Family atmosphere, fierce competition perfect combo for Drew Austin at California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California
GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 5, 2017) – After finishing second in A/Fuel the past two seasons, Drew Austin hopes the third year is a charm when it comes to wining his first Hot Rod Heritage championship. To do so, he’ll have to outperform points leader Kin Bates at the 26th annual California Hot Rod Reunion® presented by Automobile Club of Southern California, Oct. 20-22 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif.
The weekend will be about much more than just racing for the 24-year-old Austin, who is the son of legendary driver Pat Austin. The California Hot Rod Reunion provides the perfect setting for Drew to compete with friends and family, which also includes pitting next to his uncle, Bucky Austin, and taking part in a memorable experience that is unlike any other event.
“We’re all together and we have a good time,” Austin said. “It’s actually like a vacation because you’re having such a good time. It’s such a big event, celebrating the NHRA and its history, and it’s really cool to see my dad reunite with his friends. You get to go there, enjoy everybody’s company and have a lot of fun. It’s a really cool race, the fans are exceptional and everyone involved has a good time. But when the car comes out, I’m focused on it and nothing else.”
That’s a focus he learned from his famous father, who was voted No. 13 on NHRA’s top 50 drivers list in 2001. With 75 career victories, four national championships and bevy of other accomplishments, Pat Austin carved out one of the most impressive careers in NHRA history. But that vast array of knowledge has paid incredible dividends for Drew as well.
He has watched his father for years, picking up lessons, asking questions and trying to prepare himself the best he can when he made his A/Fuel debut at the California Hot Rod Reunion in 2014. Drew Austin has made rapid improvements since then, in part because of what he learned watching his father for a number of years.
“I always watched how he carried himself, when he got focused,” Austin said. “When that car came out of the trailer, he’s so focused and into the car nothing can take his mind off it. That’s how I’ve tried to prepare myself. In my opinion, he’s the best person to have ever driven a car, just by the way he carries himself. So when that car fires up, I’m all in and there’s nothing else on your mind. Everything happens so fast, you don’t have time to think and then react.”
Austin’s skills have been evident the past three seasons, winning multiple races in that span. But a championship has always eluded him, finishing second to Bates each of the last two years. Austin hopes this year will be different, but he knows it will be a challenge to get past the ultra-successful Bates, who currently has a 19-point lead. The good news for Austin is the supreme confidence he has in a team that is enjoying their third year together. That family-like atmosphere is evident, another reason the California Hot Rod Reunion is a thrill for him.
“After Tulsa, me and my dad tore the whole car apart and put together a gameplan for the Hot Rod Reunion, so we feel good,” Austin said. “I’m learning more every time I go out, but I still consider myself really green in the racing community. The crew, everybody knows their roles, and that’s a big deal. We’ve got really good camaraderie on this team and we all get along really well. We’ve got a good idea of what it takes to win, so hopefully we can win the race and win a championship.”
The action-packed weekend provides drag racing fans with nostalgia quarter-mile nitro racing and a full display of California hot rod culture. During the weekend 12 categories will be contested including Top Fuel, Funny Car, AA/Fuel Altered, A/Fuel, Junior Fuel, 7.0 Pro, Nostalgia Eliminator, and A/Gas will all be competing under NHRA Heritage Series Rules during the final race of the 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Drag Racing Series season. Also taking to the quarter mile will be the A/FX, AA/Gas Super Stock, Sportsman Exhibition, and Geezer Gassers.
Saturday evening will also feature the famous Cacklefest® which originated with the 2000 California Hot Rod Reunion and will continue to feature the crowd-pleasing push starts and display of dozens of nitro-burning machines of the past. For this season the Cacklefest® will return to a format familiar to the fans and participants. Adding to the excitement, the California event will include the popular exhibition push starts throughout each day that were part of previous events. Wide ranging facility improvements, including new barriers along the return road, will benefit all participants and allow for push starts to take place in front of the fans during the Cacklefest®.
The Hot Rod Reunions are a series of events produced by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. The events are part of the museum’s “living history” philosophy, which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture. Proceeds from the Hot Rod Reunions benefit the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.
Tickets may be purchased before October 9th at a discount price of $65 for a three-day pass or $25 for a single day. AAA Members save even more! Children 15 and under are free with a paid adult. For more information visit www.nhramuseum.org and click on ‘Reunions’ or to purchase tickets call 1-800-884-NHRA or online at: NHRA.com/hotrodreunion.