They gathered Thursday amongst the smoke from the fire-spewing vehicles that roared at full throttle down the track at the Auto Club Raceway at Fairplex.
Top Fuel dragsters and Fuel Funny cars as well as Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycles were among those that took part in the time trials for the National Hot Rod Association finals.
The carnival-like atmosphere - complete with fried foods, beer gardens, remote control car racing and more - easily appealed to attendees of all ages.
"I take this entire week off from work every year just for this event," said Bruce Jorgenson, 39, of Pomona.
"I can have a beer and watch the races and at the same time I can take my kids to see all the new cars driven by some familiar faces."
For some, the races bring back fond memories of their childhood.
"I grew up going to the Riverside raceway in Moreno Valley to watch stock cars run the track," said Harrison Williams, 68, of Pomona.
"I use to be a big Darrell Waltrip fan, but when they closed the track to build homes, local racing disappeared."
The racing at Fairplex brings that back for all of the old-timers that love the feel of the power from "hardcore racing," Williams said.
But some youngsters also joined Williams on Thursday. It was the first time that Williams was able to bring his son as well as his grandson to the track.
"My son has been gone overseas in the Army for the last six years and today he's here with me," he said.
"There are three generations of Williams here and it's my grandson's first time at a race."
Doug Williams was stationed in Germany and has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan three times in six years.
"I'm able to spend time with both of my heroes this week,"
Races set for NHRA finals
Top Fuel Dragster
Fuel Funny Car
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Top Alcohol Dragster
Top Alcohol Funny Car
"They spent a lot of time together when I was deployed and Doug Jr. learned everything about the NHRA from his grandfather."
Williams is scheduled to re-deploy early next year.
"This time is more precious to me than anything monetary," he said.
Justin Langer said he skipped work to go to the races.
"I have been a fan of all motor sports since I was 12. I took the day off to watch the drags, drink some beer and have a fun day with my girlfriend," said Langer,of 26, from San Bernardino.
Joseph Daniels, who was clad in an old Brooks and Dunn T-shirt and sporting a black cowboy hat, spoke passionately about the motor
"I consider the races a part of American history along with apple pie and Mother Goose," said Daniels, 56, of Pomona.
The rain soon appeared Thursday shutting the track down before the time trials were completed, but that didn't stop fans from continuing to enjoy the festivities and create recollections that won't soon leave.
"We're going to have a beer and a braut and pray the rain stops," Harrison Williams said.
"And if it doesn't, at least my grandson will have memories of this day that will last an eternity."