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NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Seattle and the Fallnationals: A history of drama, intrigue, and points battles

Today it hosts the Northwest Nationals, but for six years in the late 1970s, Pacific Raceways (then known as Seattle International Raceway) was home to the Fallnationals, an exciting and often pivotal event in the season championship battles.
12 Jul 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
FallNationals
At this time next week, I’ll be at Pacific Raceways outside of Seattle at what remains one of my favorite national events. Today it’s called the Northwest Nationals and has been part of the NHRA national event schedule since 1988, when it initially…
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Garlits went 'Big' in Indy in 1964 for first of eight U.S. Nationals victories

Don Garlits scored the first of eight NHRA U.S. Nationals Top Fuel wins in 1964, the first year that the class was contested in Indy. It was the end of a wild year and a wild race for "Big Daddy."
05 Jul 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Garlits
As we build up towards the massive celebration that will be the 70th running of the famed NHRA U.S. Nationals, we’re looking back at some of the great performances and Indy dominations, starting with the 1960s, and you can’t talk about Indy in…
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When Garlits calls ...

“Big Daddy” Don Garlits is a legend in the drag racing world and even though he long ago hung up his famous black racing helmet, the 92-year-old icon still has plenty to talk about.
14 Jun 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Garlits
I was lying in bed Wednesday morning, checking email on my phone in preparation for another busy day, when an incoming call took over the screen. It was Don Garlits, and when Don Garlits calls, you answer. “Big Daddy” is a legend in the drag…
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Historic photos of (P)interest

Most of us can’t get enough of drag racing photos in general and historic photos in specific. Here's a look at some interesting images from our sport's past and the stories behind them.
24 May 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
If you’re like me — and I’m betting a lot of you are — you can’t get enough of drag racing photos in general and historic photos in specific. Heaven knows I've been through NHRA's immense digital library hundreds of times, obsessing over the…
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Reborn on the Bayou

NHRA national event racing returned to Louisiana last weekend with the running of the Laris Motorsports Insurance NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals at No Problem Raceway, but for 15 years in the 1970s and '80s, the NHRA Cajun Nationals was the state's biggest drag race.
10 May 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Cajuns
NHRA national event racing returned to Louisiana last weekend with the running of the Laris Motorsports Insurance NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals at No Problem Raceway, where hundreds of racers enjoyed the hospitality of co-track owners Nelson and…
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A look at NHRA's all-time win streaks

Tony Schumacher. Don Prudhomme. Bob Glidden. Dave Schultz. Four legendary NHRA racers who hold four legendary winning streaks, marks that are being challenged in 2024 by Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Gaige Herrera. Here's a look at how those streaks were assembled.
03 May 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
A look at NHRA's all-time winning streaks
Gaige Herrera’s Pro Stock Motorcycle win at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte was his seventh straight victory in the class, putting him in the elite company of Don Prudhomme and Tony Schumacher, who marched their respective Army-backed race…
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Remembering Larry Dixon Sr.

From Southern California street-racing legend to early-dragster hero to Winternationals-winning Top Fuel driver, Larry Dixon Sr. led a charmed life surrounded by fast cars. This is his story.
19 Apr 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Larry Dixon Sr.
In NHRA annals, the photo is pretty iconic. Larry Dixon Sr. is smiling in the Pomona winner’s circle in 1970, clutching his NHRA Winternationals Top Fuel Wally in one hand and 3-year-old son Larry Jr. in the other, and the towheaded little tyke…
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An all-star turnout as friends and family celebrated the life of Roland Leong

On the Thursday before the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, nearly 500 friends, family, and hot-rodding compatriots of legendary car owner and tuner Roland Leong gathered at the Lions Automobilia Foundation and Museum in Southern California for a celebration of his life.
29 Mar 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Roland Leong Celebration of Life
It’s a sad but real truism that you'll probably never really know just how appreciative people are of your efforts and friendship or how deeply you're admired until you’ve left us, because we all invariably forget to say those things before it's…
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The Chrisman family photo album

The Chrisman family has been a part of the Southern California landscape since before the Winternationals were a thing. The family has opened its scrapbook for us to take a look back at the incredible legacy that continues to this day.
15 Mar 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Chrisman family photo album
Over its long existence, NHRA Drag Racing has witnessed the rise of many racers who can truly be called the superstars or legends of the sport, and Jack Chrisman is one of them about whom more recent fans might not know, but he was arguably one of…
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Florida's first NHRA 'national event' was the Winter Nationals? Yep (sorta)

Ten years before the Gatornationals brought NHRA national event racing to Florida, NHRA partnered with NASCAR to create a test event, dubbed "the Winter Nationals," during NASCAR Speedweek in Daytona in 1960.
01 Mar 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Winter Nationals
Any hardcore NHRA Drag Racing fan can probably tell you that NHRA debuted the famed Winternationals name in 1961 in Pomona, Calif., and the equally historic Gatornationals came to Gainesville, Fla., in 1970, but what fewer may know is that the…
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Fifty years ago, Pro-class stars were also being made at divisional events

Fifty years ago, there were only seven national events on the schedule, but fans across the country saw great action on the divisional level where Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock competed at 28 additional events. Here’s a look back at some of those 1974 heroes.
23 Feb 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1974
When you look back 50 years ago at the 1974 national event schedule, as we did here a few weeks ago, there were just seven events on the calendar, a far…
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Gainesville Raceway through the years

Three weeks from now we’ll be at Gainesville Raceway for the kickoff of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series as we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the famed Gatornationals. Here’s a look back at the ever-changing face of Gainesville Raceway over the years.
16 Feb 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Gainesville Raceway
Three weeks from now we’ll be at Gainesville Raceway for the kickoff of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series as we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the famed Gatornationals. Gainesville has been hosting the event since its…
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‘Have helmet will travel’: The story of versatile wheelman Gary Southern

Gary Southern, who will be posthumously inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame next month, could drive anything. In a racing career that spanned nearly 30 years, he drove what he estimated was more than 70 cars in many of the sport's top classes.
09 Feb 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Gary Southern
Next month, Don Garlits’ International Drag Racing Hall of Fame will induct its newest members, and sadly, two of them who were alive when they were notified of their honors won’t be there to accept them. One is Walt Austin, who was to be…
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50 years ago: A look back at the highlights from the 1974 NHRA season

Step into the Dragster Insider Wayback Machine, set the dials for 50 years ago, and return to the 1974 NHRA season for a look back at how things were, including the schedule, performance markers, and big moments on and off the track.
31 Jan 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1974 NHRA season
As I’ve done the last three years, it’s time once again to step into the Dragster Insider Wayback Machine and set the dials for 50 years ago and a return to the 1974 NHRA season. Once again, I’ll take a look back at the way things were, including…
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A fond farewell to Parks Tower

With the recent demolition of the famed Parks Tower at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, the NHRA U.S. Nationals lost a part of a four-decade landscape, but the memories will remain.
19 Jan 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
A fond farewell to Parks Tower
Imagine driving onto the block where you grew up and discovering that the house in which you grew up was gone. That’s going to be a bit of the feeling for me when I pull into Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park later this year and see the Parks…
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The big book of drivers who wheeled Roland Leong’s Hawaiian entries

Over the course of a long career as an NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car team owner, Roland Leong was one of the sport’s most successful car owners, but he also hired, fired, replaced, or lost more than 20 drivers over that span. Here's the stories behind each.
12 Jan 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The big book of drivers who wheeled Roland Leong’s Hawaiian entries
As you've read from me the last couple of weeks, and from tributes I've posted from some of the stars of our sport, there's no way to over-report on the importance of Roland Leong…
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A final 'aloha' to 'the Hawaiian'

We lost Roland Leong, the irrepressible owner of the “Hawaiian” line of Top Fuelers and Funny Cars, last week, and his friends, former drivers, and more shared their thoughts about the man and their experiences with him.
05 Jan 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Roland Leong
Roland Leong, the irrepressible owner of the “Hawaiian” line of Top Fuelers and Funny Cars, was a part of our drag racing world for seven decades before his passing just after Christmas, and if you were a fan of any kind of racing in that span,…
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Twas the days before Christmas ...

Reimagining a Christmas staple, with a little help from the legends.
22 Dec 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Mxas
Note to my readers: I wrote the column below last week, before the passings earlier this week of Don Schumacher and Paula Murphy. Their losses to the sport and what they brought to the sport cannot be understated. I had the pleasure…
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An ode to the front-engined Top Fueler, and to the family ties that bind us

The front-engined Top Fuel dragster is such an iconic piece of drag racing lore and still romanticized by those who drove them and continue to drive them, and a way to never forget our past.
15 Dec 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
An ode to the front-engined Top Fueler
The book landed on my desk with a giant thunk, the kind of thunk that nearly 700 pages of book makes. Racing Through Life, the Autobiography of Carl V. Olson. There, grinning at me from the cover, was a young but instantly…
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The 10: Don Prudhomme

The second installment of a new feature, chronicling the 10 greatest career moments of some of NHRA's greatest racers. This week, it's legendary Top Fuel/Funny Car owner/driver Don "the Snake" Prudhomme.
01 Dec 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Prudhomme
Last week I compared some of the great individual seasons in NHRA’s recent history with the 1976 season of Don “the Snake”…
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Comparing great seasons: Force vs. Anderson vs. Schumacher vs. Herrera vs. 'Snake'

Gaige Herrera's championship-winning season in Pro Stock Motorcycle was the best in class history, but how does it stack up against the other by-class greats, including Don Prudhomme's amazing 1976 Funny Car season? Let's find out.
24 Nov 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Great seasons
  Newly crowned Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Gaige Herrera had a season for the ages, scoring 11 times in 15 events to set a new class record and also set another record for most No. 1 qualifying efforts (14 of 15) that will go in the…
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A look back at some thrilling winner-take-all championship-winning final rounds

Just five times in 91 Professional-class racing has the final round of the season finale been a winner-take-all for the championship, including Top Fuel at last weekend's In-N-Out Burger 91 Finals. Here's a look back at those five nailbiters.
17 Nov 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Winner-take-all championship-winning final rounds
Drag racing, by its very nature, is a series of single-elimination contests. Win and move on to the next round; lose and go home. But what about when there is no next round, when the final round is the final round of the season, and the two…
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A tale of two Walts

When it comes to famous Walts in the world, movie lovers have Walt Disney, bookworms have Walt Whitman, and basketball fans have Walt Frazier. Drag racing recently lost two of its favorite Walts, Walt Austin and Walt Stevens, within a month over September and October.
03 Nov 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
A tale of two Walts
When it comes to famous Walts in the world, movie lovers have Walt Disney, bookworms have Walt Whitman, and basketball fans have Walt Frazier. Drag racing recently lost two of its favorite Walts, Walt Austin and Walt Stevens, within a month over…
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Blast From the Past: More fire burnouts

If the volume of email is any indicator, fire burnouts, which were made illegal decades ago, are still very much a hot topic among race fans of yore who witnessed the planned pyrotechnics on dragstrips across the nation. 
20 Oct 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
More fire burnouts
If the volume of email is any indicator, fire burnouts are still very much a hot topic among race fans of yore who witnessed the planned pyrotechnics on dragstrips across the nation.  Following up on my…
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Flaming hot magazine covers, cooked to order, sometimes overcooked

And as long as there have been photographers submitting photos to publications, they’re all in pursuit of the Holy Grail known as the elusive “cover shot," and for drag racing magazines, that meant a fire burnout (back when they were still legal). Here's the story of one that went amusingly wrong.
06 Oct 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Mike Kuhl
As long as there have been drag racing magazines, there have been photographers itching to illustrate their pages with the photos of far-away dragstrips you may never visit and cars that you may never see at your local track doing things that you…
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500 races and counting: A short history of NHRA's Pro Stock Motorcycle class

The Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals marked the 500th Pro Stock Motorcycle race of the modern era, which began in 1987 with the crowning of the first world champion, Dave Schultz. Here's a quick history of the 91 Pro Stock Motorcycle class from 1987 to present.
26 Sep 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pro Stock Motorcycle
The Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals marked the 500th Pro Stock Motorcycle race of the modern era, which began in 1987 with the crowning of the first world champion, Dave Schultz.  (Prior to 1986, the class was contested only sporadically,…
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It was just another case of Indy magic, courtesy of Ron Capps and 'the Snake'

Ron Capps' Funny Car victory at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals brought a tear to the eye of many — Capps included — as well as the thousands of Don Prudhomme fans around the globe.
08 Sep 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Ron Capps and 'the Snake'
In 41 straight years of attending the NHRA U.S. Nationals, I’ve stockpiled a ton of memories from the Big Go, far too many to detail here, but Ron Capps’ win in his Don Prudhomme/Hot Wheels tribute car at this year’s event probably easily cracks my…
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When it comes to 300 mph, I feel The Need: The Need To Talk about Speed

The old saying, "Speed is not just about going fast; it's about going faster than anyone else” certainly applies to drag racing. As we sit on the cusp of the first 300-mph eighth-mile pass, here’s a look back at the history of speed in drag racing.
25 Aug 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Need for Speed
At last year’s Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, Brittany Force’s David Grubnic-tuned Monster Energy Top Fueler reached a speed of 299.73 after covering just 660 feet of racetrack, falling just shy of the magic and lucrative 300-mph speed.…
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Drag books, drag movies, drag nicknames, and heroes that we’ve lost

In this week's Dragster Insider, we get a first look at a new Funny Car book and the proposed "Big Daddy" Don Garlits movie, take a look at drag racing nicknames, and offer remembrances of a trio of nitro racers who recently left us.
04 Aug 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
The Western Swing is history, and my bags are unpacked for a couple of weeks, allowing me to play a little catchup. A lot has happened since my last column three weeks ago, so here we go. Steve Reyes’ newest drag racing history book arrived…
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Girl power! The big list of female firsts in NHRA Drag Racing history

In no other motorsport have women accomplished as much as they have in NHRA Drag Racing. The female drivers of the NHRA have racked up scores of firsts in the sport that place them head and shoulders above their peers in other motorsports. Here's a look at some of those firsts.
07 Jul 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Female firsts
Lauren Freer earned a piece of NHRA history at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk when she became the first woman to win in two classes at an NHRA national event. Freer, who previously had collected four wins, scored first in…
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