In the realm of country music, there’s something known as “The Bakersfield Sound.” Popularized in the 1950s, these gritty-sounding tunes were born in the California agricultural town’s rough-and-tumble bars. A reaction to the polished music coming out of Nashville, the Bakersfield Sound was part nostalgia, part rock n’ roll, and wild as hell.
On April 29 and 30, the Bakersfield Sound was a different type of music. Tappets clicking, side pipes thumping, and starters whirring harmonized in a cacophony British backbeat at Buttonwillow Raceway, home of the 2006 VARA Moss Motors British Extravaganza. Organized by the Vintage Auto Racing Association and Moss, the event is a car show, road race, social gathering and charity function all rolled into one.
An exhibition of pre-WWII racecars delighted spectators with the sights and sounds of three-wheeled Morgans and early Jags, and the Saturday afternoon slalom gave event participants a chance to prove their mettle against some seriously scarred orange cones. The car show was well stocked with British rides of all kinds, from modern Minis to original-owner MGS, and even a few rarities like Garrison Bielen’s best-in-show winning 1938 Rolls Royce. Garrison and his wife even braved the Central California heat in full period attire.
Saturday evening the racetrack played host to a massive candlelight barbecue, complete with karaoke and plenty of libations. Those who weren’t in too much pain Sunday morning were
treated to the sights and sounds of countless classic cars—British and otherwise—taking to
the road course for some tough vintage racing action. Best of all, proceeds from the event were
donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Visalia, and a Speed Channel TV crew was on hand to document the weekend.
Overall a good time was had by all, and most of the participants promised to come back in 2007 for another perfect weekend of storytelling, on-track exhilaration, good food, and great friends.