March Meet Memories
A look back at 50 years of highlights
(Left) The 25th annual March
Meet, held in 1983, featured
some of the best Top Fuel
racers of the day, including
world champion Gary Beck.
The trophy, however, went to
former sand racer Danny
Danell, who upset Shirley
by Kevin McKenna Muldowney in the final round.
requested by Joe Farici Muldowney was appearing in
Collegeville, Pa. her third straight final at the
Bakersfield, Calif., event.
or the last half-century, rural Bakersfield,
F Calif., has been home to one of drag
racing’s most prestigious annual events:
the March Meet. The inaugural March Meet,
(Below) Shortly after a
runner-up at the 1970
Winternationals, Tony Nancy
claimed the Top Fuel crown
created and promoted by the Smokers Car at the March Meet. He won
Club in 1959, was billed as the final round after Harry
the Smokers East Versus Hoblet fouled.
West Challenge with
Florida’s “Big Daddy” Don
Garlits as the featured
attraction. The Smokers
paid Garlits to travel from
Florida to California to
take on the West Coast’s
best fuel racers. In the
end, the final round came
down to a pair of West
Coast entries, Art Carl Olson and Mike Kuhl won numerous titles during their lengthy partnership,
Chrisman’s Hustler and including the 1972 Winternationals and the last drag race at Lions Drag Strip.
Tony Waters’ roadster; Olson also claimed a win in Bakersfield in 1974, running the track’s first five-
Chrisman won the title second e.t. en route to a final-round victory against Nancy.
over the Bakersfield native.
In subsequent years, the event was billed
as the U.S. Fuel & Gas Championships, and it
quickly grew until it became one of the spo