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The annual March Meet event held each year at Famoso Raceway just outside of Bakersfield, Calif., is right up there with the Winternationals at Pomona and the U.S. Nationals at Indy as an iconic and revered race for drag racers and drag racing fans.
The race has gone through some ups and downs over the years and has been promoted by several people. In recent years the father and son team of John and Blake Bowser have restored the luster to the race and it has become “the race” for nostalgia racers and their fans. Blake runs the famous track and the March Meet.
: You have announced a 32-car funny car eliminator for the 52nd March Meet. What has been the response from the teams and drivers?
Blake Bowser: Everyone is pretty excited about it. My original plan was to run 32 funny cars by pairing them up on Saturday with sixteen winners, then splitting them up into an 8-car A Field and an 8-car B Field, my concern was being able to allow these cars to run in five rounds. I thought that was a lot to ask, but the feedback that I am getting so far from a lot of car owners and drivers is to run it all the way through (without A & B Fields). It entails a bit more money with one more round of racing I need to pay, so I’m out seeking money to support all those cars racing and Chuy’s Mesquite Broiler is already helping us financially with the funny cars at the March Meet this year.
I want to do whatever the racers want and I think the fans will appreciate running all thirty-two cars all the way through; ultimately we are doing this for the fans. So the feedback that I have gotten is to run thirty-two. To be clear, by splitting into A&B Fields means one less round of racing and thirty-two is five rounds of racing, but if you split it into two 16-car fields you save a round.
: But you are only requiring two teams to race the extra round.
BB: Yeah, and that’s what I have been getting from feedback, it is only two cars, so the challenge has been given back to me to find the money. Actually I have got some sponsors who are ready to help with money. I talked with Gary Turner and Cory Lee and they said, “Man, we just want to race and we will have one winner.” If we can do the thirty-two cars straight through, we are going to have just one winner, which is pretty cool too. One team can say, “I am the king of thirty-two cars!”
: Over the years, that is pretty much a tradition at the March Meet.
BB: Yes it is, and we have broken away from that over the past couples of years trying to do the A&B Fields, but out of thirty-two cars there are probably twenty-five or twenty-six that are petty significant cars that can run these races that can go rounds. My logic in running the A&B Fields was to allow these not so well funded, not so established teams to get their feet on the ground, to get running a little bit, to get some round experience, get the experience of running a race and having to get that car ready for the next round. It was at a point that the number one qualifier would take out number sixteen in the first round, but now there are a lot of cars that can run well, that can repeat well.