Fry, Arend Take Top Honors at 2019 Holley National Hot Rod Reunion

By: Todd Veney | 06/21/2019 < Back to Motor Life Home

The 17th annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion was another rousing success, continuing a long line of spectacular shows at historic Beech Bend Raceway Park in Holley's hometown, Bowling Green, Ky. Hundreds of cars poured in for the weekend, and when the smoke literally cleared, had the big winners were Mendy Fry and Jeff Arend.

Fry, who won the NHRA Nostalgia Top Fuel championship in 2018 and broke the five-and-a-half second barrier earlier this season in Bakersfield, Calif., qualified No. 1 with a 5.54 in the High Speed Motorsports slingshot dragster and defeated Jim Young in the final round in what fittingly was the best race of the long weekend, 5.56 to 5.65. Arend, a four-time winner at the sport's highest level, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, won the Nostalgia Funny Car title with a final-round decision over former series champion Dan Horan, who threw away a strong 5.79 with a red-light start. Arend's California Hustler Trans Am would have been a handful anyway with an even better 5.78, low e.t. of the meet.

Acres of vintage drag racing machinery, classic cars, rat rods, and muscle cars poured in from around the country to fill the sprawling Beech Bend complex. In the Axalta Show 'N Shine, the top 50 cars made a victory lap down the drag strip for all the fans to see, and nine different cars received perfect scores: Eric Bletzinger ('69 Chevy Chevelle), Ray Enos ('31 Ford Roadster), James Emberton ('38 Chevy Coupe), Trint Blue ('49 Chevy Pickup), Donny and Linda Rottler ('49 Chevy Fleetwood), Dennis O'Brien ('41 Studebaker Champion), Rick White ('71 Ford Funny Car), Paul Pyles ('68 Plymouth Road Runner), and Art Noey ('62 Chevy Impala)

The weekend wrapped up, as always, with the popular Cacklefest, where cars were lined up on the drag strip, with flames shooting out the headers of the nitro cars. Before that always emotional showstopper brought Father's Day weekend to a close, trophies were handed out to the other big winners: Rich Krohn (6.0 Eliminator), Jeffrey Sanborn (7.0 Eliminator), Randall Boles (7.5 Eliminator), Dan Dishon (Comp Eliminator) Jim Hayes (Gas Eliminator), Greg Carta (Modified Eliminator), Jimmy Ray (Nostalgia Super Stock Eliminator), George Warren (Top Stock Eliminator), Paul Mitchell (Hot Rod Eliminator), Herman Hill (Straight Axle Eliminator), and Joe Busher (Geezer Gasser Eliminator).

To get a feel for what's like to actually be at the Holley Hot Rod Reunion, check out Tyler Cobb's beautiful photography below. For complete race results, click here.