In a vain attempt to join Jalopnik stringer Bumbeck at Famoso Raceway yesterday morning for Day 2 of the California Hot Rod Reunion, yours truly loaded up the Chrysler with camera gear, sundry recording devices, the Fall box set, and a hot thermos of 80 weight Cafe Bustello. Ahhh.... the Cali Hot Rod Reunion, where period-perfect dragsters of antediluvian design and origins get up on the tire and blister the hides down the length of the quarter-mile.
Yes: It was to be a shimmering jaunt from the center of Los Angeles to a half-forgotten drag strip 15 miles north of Bakersfield over a stretch of Interstate 5 that locals colloquially call "the Ridge Route," a mountain pass that climbs out of the San Fernando Valley and bridges the City of Angels and the dusty kicked-shit of Kern County.
Ironically, in an agrarian landscape where rain is for rent and irrigation from the California aqueduct germinates the orange groves, Top Fuel qualifying was washed out the night before, so today was the day to absorb copious amounts of nitromethane burning and billowing through vintage-styled aluminum combustion chambers.
While loading up the car CNN was on in the background, and I had processed — and then ignored — reports of a fiery multi-big rig collision that had transpired late last night somewhere between Vasquez Rocks and Magic Mountain, more specifically at the junction of the 14 and 5 freeways .