them. So, that Cacklefest was created and grew into an incredible show out there at Bakersfield. We want to resurrect that somehow. It won't be the same as it was. It won't be like that. We're not trying to do that, but we're just trying to give the fans a taste of what used to be here during that event. Different versions of it. We're looking at bringing back some ideas."

Bowser said he and his team want to bring the Ring of Fire back. 

"We're looking at recreating that; we're going to have fire-ups," Bowser said. "But this is all going to be working with Steve. Steve's going to have the cars there, and we're going to be teasing people. If you want to see a bigger, better show of this kind of car, go to Irwindale, make sure you go see this in November. We're just giving you a little taste of what you can see there. So I think that Glenn [Cromwell], Peter [Clifford], and everybody bought into that and is really happy that we're going to be doing that."

The biggest success story that Bowser sees is fences are being mended. 

"I think these Bakersfield events can complement each other, I really do," Bowser said. "Look what Pomona used to do, used to start and stop the series. So we're doing the same thing. We're going to be starting and stopping in the NHRA Heritage Series. There might be a little overlap between our show and Steve's show. We're going to be careful of that. 

"We don't want to recreate; we don't want to do exactly what he does down there. Our challenge is to do some Cackle stuff there that does not take away from what Steve does, but we're giving the fans a little bit of what they expect when they come to the Reunion."

"I think the March Meet and Reunion can complement each other. We can build off of that, and fans can make plans. Look, we're going to start and stop our year, and racers, media, crew members, everybody can make plans. Look, we're going to start and stop the nostalgia season in Bakersfield, so we're good with that.

"For me, I'm working year-round on two drag races now. Where before, I would take a little break on March Meet about three months out of the year. But the rest of the time, I'm working on March Meet about ten months now of my year. So I'm going to cut back a little bit on March Meet time spent, and I'm going to increase, obviously, time spent on Reunion, and I'm going to work year-round on those two events now."