03/22/12 04:36 PM


Bakersfield Breakfast


Kris and John, and Gale, and Jill and...


Richard L. Railton© 5.4 06

"Dragging through a Knothole"

The group of us were standing in the parking lot of the Caravan Inn in beautiful downtown Bakersfield.  Beautiful downtown Bakersfield is probably a classic contradiction in terms, but there we were.  At this point standing was a contradiction in terms. 

But to expect great acrobatics after spending the evening in a cocktail lounge is asking for disappointment anyhow..

We decided to convene in a cocktail lounge after a hard day of drag racing at Fomosa drag strip. 

And we all know how thirsty a day of serious competitive drag racing makes one.   

And even though we were primarily involved in qualifying for the event, it still justifies a cocktail or two. 

Drag racing is very serious and hard work.  And we had been so intensely trying to squeeze the last drop of horsepower out of a fuel-burning 392 Chrysler without forfeiting its internal organs.

So the discussion for the first couple of hours deal with what to run, how to run it, why, who says, and everyone had their own "hot ticket" to run the big numbers.  Of course no one was giving away any of their supersecret, individual tricks to what might be your competition tomorrow. Competition after all is competition.

So after the usual round of dirty jokes, new lies, old rumors, new gossip the conversation dropped into a discussion of "lean the barrel two flats, make a pass, and read the plugs. And watch out that you don't “hop” yourself right out of competition.


After a certain amount of time tuneups, timing lead, valve lash, gear ratio, tire size, tire pressure, and rollout track conditions, etc. gives way to old classic jokes, who's sleeping with who, what happened to ol' what's his name" etc. etc. and who's got a hot ticket to sponsors the talking drops off to a moderate drone.

In accordance with California's rather provincial look at alcohol (bourbon not methanol mind you!) consumption, at the tolling of the two o'clock bell all the participants in the aforementioned highly technical conversation are asked to vacate the premises. 

Not perhaps that the world of physical science & physics was going to miss the scientific breakthroughs that came from this highly technical conversation, but it was indeed rude of the bar tender to ended so abruptly.

As the shares emptied of their former occupants it looked like a class picture of the Who's Who of top fuel drag racing.

The Sour Sisters, The Dead End Kids, the verbal game filed out into the parking-lot like a

We found ourselves waiting for a way to get to the local coffee shop/restaurant that would be ready to serve an unruly crowd of less than sober racers in various forms of alcoholic disrepair.  (This is sometimes a critical logistics problem!)As we stood in the parking lot discussing the evenings on goings, "short-pour" the Scottish bartender, And Brandi the long-awaited long legged cocktail waitress whose combination of Bakersfield cowboy chic and homegrown good looks made for a pleasant pictorial to counter Short Pour's thriftiness with the bourbon bottle 

Karmasenes said not to worry because John Cranenberg, his old friend and push-truck driver, a dragster pilot of note himself, was on the job and would bring back our transportation shortly.  So we went back to discussing Short Pour and in estimating the distance between Brandi's skirt hem and the ballroom floor.

In a relatively timely fashion, up through the haze came a very sedate four-door sedan with John Cranenberg at the wheel.  As he pulled the conservative appearing town car to a stop he leaned across the front seat to open the passenger-side door and motioned for us to get in. So "the wrecking crew": "the boys", and the female contingent: Gale & Jill Grove climbed aboard.

A4-door town car was just what we needed.  Between Pete, Gale, Paul, Kay Kris and John and the loaded clothing bar that hung between the stock apparel clips it would've justified a Greyhound bus.  But not to worry we were just going to breakfast.

Once loaded we started out to find a breakfast joint of one type or another.  As we motored through the avenues of beautiful downtown Bakersfield, Gale remarked that John had done well in choosing a comfortable car with which to take us to breakfast.  A nice thought she said, in that typical drag racing fare would be a pickup truck or some other vehicle not so convenient.

In the ongoing polite conversation, Gale innocently posed the question: John, where are you going to wear all these nice three-piece suits?"     Thinking that perhaps he had an appointment with sponsors or something. 

Because three-piece suits would be a bit of "overkill" in the pits at a drag race.      

John's answer should've shocked nobody when he said, "they came with the car."  

Gale, a pleasant and polite person by nature, continued the conversation with "where'd you come up with such a nice car?"  

Thinking that the car was part of a sponsorship deal of one sort or another. Automotive dealers while sponsoring racecar in certain venues "sweeten the pot" with the extended loan of an example of their inventory.   One of the benefits of a good relationship with your sponsors!

John's reply was, although casually and calmly excepted, more than a little revealing.  "Out of the parking lot."

Gale's interest piqued, she repeated the question only to get the same answer.

"Let me get this straight, this is not your car, it was just sitting in the parking lot?"  She said hoping for a different answer to her previous question.  John seemingly without much concern, said "oh hell!  We're just taking it to breakfast!    

I'll fill the tank when we get back." "The owner will never wear those suits tonight anyhow!"

There was no use in trying to convince John of the magnitude of his action.  He was convinced that without intent of doing anything more than breakfast, borrowing someone's car was not as serious as one would think.  Whether they were aware of it or not.

It seemed a logical conclusion! The local authorities might differ, but after all this was drag racing, and this was the March Meet.

So we went into the best looking breakfast place that we could find, ordered breakfast, (steak and eggs, if memory serves?)  drank enough coffee to float the Queen Mary and tried to rebuild our constitutions for tomorrow's day of drag racing.

It was a very hardy and very nervous meal.



This site was last updated 03/22/12 04:36 PM