Mopar Logo 1991

The Inaugural International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Friday, March 15th in the Grand Ballroom of the Ocala Hilton, in Ocala Florida.

An Outdoor Photo of Sydney Allard

Sydney Allard
(1910 -1966)

Instrumental to the introduction of drag racing to the British Isles. Sydney owned, built, and drove his own blown fuel dragster in the 50’s. He won the Monte Carlo Rally in the famed Allard sports car of his manufacture. A Royal Auto Club Director, Sidney coordinated the corporate involvement for the First Annual International Dragster Challenge, known as the British Drag Festival, at which time United States Drag Team competed on British soil.

Portrait of Art Arfons

Art Arfons

Instrumental to the introduction of drag racing to the British Isles. Sydney owned, built, and drove his own blown fuel dragster in the 50’s. He won the Monte Carlo Rally in the famed Allard sports car of his manufacture. A Royal Auto Club Director, Sidney coordinated the corporate involvement for the First Annual International Dragster Challenge, known as the British Drag Festival, at which time United States Drag Team competed on British soil.

A Photo of Art Chrisman waring aviator sunglasses

Art Chrisman

Any high school student who starts off with three cars can best be described in the yearbook as the guy most likely to succeed in racing. This was the case for Art Chrisman a member of the Saints car club in Compton, California, and co-operator of the fabled Chrisman and Son’s Garage. Art made the first pass ever at the National Hot Rod Association Nationals in 1955 in Great Bend, Kansas. In 1959, Art’s Hustler won the first Bakersfield race, considered by many to be the birth of professional drag racing.

A photo headshot of jack chrisman in black and white

Jack Chrisman
(1928 – 1989)

One of the greatest natural drivers in drag racing history, Jack experimented with single and double-engine gas dragsters, fuel dragsters, rear-engine sidewinder dragsters, and eventually sidewinder funny cars. The twin-engine, small block Chevrolets of the Howard’s Cams Twin Bear, brought national attention to the sport and Jack. His contributions to organizing drag racing are many and meaningful; however, Jack’s single most significant contribution was the successful operation of the world’s first fuel funny car. The stock-bodied 1964 Mercury Comet, which became known simply as Chrisman’s Comet, changed the face of drag racing forever.

A man passionately kneels beside a car engine, immersed in the world of drag racing.

Emery Cook
(1926 – 1983)

Emery began his racing career in San Diego, closely associated with the Bean Bandits. He drove the Hensley & Cook rear-engine roadster, the first twin disk, high gear-only drag vehicle. In 1956 Emery teamed up with Cliff Bedwell, purchasing the Yeakle Brothers car; installing a 354 ci Chrysler on 98% Nitro, and quickly blasting the car to 166.66 mph, becoming the first to break 160 mph and a quarter-mile. During his career, Emery held six world records and 46 individual track records.

Headshot of Bud Coons

Bud Coons

As a policeman in Pomona, California Bud started working with the local hot rodders clubs, implementing various programs that proved beneficial in reducing accidents and fatalities. He set up the first police-sponsored drag strip in Fontana, California in 1949, which resulted in a write-up in the FBI bulletin on how to work with hot rodders. The bulletin created a working relationship between rodders and police agencies nationwide. As NHRA Field Director in 1954, Bud led the NHRA Safety Safari tours that introduced sanctioned drag racing across the country and gave rise to regional and national championships, including the first “East meets West” drag race at Great Bend, Kansas in 1955.

Black and white photo of Raymond Godman

Raymond Godman

Ray’s 75-mile-per-hour 1932 Ford Roadster was a far cry from the 1800 horsepower ”Bo Weevils” that he fielded during the 70’s. His cars, raced over a span of three decades, giving testimony to Ray’s love of drag racing. Ray is credited with bringing NHRA racing to the hills of Tennessee, by hosting the Safety Safari in 1955. Attending the First Nationals in Great Bend, Ray won his class with a speed of 92.68 mph and then raced at the next 24 Nationals with a roadster, then dragsters, and finally funny cars.

A black and white photo of charles e jack heart

Charles E. “Jack” Hart

One of the pioneers at the old Santa Ana dragstrip, Jack was well-known for constructing and racing some of the more advanced cars of the 40’s. He drove everything from stock cars to supercharged dragsters, before joining the NHRA staff as Advertising Manager in 1960. A man of intelligent strong conviction and strength of character, Jack soon became NHRA Event Director, establishing safety guidelines, procedures, and specifications which have contributed to the success and safety of national events of today.

a black and white photo of cj hart

CJ Hart

Opening drag racing’s first commercial strip in 1950 at Santa Ana, he is credited with “inventing” the sport. Although it is not quite that simple; “Pappy” is the man who led the efforts to provide the facilities to race legally. Eventually becoming the manager of the Lions Association Drag Strip, he always kept an eye out for the “little guys”, the backbone of the sport. CJ spent most of his life trying to improve drag racing through improved facilities better prize money and a greater awareness of the sport to the general public.

A black and white photo of Tommy Ivo

“TV” Tommy Ivo

Winning only one solitary national event championship, Tommy Ivo is considered to be the father of drag racing showmanship and became one of the most popular match racers in the sport's history. His self-promotion led to acting jobs in several television series and films, and that same promotion placed his dragsters, funny cars, and later jet dragsters to the forefront of drag racing’s media regardless of their on-track performance. In that regard “TV” Tommy’s greatest single performance achievement came with the recording of the first unofficial five-second top fuel run, of 5.97 on October 12, 1972.

a black and white photo of howard johansen

Howard Johansen

Howard started his involvement in drag racing on the dry lakes of Muroc and El Mirage. His mechanical genius led to many of the parts we take for granted today, primarily the forged aluminum rod. Howard did whatever was necessary to get the job done, sometimes making “one-off” special parts for competitors. His most famous car, the “Howard’s Twin Bear” was quite successful and brought notoriety to the owner, driver, and the sport as a whole.

A black and white photo of Ak Miller

Ak Miller

Ak’s first accomplishment in hot rotting was in 1935, but at the age of 15, he recorded a speed of 92 mph at Muroc Dry Lake in Southern California. Twelve years later, as President of the Southern California Timing Association, Ak established the first hot rod show in Los Angeles and then followed with the Bonneville Speed Trials of 1948. One of the original founders of the National Hot Rod Association, he was also instrumental in the creation of the first legitimate dragstrip at the Santa Ana airbase.

A black and white photo of Tony Nancy

Tony Nancy

A fervent hot rodder and a product of the dry lakes, at Muroc and El Mirage, Tony matured at the time of the drag racing explosion after World War II. Never comfortable with convention or customarily accepted methods, he designed, built, or supervised the construction of every car he ever ran. Most notable is the fact that each car Tony rolled to the starting line in was unique, impeccably finished, and stunning in performance. The traveling ambassador of drag racing, he traveled to England, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Australia representing this great American sport admirably.

a black and white photo of jim nelson

Jim Nelson

The original National Hot Rod Association Technical Director, Jim was turning the Southern California Timing Association clocks at El Mirage before the birth of NHRA. In fact, his 135-mile-per-hour pass in 1946 was made in a 1934 Ford pickup with a flathead engine. Record holder of several top speed and ET records in the early 60s, Jim was co-creator of the Drag Master Company which produced countless championship drag racing cars for many notable racers. His concern for the growth of the sport and the safety of its participants is documented in his nearly four decades of involvement with the NHRA Safety Safari.

a black and white photo of Don Nicholson

Don Nicholson

With the hottest Chevrolet in the 40s, “Nick” street raced his finderless 1934 Coupe from Santa Barbara to San Diego. When Santa Ana opened, Don was there. Soon his “dyno-tuned” cars were pummeling the competition, winning Super Stock at the first Pomona Winternationals and the Nationals at Indy in 1961. Next, Don and Mercury stood the funny car contingent on its ears with “Eliminator I” and ran the first “funny” into the sevens. In 1969 Don returned to his first love match racing stockers. The successful program led to what became known as Pro Stock, with Don ultimately winning the 1977 Pro Stock Championship.

A black and white photo of a man in a race car speeding through a drag strip.

Calvin Rice

Drag racing’s first National Champion, Calvin is one of the sport’s earliest pioneers. He was instrumental in the design and development of the first dragster and with the help of many friends and fellow racers, Calvin designed the radical “slingshot” that one Top Eliminator at Great Bend, Kansas topping 144 miles per hour. Noted for being able to get the most out of the cars he raced, what Calvin may have lacked in horsepower he made up with his uncanny ability to be virtually unbeatable off the line. A true pioneer, a great champion, and a man who helped launch this great sport.

A black and white photo of a man in a suit and tie exuding elegance and sophistication.

Paul Schiefer

The son of a major figure in the furniture showcase dynasty of Schiefer and Sons, Paul was no stranger to manufacturing, although his interests were in the automotive field and not in furniture. Paul loved cars and making them go fast. As a brilliant engineer and engine builder, he invented the all-aluminum flywheel clutch assembly. He wisely patented this invention that included a special metal-sprayed bronze friction surface. During the ’60s, Paul guided his company to become the largest specialty drive-train component manufacturing company in the world, with customers in virtually every racing field.

A black and white photo of a man in a jacket, standing near a drag racing car.

Mickey Thompson

Southern Californian Thompson began his tremendous career in motorsports in dry lake speed trials with the Russetta Timing Association in 1947. He advanced to the earliest organized drag races and became manager of Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, California in 1956. Although his promotional expertise later led him into stadium racing, he was a champion in land speed record racing, boat racing, oval track racing, and off-road competition as well. His drag racing innovations include the incorporation of breaking parachutes in drag racing, the funny car chassis design still in use today, and streamlining science in both fuel and jet dragsters.

a black and white photo of Jim Tice

Jim Tice

A World War II bomber pilot and ex-drag racer, Jim formed the American Hot Rod Association in 1956. His marketing knowledge and understanding of drag racing were responsible for huge gains in the sport. Among the many innovations attributed to Tice were the use of the Christmas Tree starting system in both full and pro-styles, the addition of Funny Car Eliminator, the creation of Super Stock (later Pro Stock), the first points-based World Championship Series, and the pursuit of major sponsorship with larger more realistic purses for both racers and the AHRA series.

a black and white photo of ed winfield

Ed Winfield

A pioneer in the pure sense of the word, Ed is considered by many to have been the most intelligent man in racing during the early years. With considerable knowledge and background in mathematics, Ed formulated and designed the most radical racing cams in history and was the creator of the Winfield carburetor. Much of his master cam work would be difficult, if not impossible to duplicate without the use of computers. Without these early cam designs, the phenomenal performance extracted from the little flathead engines would not have been possible.


Mopar Logo 1991

The Second Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame ceremony was held on Friday, March 20th in the Grand Ballroom of the Gainesville Hilton, in Gainesville Florida.

An older man in a plaid shirt standing beside a drag racing building.

Joaquin Arnett

Rather than strip a production vehicle down to its frame rails, as was the fashion in drag racing's formative years, dry Lake racer Joaquin Arnett of the San Diego Bea Bandits decided to build his "rail job" from scratch. He also elected to feed its carburetor, 275 in.³ Mercury Flathead on nitromethane loads as potent as 80%. The result was the legendary "beam bandit" a 1325-pound, 134-mile-per-hour dragster that set speed records throughout California in 1952. A slightly longer more streamlined "Mark two" addition also made history by winning top eliminator at the first meat ever sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association: The Southern California championship drags on April 11–12 1953. As usual, Arnett's entry also turned the top speed of the meat at 132.35 mph.  This car was subsequently modified to accept a second flathead V-8, and either a dragster or sedan body. Alternating between single and dual engines the beam bandits continued setting records and drag strips and dry lakes throughout the 1950s. The original dragster, restored to racing condition, is on display at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing.

A black and white photo of a man smiling at a drag racing event.

Keith Black

Keith Black was an engine builder and team leader of history's most successful single vehicle. Keith guided the Greer, Black & Prudhomme fuel dragster to victory in some 95% of its approximately 250 races from 1962 through 1964. The subsequent season, Black turned his attention to customer Roland Leong whose "Hawaiian" consequently became the first car to win NHRA's Winternationals and US Nationals in the same year. But his greatest and most personally rewarding accomplishments were still to come. Among other things, Keith Black Racing Engines are credited with developing a safe "slipper" clutch and perfecting the aluminum 426 hemi block. "Reverend Black" also set a personal standard for professionalism and integrity that equaled the track record of Greer, Black & Prudhomme.

Willie Borsch

Willie Borsch

Drag racing fans of the 1960's and early 70's considered Willie a genuine superstar; the prototype "working man's hero". Moreover, the fearless pilot of the Marcellus & Borsch "Winged Express" AA/Fuel Altered was that rare individual who achieved international acclaim with a homebuilt, unsponsored, sportsman-classed vehicle that rarely ventured outside California. What "Wild" Willie and "Mousie" Marcellus lacked in financial resources, they made up for in brute horsepower, technical innovation, and driving skill. Their controversial, overhead airfoil was remarkably similar to contemporary dragster wings. And Willie's legendary one-handed handling will be remembered as long as "T" bodied roadsters blast away from starting lines.

Don Carlton

Don Carlton

The career of the first Pro Stock driver inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame began at age 5 when Don Carlton's daddy built him a scaled-down midget racer. However straight-line competition was always the youngster’s preference. After achieving some local success in match racing in his native South, Carlton's big break finally arrived in the form of a highway accident, suffered while flat towing his 1968 Hemi Cuda. Local legend Buddy Martin arranged to purchase the car and gave Don a job. Besides driving his old car, Carlton did extensive testing for the Sox and Martin. That led to full-time work as a Chrysler test driver and pilot of the "Motown Missile" Dodge Challenger. His first timeout, Don was the Pro Stock runner-up to former boss Ronnie Sox at the 1971 Gator Nationals; exactly one year later, Carlton returned to win the event. Carlton continued to win with Mopar's in the 70s, despite the one-two-three punch of a reduced factory backing; weight handicaps for full-sized Hemi pro cars; and NHRA's pro-stock ban on Hemi engines in imported Chrysler bodies. Midway through the 1977 season, he led all NHRA Comp Eliminator racers with five national event victories. Two additional Pro Stock wins tied him for seventh in all-time NHRA Oscars. Don's 1977 Spring Nationals victory came just three weeks before the fatal crash of his B/Altered Dodge Colt during a Chrysler test session.

Ed Donovan

Ed Donovan

A lifelong interest in engines and early exposure to California's dry lakes made Ed Donovan a likely convert to drag racing. He made the switch in 1953, dropping a radically reworked Model "B" Fod into a friend’s roadster. In their weekly visits to Santa Ana, Ed noticed a need for better valves. Working evenings at home, the youngster began manufacturing his own stainless-steel versions followed by the first two-disc "slipper" clutch, one-piece bell housings, and forged rocker arms for 392 Chryslers. Donovan Engineering became a top fuel force in the early 60's producing parts and complete engines for many of the era's brightest stars. Among the first to benefit was hired driver Tom McEwen who also received his "Mongoose" moniker from Ed. At the turn of the decade, it was Donovan and partner Bob Creitz who dominated the final years of the slingshot dragster. In 1971, Ed disbanded his own team to oversee the first production-type aluminum cylinder block. In its debut, the original Donovan 417 powered John Wiebe's obsolete front engine feeler to an ET of 6.53 seconds and a runner-up finish at the NHRA Supernationals. An aluminum small-block Chevy came in 1978, followed by the Donovan big block in 1985. Even after death, Ed's dreams continue to come true. In 1991, Donovan Engineering introduced its Model "D" block an aluminum replacement for the four-cylinder Ford powerplant that captured Ed Donovan's interest in the 1930's.

Barbara Hamilton

Barbara Hamilton

When she passed NHRA's licensing test in August 1964 young Barbara Hamilton wasn't interested in making history. Rather, she was determined to conclude two years of petitioning NHRA officials to let her drive the supercharged 1937 Willys Gasser that she and friend Nancy Leonello had built from scratch. Once licensed Hamilton went on to win C/GS class honors at the NHRA Springnationals and set a NASCAR national ET record. Nevertheless, the first female ever licensed to drive supercharged vehicles was among the four women whose licenses were subsequently revoked by NHRA just prior to the 1967 Nationals. Several months of pressure from Hamilton and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Paula Murphy helped persuade NHRA to reinstate the four existing licenses and grant a fifth to Shirley Muldowney. She subsequently moved up to B/GS before retiring in 1972. Barbara's 1937 Willy's was restored to its original racing condition and is now on display at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing.

Ernie Hashim

Ernie Hashim

Among many other accomplishments, Ernie Hashim is personally responsible for bringing GMC superchargers to drag racing. The pivotal point in Hashim's career was 1952, when he adapted a 4-71 GMC blower to his Flathead powered dragster and ran 122 mph right off the end of Saugus dragstrip, and into a telephone pole. Ernie never drove again, but continued as a car owner, engine builder, and speed shop operator. In 1955, he hand-built a complete induction system to mount a blower to the front of his Chrysler Hemi, creating the first successful supercharged dragster. With Bill Replogle driving, it set a world record of 153.91 mph at Lions, and subsequently became the first blown Chrysler combination to surpass 155 mph. Hashem effectively invented the wheelie bar, as well as, when he added a small fifth wheel to his top fueler in 1959. Ernie was active in Bakersfield California as the Western distributor. of M&H Racemasters for fellow Hall of Fame inductee Marvin Rifchin.

Bobby Langley

Bobby Langley

Of all the great dragster racers to come out of the Southwest in the 1950's, none was more colorful, popular, or professional them Bobby Langley. His very first racecar was a full-bodied slingshot dragster built entirely at home. A gas-burning Cadillac powerplant took the unknown Texan to the final round of class eliminations at the 1958 NHRA Nationals in Kansas City. Hooked on big-time competition, Bobby and wife Ruth returned to Everman, Texas, and started building the beautiful, Chrysler-powered "Scorpion I" that runner-upped at the subsequent NHRA Nationals. Hitting the road in 1958, Bobby introduced M&H tires to California by racing in the Bakersfield Championship with a 9.07 ET and 166 mph. Bobby would take low ET and best appearing car honors at the NHRA Nationals, and totally dominated the International Drag Festival in Mexico. The fully uniformed Langley family also won best appearing crew honors at both the 1957 and 1958 Nationals. A 6-71 blower appeared in late 1958, followed by a fuel injector, and ultimately nitromethane. The highlight of Bobby's career was the 1964 AHRA Nationals where "Scorpion IV" won Top Eliminator, set low ET, and top speed. This earned Langley the Master Mechanics Trophy. He returned to the US Nationals final in 1966 and won five consecutive Texas State Championships before retiring in 1969.

George Montgomery

George Montgomery

No one in history has created and perfected as many unconventional engine combinations as George Montgomery. Montgomery's name was synonymous with supercharging. He fabricated his own blower manifold for the Cadillac-powered Willys that one Little Eliminator at the 1959 NHRA Nationals; the first of four national titles. In 1964, George earned an international following as a member of the United States Drag Racing Team that toured Europe. In 1967, Montgomery revolutionized gas-supercharged racing by introducing the controversial, fiberglass-bodied, SOHC 427-equipped Mustang that dominated for three seasons. At the 1969 Nationals, it was finally replaced by a new, red Mustang which promptly won Super Eliminator and Best Engineered Car. When Ford's new Boss 429 became available, it was George who successfully developed both supercharged and twin-turbocharged versions. He won his seventh NHRA Oscar in 1974, then briefly campaigned an alcohol funny car before retiring.

Paula Murphy

Paula Murphy

The first woman license to drive a supercharged fuel car was a seasoned motorsports veteran by the time she received her UDRA and NHRA Funny Car licenses. Under the guidance of Andy Granatelli, sport car racer Paula Murphy turned pro in 1963. She promptly set a women speed record at Bonneville, averaging 161 mph in an Avanti, and turned practice labs at Indy in the STP Novi. In 1964, she returned to Bonneville to boost her women's land speed record to 236.37 mph with Walt Arfon's jet car. Murphy went drag racing in 1965, rapidly advancing from stockers to gas and fuel dragsters. In 1966 she campaigned a fuel-burning funny car nationwide as "Miss STP" and received a UDRA license. NHRA followed suit, only to revoke the privileges of all four of its female pros midway through Murphy's lucrative 1967 tour. NHRA would reconsider under pressure from STP and reinstated the women's licenses. Paula went on to break the 200 mph barrier and win the Olympics of Drag Racing. She remained a red-hot funny car attraction through the end of 1972, when a rocket powered ride at Bonneville prompted a switch to rocket dragsters. However, her first full pass ended in disaster after the engine failed to shut off, excelling Murphy off the end of the Sears Point Raceway at 300 plus mph. This incident prematurely ended one of the sport’s most promising careers.

Danny Ongais

Danny Ongais

In 1957, at the tender age of 14, Danny was already racing dirt motorcycles in his native Hawaii. By 17, the expert-rated bike racer was winning with sports cars, as well. In 1962, Danny came to the mainland with another unknown Islander, Roland Leong, who flew his blown gas dragst over for the Winternationals. After the Pomona event, veteran racers predicted that the Best Appearing Car and Long-Distance awards collected by these newcomers would be the last drag racing trophy they'd ever win. Ongais prove them wrong the following season by winning an NHRA Top Gas title. In 1964, driving for Mickey Thompson, he prevailed at NHRA, AHRA, and UDRA events, plus the memorable Hot Rod Magazine Championships-in which he hand-pushed his dragster to a record ET of one minute thirty-five seconds. Next came a series of fast nitro burners. Danny is still remembered for his near-perfect US Nationals winning 1969 season at the wheel of Mickey Thompson's blue Mustang. Moving to the Vel's Parnelli Jones camp, he drove the team's top fueler and funny car often at the same event in the early 70s. In 1975 "Ongais left drag racing to start his successful IndyCar career.

Setto Postoain

Setto Postoian

One of drag racing's first Eastern heroes, and early idle of the teenager Don Garlits, was Serop "Setto" Postoian. Before being drafted into World War II, Setto worked in the engine rebuilding division of Ford Motor Company in Detroit. After serving three and a half years overseas, the young veteran learned frame and fronting repairs from a former instructor of the Bear Manufacturing Company. That relationship led to a pit crew stent at the Indianapolis 500, and his first ride in a real hot rod the “Full House" the 1932 Ford roadster of Jack McGraph a racing mechanic from Los Angeles. Setto stayed six weeks, absorbing everything he saw. Returning to Michigan, Postoian opened Farmington Speed Shop and built a flathead roadster for the drags. Next came and ublown dragster, powered by a Desoto Hemi the first overhead engine Setto had. After switching to a 392 Chrysler, Setto won back to back Top Fuel titles at the prestigious World Series of Drag Racing in 1957 and 1958. Turning pro, Setto received top appearance money to race as far away as Florida, California, and New England. In 1960 this rising star was seriously injured at Detroit Dragway, and never raced again. He would go on to work for and retire from General Motors Technical Center.

Eric Rickman

Eric Rickman

More than any other development drag racing's explosive growth in the 1950s might be credited to the infant sports exposure in Hot Rod Magazine. More often than not, the black and white images that inspired imaginations across the country originated in the viewfinder of Eric Rickman's camera. Rickman's photographic career actually predates the 1948 introduction of Hot Rod; he started shooting San Francisco area midget and roadster races right after World War II. He was selling action photos at the 1950 Oakland Roadster Show when publisher Robert E Petersen happened by Eric's booth, liked what he saw, and offered him a job. Over the next 40 years, Rickman expertly documented the evolution of drag racing and hot rotting. Of special historical significance are Eric's photographs from two complete tours with the NHRA Drag Safari that crisscrossed America from 1954 to 1956, including his coverage of the inaugural NHRA Nationals at Great Bend, Kansas.

Marvin Rifchin

Marvin Rifchin

The man behind M&H Tire Company could never say no to a racer in need. It's been that way since the rubber shortages of World War II when military priorities virtually halted production of the micro-size inner tubes used for northeastern midget racers. In desperation, they turn to a small tire company in Watertown Massachusetts. They pleaded with Marvin Rifchin and his father, Harry- respectively M and H of this family business- until Marvin finally relented, cutting and heat splicing 16-inch passenger tubes to fit the 12-inch midget wheels. Other types of oval track racers convinced M&H to build them tires too. Inadvertently, drag racer started pestering Marvin for an alternative to the recap slicks then in use. Rifchin again gave in, developing a dragster tire from scratch in 1957. Not coincidently, little-known Don Garlits began running unbelievable 170 mph speeds that very season. For the next two decades, despite heavy competition from major tire manufacturers, M&H Racemasters set the top fuel pace almost continuously.

Pete Robinson

Pete Robinson

One of the greatest innovators in drag racing history, Pete Robinson did it all: designer, driver, engine builder, and manufacturer. He was one of the few racers capable of taking a new idea all the way to the finished product all by himself; then hopping into a dragster and personally testing the device. An early advocate of weight reduction, Robinson and his small block, thin-tubed "Tinker Toy" came out of nowhere to win the 1961 US Nationals in the 1962 World Series of Drag Racing accelerating the demise of twin-engine dragsters. "Sneaky Pete" went on to develop rear-wheel jacks, magnesium blowers, and various aerodynamic devices. His combination of a redesigned SOHC Ford engine and a unique "vacuum wing" produced an unprecedented 6.50 seconds ET in early 1971. At the subsequent NHRA Winternationals Pete's ground effects fueler when airborne in the lights impacted the guardrail and exploded, mortally wounding the 37-year-old engineer. Appropriately his final pass was the quickest qualifying run of the day.

A black and white photo capturing a group of people posing for a picture at a Drag Racing event.

Lloyd Scott

A dry lakes racer and gifted innovator, Lloyd Scott's drag racing career got going at the same time and place as the sport itself; in the early 1950s at Santa Ana dragstrip. Rapidly advancing through stockers and roadsters, "Scotty" and partner Noel Timney built a mid-engine dragster with one goal in mind breaking the 150-mph barrier. After installing a second engine in front, their gas-burning "Bustle Bomb" topped 151 mph at the Automobile Timing Association of America's 1955 World Series of Drag Racing in Carpentersville, Illinois. Returning to the Midwest in 1956, Lloyd won top eliminator honors at the inaugural AHRA Nationals in Great Bend, Kansas. Scott was an early member of the then-exclusive Bonneville 200 mph Club and also raced two-wheelers successfully. In 1965 at the age of 40 Lloyd died while tuning a motorcycle for a race.

James Warren

James Warren

When James Warren began dating his future wife in 1952, his life changed in more ways than one. Juanita's big brother, a local dirt track racer, introduced James to motorsports. By 1958, they were competing at Bakersfield's oval track every Saturday night, and at Formosa Dragstrip on Sundays. When they decided to combine talents and concentrate on an injected Chrysler slingshot, Warren and Roger Coburn started a partnership that lasted until 1981, when James retired. Their 23 seasons together, always racing dragsters, were marked by Warrens expert driving in Coburn's unconventional combinations. The "Ridge Route Terrors" terrorized Los Angeles area tracks with a dual-engine Chrysler-Chevrolet dragster, a lightweight Chevy fueler, and ultimately the "Rain for Rent Special" that dominated West Coast racing in the mid-1970s. In the process, Warren & Coburn won the 1962 March Meet, became the first team to run 230 mph and officially back it up, won multiple NHRA and AHRA national events, when five NHRA Pacific Division championships, and were four-time winners of their hometown's most famous sporting event the US Fuel & Gas Championships.

Phil Weiand

Phil Weiand

One of the true pioneers of the performance industry Phil Weiand was a familiar presence at hot rotting events in the 1930's. A racing accident left him a paraplegic, but confinement to a wheelchair only heightened his desire to make a meaningful impact on racing. In 1939 he introduced the "High Weiand" manifold, the forerunner of tunnel ram intake technology. When drag racing was in its infancy, Phil developed a multiple of manifolds for engines of the day, including the popular Weiand "Drag Star" used on Don Garlits trendsetting "Swap Rat I". Recognizing the potential of the performance industry, Weiand opened his own foundry in 1955 and charted a course of total in-house quality control a visible part of the Weiand Company. Phil was also a pioneer in the adaptation of superchargers to drag racing applications. His manifold and blower drives for 6-71 superchargers became a virtual industry standard and enjoyed tremendous popularity. Weiand's tunnel ram manifolds also became a mainstay of the Pro Stock class in its formative years, used by stars like Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins. Phil was instrumental in starting the industries Credit Managers Association and later very involved in the founding of SEMA. In fact, the original SEMA logo was done in-house at Weiand. Phil Weiand passed away in 1978, having left behind a legacy of innovation and dedication. His wife Joan took over the helm of the company Bill had founded 45 years prior. In 1992 when Automotive Industries Inc. approached its 60th year as a major cornerstone of the performance industry. Phil Weiand has left an indelible mark in racing to be sure.

Jack Williams

Jack Williams

When the National Hot Rod Association lifted its seven-year fuel band prior to the 1964 season, nitro veteran Jack Williams shot to the forefront of top fuel racing. On the Saturday of the Winternationals, Williams won the tough AA/Fuel Dragster class earning him an automatic appearance in Sunday's Top Fuel Eliminator final, however he destroyed his 392 Chrysler in the process. A determined Crossley, Williams and Swan team gathered up their healthy parts; drove 130 miles back home to Bakersfield; thrashed all night to build a new motor, and race back to Pomona in time to swap engines. Their effort paid off when they defeated Tommy Ivo to win the first prize a Ford falcon Sprint. Later that year, Williams scored another huge win at the inaugural Hot Rod Magazine Championships, one more than 30 open events, and never relinquished his NHRA points lead. A runner-up finish at the US Nationals clinched their first NHRA Top Fuel World Championship. After hanging up his helmet in the late 60's, Williams remained successful as a manager and developer of race tracks.


Mopar Logo 1991

The Third Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame ceremony was held on Friday, March 19th in the Grand Ballroom of the Gainesville Hilton, in Gainesville Florida.

A man, specialized in drag racing, meticulously working on the engine of an old car.

John Bandimere, Sr.

This Denver, Colorado, mechanic, and machinists burst into the national spotlight at the inaugural NHRA Nationals. In an error when most drag cars were either driven or flat towed to the strip; John Bandimere showed up at Great Bend, Kansas with the sport's first tractor-trailer rig. Equally impressive was the trailer contents: a modified GMC pickup and a new McCulloch supercharged 400 hp 1955 Chevy, arguably the prototype Pro Modified combination, some 30 years ahead of its time. Indeed, despite the 10th-grade education, Bandimere made a career out of being ahead of his time. In 1946, he opened one of the early speed shops. Later that decade, he began manufacturing and selling supercharger kits, including one for the first adaptations of a GMC truck blower to an automotive engine. In the 50's, he manufactured the first aluminum V8 valve covers in his own foundry, as well as experimental parts for General Motors engineering department, and various automotive tools of his own invention. He designed and built complete cars for drag racing and hill climbs. He built one of history's first four-wheel drive race cars that competed at Bonneville and Pike's Peak, entered the Mexican Road Race, raced midgets, and sports cars. He conceived and developed two drag strips from scratch; Bandimere Safety Park, outside Denver, and Bandimere Speedway, operated by his family. Of all his contributions and success, this born-again Christian, this tireless public speaker was the proudest of his lifelong work with young people. Through his youth-oriented race tracks, community service, and personal example John Bandimere left a lasting legacy.

Two individuals, a man and woman, standing next to a semaphore sign used in drag racing events.

Lou Baney

The story of Aloysius James Benedetto reads like several different careers, any one of which may have qualified Lou Baney for induction into drag racing's Hall of Fame. As a driver, he cut his teeth in roadsters on Southern California ovals, then repeatedly broke every dry lake record for coupes. As a promoter, he teamed up with Lou Senter in 1950 to open Saugus Dragstrip, the first strip to offer night raceing. As a team owner and engine builder, Lou played prominent roles in the careers of people like Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen, Ed Pink, and Kenny Arnold. As a politician, he was second to none. As far back as the 40's, Baney presided over both the Screwdrivers Club and the Russetta Timing Association. In the 50's, he was elected by his peers to run Drag Racers Inc, the first racers union. In the 60s, he directed history's most effective such union, the powerful United Drag Racers Association. In the 70's, he served SEMA as Technical Director and Executive Director; and spent one season managing McEwen's funny car team. Lou even gave the publishing business a try, briefly serving as General Manager for the group that purchased Drag News from Doris Herbert; before retiring in 1978.

Bruce Crower

Bruce Crower

His high school mates, and their parents, might best recall Bruce Crower for the 80ci Harley-Davidson that terrorized the streets of Phoenix in the late 40's, or for the subsequent 1932 highboy that Bruce remembers as the first Arizona car to beat the bikes. Moving to California in 1950, he went to work machining flywheels for Paul Schiefer. Before long, he was moonlighting as a manufacturer of exhaust flanges for Detroit's new overhead V8s. In 1955, Bruce fabricated one of the first-ever top-mounted GMC blower setups for his Hemi-powered Hudson, which responded by setting a Bonneville record of 157 plus mph. Later that year, Bruce began producing what would prove to be one of the most significant pieces of speed equipment to date; the "U-Fab" manifold kit for Chrysler Hemis. Boosted by Emery Cook's unprecedented 166.97 mph speed at Lions in early 1957, Crower would sell thousands of these kits through 1961. Simultaneously, he worked behind the scenes at Schneider Cams, developing experimental profiles that other companies refused to grind. In the late 50's Bruce moved into the clutch business, successfully adapting an Italian design of dual disk and a floater for use on top fuel dragsters. The rapidly expanding Crower Cams and Equipment Company also added its own line of crankshafts, flywheels, fuel injectors, connecting rods, and camshafts. His equipment pushed Don Garlits top fuel dragster over the mystical 250 mph barrier. In the 70's, Bruce introduced the revolutionary CrowerGlide clutch assembly and a Flat-8  Indycar engine of his own design. Bruce Crower would continue to indulge a lifelong need for speed with an innovative Bonneville steamliner.

2020 HOF

Doris Herbert

The first journalists inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame was also the sport’s most influential female of the 1960's. In 1959, Doris Herbert assume control of the fledgling bi-weekly tabloid circulated primarily in California. Almost immediately, she transformed Drag News into a weekly newspaper with unrivaled national circulation and influence. Historic innovations included the all-important drag news Standard 1320 Records and Mr. Eliminator list which embraced all drag strips, sanctioned or otherwise, that met her Standard 1320 requirements. Her unprecedented, nationwide standardization of track measurement, elevation and timing procedures effectively countered the range of promoter-inflated, "popcorn" speeds that seriously threatened the credibility of the young sport in the early 60's. Moreover, the roots of major match racing and, indeed, professional drag racing itself can arguably be traced to the lucrative best-of-three-round battles between holders of the papers covenant Mr. Eliminator positions and hungry challengers. Equally significant was Herbert's uniquely unbiased editorial policy. Fearful of neither sanctioning organizations or advertisers, Doris encouraged constructive criticism- however controversial- from contributors, columnists, and letter writers. Many of the sport's best-known editors, journalists, and photographers credited Drag News with launching their publishing careers. In 1976 after 17 years at the helm, Doris Herbert sold "The Drag Racers Bible". She would go on to own a successful marketing company based in Huntington Beach, California

ed iskenderian

Ed Iskenderian

It's no coincidence that the rise of history's most famous cam grinder closely parallels the evolution of drag racing. The roots of our sport were planted at the dry lakes, and young Ed hitched his first ride to Muroc in 1937, behind the wheel of a modified roadster being towed by a rope. In 1946, the postwar hot rod explosion had barely ignited when he grew impatient waiting for a back ordered Clay Smith cam and decided to grind his own. Within three years, that "Isky 404" was the most famous flathead cam of its time. Blessed with a promotional flair that matched his mechanical skills, Ed expertly used Hot Rod Magazine ad space to publicize his accomplishments. In 1949, when a customer asked for crew uniforms to wear at the inaugural Bonneville Nationals, Isky combined his logo with white undershirts to create history's first printed T-shirts. Later, he pioneered the payment of contingency cash to early drag racers. The controversial record runs of Cook & Bedwell (166.97 mph) and Chris Karamesines (204.54 mph) were glorified, and largely legitimized, by extensive Isky advertising. Combining humor with uncanny marketing, he waged the "Camgrinder Wars" in the pages of Drag News, and in the process, help make major stars of not only his own customers but also racers who ran rival camshafts such as Stone, Woods & Cook. When the speed equipment industry recognized the need to form its own trade association in 1963, Isky was elected the first President of SEMA. His sons would go on to operate Ed Iskenderian Racing Cams, but Isky remained intimately involved in the sport he helped create. The "Camfather" is regularly seen at NHRA Hot Rod Reunions yearly.

Bill Jenkins

Bill Jenkins

While several of his fellow future Hall of Famers were boldly experimenting with exotic fuel measures and superchargers, Bill Jenkins was content to search for a hundredth of a second, in 100 different places. This patient, scientific approach to horse power and traction paid dividends as early as the mid-50's, when the engine builder became known in the Northeast for setting up winning six cylinder and V-8 Chevy Stockers. Wider acclaim followed in the early 60's, thanks to record-setting stints preparing Bill Spanakos' "Monster Mash" 1955 Chevy and Dave Strickler's "Old Reliable" 1963 Chevy. Climbing behind the wheel himself in 1965, the "rookie" was instantly rewarded with Top Stock honors at the NHRA Winternationals. In 1966, his unique, 327ci Nova -the original "Grumpy's Toy"- dared challenge the dominant Dodge and Plymouth Hemis in A/Stock, to the delight of Chevy lovers nationwide. His 427ci Camaro B/Gasser match raced during 1969 as a "heads up Super Stocker" and became the prototype for Pro Stock. When the third professional category debuted in 1970, Jenkins upset the Mopar's at both Pomona and Gainesville. He also pioneered small stock power plants, McPherson strut suspension, tube frames and dry-sump oiling for Pro Stockers. He became the only driver to win all three PRO-PRA events, then retired from driving. In 1976, hired hands Larry Lombardo and Ken Dondero drove twin Vegas to both the NHRA and AHRA points championships. Jenkins performance "shop cars" are credited with winning six such titles, plus 36 NHRA national events, and 20 Car Craft All-Star team selections.

Lim Liberman

Jim Liberman

Arguably the greatest showman and drag racing history, "Jungle Jim" was responsible for single-handedly converting untold thousands of young people into dedicated drag racing fans. Liberman's rise from the security of bracket racing a Chevy powered Studebaker at Fremont Raceway coincided not only with the funny car craze of the mid-60's, but also with the hippie movement flowering in nearby San Francisco. When this young long-haired, fearless driver stopped into Lew Arrington's equally unpredictable "Brutus" GTO, the resulting chemistry attracted a whole new audience of younger, less conservative spectators. So many of them, in fact, that Liberman was soon fielding his own two-car team, rapidly advancing from modified Nova door stammers two state-of-the-art Vega and Monzo floppers. His fans came to expect the unexpected, and he responded with spectacular burnouts, fire burnouts, 1320-foot smoky burnouts, wrong-way burnouts, and even return road burnouts. The addition of sidekick "Jungle Pam" (Pam Hardy) and a hot-selling Revell model further fueled demand. Ironically, his reputation as a showman somewhat overshadowed these professional drag racers' equal abilities as a skilled handler and a shrewd businessman. His unique combination of talent has not been seen since a fatal highway accident prematurely shortened a career that was still on the rise. Indeed "Jungle” Jim Liberman remains one-of-a-kind.

A black and white photo of an older man smiling, possibly reminiscing about his drag racing days.

Joe Pisano

The epitome of a self-made man, the son of Italian immigrants taught himself the three "R"'s: reading, writing, and racing. Relocating from Pennsylvania to California in 1945, the teenager was exposed to the harsh realities of a homeless family, sleeping in city parks. Pisano was also exposed to the booming Los Angeles hot rod scene and became hooked for life. He raced roasters at Ascot, entered a Hudson (with Dempsey Wilson) in the 1953 Mexican Road Race, ran the dry lakes, drag-raced supercharged gasser's, and entered Bonneville's 200 MPH Club. A natural salesman, Joe also sold enough new Chevrolets to buy into Venolla Pistons in 1961. By the late 60's, he was doubly successful as a manufacturer and funny car owner. In the 70's, he redesigned aluminum connecting rods for fuel racing, further increasing Venolla's fortunes. In 1984, he introduced the JP-1-cylinder block that would power his own car through both the 280 and 285 mph speed barriers. His block would also push Eddie Hill's top fuel dragster through the four-second barrier in 1988. Throughout his life "Pappa Joe" was also known as a kind, caring individual who dispensed more valuable advice and aluminum parts to needy racers than anyone outside of his brothers realized. At the 1991-Mile-High Nationals, Joe was returning a new driver, Dale Pulde, from a mandatory checkout pass when he suffered a fatal heart attack. Frank Carmen and Tony Pisano would keep their beloved brother's spirit alive and thundering in the form of his 5.11-second ET funny car two years later.

Ralph Seagraves

Ralph Seagraves

Drag racing's public acceptance is a legitimate motorsport was greatly accelerated by the sport’s "discovery", nearly two decades ago, by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. As the tobacco giant's Special Events Director, it was Ralph Seagraves who personally persuaded the president to bring the Winston brand into stock-car racing in 1971. Four years later, Winston and Seagraves similarly blessed NHRA and IHRA with respective $100,000 postseason points funds, creating the Winston Drag Racing Series. Less publicized, but no less important, where the "presence packages" of paint, materials, and money made to individual track operators for facility improvements. Ralph also worked tirelessly to establish drag racing's credibility with skeptical media leaders, elected officials, and corporate executives both inside and outside R.J. Reynolds. Indeed, during his tenure in the company's Special Events Department, Seagraves convinced no fewer than 13 different CEOs to continue funding his ambitious motorsports programs. All the while, he was personally escorting important business leaders to national and divisional events, introducing them to the cost-effectiveness of drag racing sponsorship. The net result has been untold millions of dollars in corporate investments since 1975, not the least of which was an NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series point fund valued at $1,041,600 per year in 1993. Though he never set a national record or won a single round, the contributions of Ralph Seagraves are second to none.


Mopar Logo 1991

The Fourth Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame ceremony was held on Thursday, March 17th in the Grand Ballroom of the Radisson Hotel Gainesville, in Gainesville Florida.

Zore Arkus-Dontov

Zora Arkus-Duntov

Long synonymous, with drag racing, the "Hemi" cylinder head is among the contributions of Zora Arkus-Duntov. A Belgium-born engineer who helped Dr. Ferdinand Porsche develop the Auto Union Grand Prix machines of the 1930s, Zora and his brother,Yura, design the Ardun head in 1925 as a conversion for underpowered, flathead-Ford trucks. When Ford began equipping its trucks with larger Lincoln engines, Ardun Mechanical Corporation switched its focus to auto racing. Their overhead-valve design enabled and dry lakes or oval racer to squeeze 300+ horsepower from a Ford V-8. Even after Chrysler's cast iron version appeared, early nitro racers continued to favor the Ardun, which offered cooling advantages of aluminum construction and a larger water jacket area around the spark plugs. Joining Chevrolet in 1953, Zora helped develop Corvette and a variety of performance parts during a 22-year General Motors career. Even in retirement, Zora Arkus-Duntov continues to provide performance consultation to Chevrolet in the specialty-equipment industry.

John Bradley

John Bradley

The man known as "Mr. Flathead" is responsible for keeping Ford's flathead V-8 viable as a Top Fuel powerplant through the end of the 1950s. John Bradley began racing a '31 Ford roadster on Southern California streets and dirt tracks in 1946. In 1952, he built his first dragster out of Model T frame rails. By 1953, Bradley was burning nitromethane and hitting unbelievable speeds of 147+ mph. Next came the nitro-burning, tube chassisied "Gene's Brake Shop Special" that shocked the nation by reaching the final round of the 1957 World Series of Drag Racing at Cordova Illinois (where a broken shifter linkage gave Setto Postoian an easy victory). The famous fueler took more than 50 Top Eliminator titles and set countless track records in 1957 in 1958, becoming perhaps the most successful flathead dragster in history. His final challenge to the overheads was a dual-engined fueler that Bradley campaigned from 1958 to 1962. In 1994 at the age of 68 John Bradley continued to drive a nine-second flathead dragster on the Californian nostalgia circuit. It featured an eight-spark plug, billet-aluminum cylinder head of Bradley's own design.

vic edelbrock

Vic Edelbrock Sr.

The Edelbrock name has been associated with high performance since the 1930s, when a young mechanic began setting records on the dry lakes outside Los Angeles. Vic Edelbrock was already experimenting with dual-car intake manifolds of his own design and modifying cast-iron "Denver" heads. During World War II, government contract work gave Vic the foundry and machine shop experience that led to the production of his first high-compression, aluminum cylinder heads for Ford V8s. While Vic was enjoying postwar success as a midget car owner, Edelbrock-equipped flatheads dominated the dry lakes, salt flats, oval tracks, and early drag strips. Together with longtime sidekick Bobby Meeks and driver Fran Hernandez, Vic was among the first racers to experiment with nitromethane. A nitro-burning, 3/8" by 3/8" Edelbrock combination powered Fran's fenderless Deuce Coupe to victory in the October 1949 gathering at Goleta, California, that many regard as history's first organized drag race. Vic Edelbrock Sr. died at the age of 49 from cancer.

Don & Pat Garlits

Don &

Pat Garlits (1934-2014)

Record books reveal "only" the on-track accomplishments: 17 combined AHRA, IHRA, and NHRA World Championships; victories in more than 150 major events; national ET and speed records as far back as 1957 at 176 mph, including the first official 200 mph run by top fuel dragster; plus, countless technological innovations. Don successfully developed a rear engine dragster which halted the rash of driver injuries and fatalities that threatened top fuel's existence in the 1970s. Don formed the Professional Racers Association persuading establish sanctioning bodies to increase winners' purses by as much as 300%. Don Garlits would return to full time NHRA drag racing in 1984. He would take a four-year-old top fuel dragster, from display in the museum, go to US Nationals and win event. In 1986 Don debuted Swap Rat 30 a streamlined top fuel dragster. Swap Rat 30 was the first top fuel dragster to break 270 mph barrier at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville Florida. Swamp Rat 30 would be the first top fuel dragster to do a complete blowover at the NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown New Jersey. Swamp Rat 30 was the first top fuel dragster enshrined in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. During the 80's Don Garlits would become the first top fuel driver to win the NHRA US Nationals three years in a row (1984,1985,1986). Don would also be the first top fuel driver to win two consecutive NHRA World Championships (1985 and 1986).  Despite all the records and achievements Don and Pat Garlits biggest accomplishment and contribution was the establishment two unique institutions to preserve and honor the sport of drag racing's rich history. In 1976 the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing was established finding a home in Ocala, Florida in 1984. At the time this was the first and only museum dedicated to the sport of drag racing. The museum originally 27,000 sqaure feet has grown to 54,500 sqaure feet since it opened. In 1991 the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame inducted its first twenty legends of the sport. To this date the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame has inducted hundreds of drag racing’s legends. These two institutions will serve to preserve the history of the sport for past, present, and future drag racers and drag racing fans.

TC Lemmons

Tom "TC" Lemons

While growing up in Bixby Oklahoma, Tommy Lemons became acquainted with Southwestern racers such as Connie Swingle, Don Cook, and Bob Creitz. Swingle returned to Don Garlits shop following a 1968 vacation in Oklahoma, it was Connie riding in the passenger seat of Tommy's blue Ford pickup. Lemons joined Swingle on Garlits payroll, and for nearly two decades Tommy-nicknamed "Top Cat" -would be Don's right-hand man. Together, they opitomized the two-man top fuel team of the 1970s, when a touring top fuel operation consisted of just a driver and a crew chief. Among other things, Garlits credits TC for helping perfect the rear engine design that revolutionized sport in 1971. All told, Lemons was involved in construction of 19 different Swap Rat dragsters. He also restored many of the vintage race cars in the Garlits collection. Tommy played a key role in the relocation of the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing from Seffner to Ocala Florida.  Many of the restored vehicles in the museum reflect TC's craftsmanship and tenacity.

Herb Parks

Herb Parks

Following local success as an independent top fuel owner-driver on the United Drag Racing Association circuit, Herb Parks embarked upon a second career as a crew chief. In 1977, Parks left Clayton Harris team and finish out the season with Don Garlits. In his NHRA debut, Herb tuned Garlits "Donovan Charger" to a track record 5.77 ET at the 1978 Winternationals. In 1979, he helped design and construct Swap Rat 25 with early examples of ground effects technology. Garlits gives Parks much of the credit for 1984's incredible NHRA comeback campaign which netted three consecutive NHRA US Nationals titles and two consecutive NHRA Winston championships. Herb also made major design contributions to the revolutionary 1986 Swap Rat 30 streamliner, the first top fuel dragster over 270 mph, enshrined in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. Herbs talents would be lost when he was struck and killed, by a top fuel car, in a freak accident, in Bradenton Florida, at the age of 39.

Wally & Barbara Parks

Wally (1913-2007) and Barbara Parks (1923-2006)

Like drag racing itself, Wally Parks is a product of the California dry lakes. In 1937, he helped form the Southern California Timing Association, becoming SCTA president in 1946. A year later, he teamed with Robert Petersen to present history's first hot rod show. It was during this LA Hot Rod Exposition that the two men discuss creating a magazine for hot rodders. In 1949, Parks quit SCTA to become the second editor of Hot Rod Magazine. In 1951, he cofounded the NHRA, which began sanctioning drag races in 1953. From 1954 through 1956, Wally dispatched NHRA's Safety Safari to all points of the United States educating hot rodders and nervous civic leaders about the benefits of organized drag racing. Wally remained with Peterson Publishing Company, where he met his future wife Barbara, until 1963. Wally simultaneously built Hot Rod next into the world's largest automotive publication and the NHRA into the world's biggest auto racing organization. He also edited the weekly National Dragster and authored a 1966 book, Drag Racing Yesterday and Today. More than four decades after founding NHRA, he continued to serve the organization as Chairman of the Board. Wally and Barber Parks are the best ambassadors that drag racing has ever had.

Robert Petersen

Robert E Petersen

The appearance of Hot Rod Magazine in January 1948 legitimized the men who were destined to become the founding fathers of drag racing. Motion picture publicist Robert Petersen's initial under-financed publishing venture also serves to organize and inspire performance enthusiasts throughout the world. It was a reader’s letter to Hot Rod Magazine that convinced editor Wally Parks to form the NHRA in 1951. As drag racing grew increasingly popular Pearsen Publishing Company launched Car Craft Magazine as drag racing's complete magazine. In the 1960s Petersen Publishing Company produced the nation's largest independent events, the Hot Rod Magazine Championships, and the Car Craft All-Star Drag Racing Team Aqwards, which were among sports most coveted honors. In the early 1980s Peterson Publishing Company published three drag racing history books, followed six years of Drag Racing Magazine. The sport of drag racing continues to receive valuable editorial exposure through Hot Rod Magazine. It should be noted the original 1948 copies of Hot Rod Magazine have a value of over $500.

Ronnie Sox & Buddy Martin

Ronnie Sox (1939-2006) & Buddy Martin

Former stock rivals Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin joined forces in late 1962. There 1963 Chevy won its first time out and went on to upset the factory back cars of touring stars such as: Don Nicholson, Hayden Profitt, and Arnie Beswick. In 1963, a paid contract to race in Maryland led to an extended Northeastern tour and new careers as professional drag racers. Mercury provided Sox and Martin with the 427 Comet that won A/Factory Experimental honors at the NHRA Winternationals, grace the front cover of Super Stock Magazine, and toured Europe with the US Drag Racing Team in 1964. Through 1971, a series of Hemi powered Plymouth's helped Sox accumilate a record number of NHRA national event victories (15) and consecutive wins (5), plus numerous AHRA and IHRA titles. Indicative of their domination was an unprecedented streak of five straight NHRA Springnational victories (1967-1971). In late 1969, it was Martin who presented AHRA and NHRA officials proposed rules for a new, heads up class called Pro Stock. Sox subsequently proved so successful by winning six of eight NHRA Pro Stock shows in 1971, plus many AHRA and IHRA races. This caused NHRA to impose a 200-pound weight penalty on Hemi cars effectively ending Chrysler Corporation's participation. The team ran IHRA events and match races until Buddy Martins retirement in 1976. Ronnie Sox would go on to campaign a six second 200 mph replica of the original 1964 Comet.

Greth, Fisher, Bush, Maynard

Gary "Red" Greth (1924-2021), Lyle Fisher (1956-2008), Joe Bush (1933-1984) & Don Maynard (1934-1963)

Arizona hot rodders Red Greth and Don Maynard formed the nucleus of this team while still in high school. With the addition of Lyle Fisher came a fuel-burning highboy roadster and a fuel dragster, both flatheads powered. After borrowing Red Henslee's modified roadster, the trio began building a similar, mid-mounted Hemi combination. Backed by Joe Bush's Tucson Speed Sport Automotive, their 1525- pound, 101.5" wheelbase "Speed Sport Special" set the world speed record of 169.11 mph in 1957. The unique roar emanating from the carburetor 354's full length exhaust headers earned the nickname "Ol Noisy". Maynard went on to build motors for Chris Karamesines including the Hemi that broke 200mph barrier at Alton, Illinois in 1960. At the time of his death Maynard was ranked among the nation’s top engine builders. Bush contributed to sponsor a long series of "Speed Sport" roadsters, dragsters, and funny cars before passing the age of 51. In the 1980s the remains of "Ol Noisy" were located in Texas by Don Garlits and restored for display in the Museum of Drag Racing. Red Greth would build a replica roadster to compete in nostalgia racing.

John Wiebe

John Wiebe

Two-time AHRA Top Fuel World Champion John Wiebe was among the Midwest's most successful and most popular professional drag racers. Wiebe's relatively brief career was born in 1963, at the wheel of a supercharged '34 Ford. A subsequent engine transplant inota "T" roadster and John's first AHRA record, but the youngster quickly soured on handicapped sportsman competition. Within months of making the leap to top fuel in 1964, this part-time racer lasted his way into Mikey Thompson's prestigious 200 Mile-Per-Hour Club. Two major AHRA victories in 1968 helped convince "Kansas John" to turn pro. In 1970, he earned the AHRA World Championship and the Mike Sorokin Award. in October 1971, he teamed with Ed Donovan to introduce drag racing's first all-aluminum powerplant. Though still campaigning and "obsolete" front engine chassis, Wiebe debuted the Donovan 417 by lowering Ontario Motorsport Speedways ET record to 6.53 seconds during the NHRA Supernationals. Donovan's engine and Wiebe's dragster, often remembered as the last competitive slingshot, are both on display today at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. John Wiebe went on to win the 1973 NHRA Springnationals, the 1974 PRA National Challenge, and the 1975 AHRA World Championship before retiring in 1978.


Mopar Logo 1991

The Fifth Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame ceremony was held on Thursday, March 16th in the Grand Ballroom of the Radisson Hotel Gainesville, in Gainesville Florida.

Raymond Beadle

Raymond Beadle

Raymond, one of drag racing's most popular drivers, won three consecutive Winston world Championships from 1979-1981. A graduate of Texas Tech University, Beadle started his drag racing career driving a top fuel dragster at weekend races in Texas. The lure of professional racing encouraged him to quit his job with the Texas Department of Agriculture in 1974 and devote his full-time energy to racing. He drove a car owned by Don Schumacher, who retired the following year. Beadle and fellow Texan Harry Schmitt then formed a partnership, with Raymond at the controls of Schmitt’s “Blue Max". In 1976, Beadle bought Schmitt's part of the business and set a goal of winning a world championship Beadle’s determination to win came to the limelight in 1978 , his worst season of racing, when his car destroyed more than $200,000 with the parts before a  faulty ventilation system in the fuel tank was discovered. He won the Winston World Finals to end that season. The next three seasons Beadle won the world championship knocking Don Prudhomme from being the Funny Car Champion since 1975.

Larry Carrier

Larry Carrier

Carrier founded and served as President of the International Drag Racing Association from 1970 through 1987. He was responsible for influencing R.J. Reynolds (Winston) to become heavily involved in professional drag racing because of his longtime friendship with Ralph Seagraves and his association with NASCAR. During his tenure as IHRA president, the IHRA introduced a multitude of original concepts that are still used today such as: preschedule pro qualifying sessions with alternating lanes, free admission for professional entries, cable television coverage of drag events (ESPN was introduced to the drag racing circuit), titanium bellhousings fuel cars, blower restraints for supercharged cars, and "Mountain Motor" pro stock engines. Larry was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame because of his outstanding contributions to both drag racing and NASCAR racing.

Ted Cyr

Ted Cyr

One of the true Southern California drag racing pioneers, Ted raced virtually every type of car of the 50s and 60s eras. As much mechanic and driver,Cyr thrived on innovation and trying unusual approaches. He campaigned gas and fuel dragsters with Chevy, Olds, Chrysler, and Lincoln engines. Ted ran front-engine, rear-engine, and "Sidewinder" type cars with incredible success. In 1958, Ted went for on an amazing nine-month Undefeated streak, often racing to events per week. As part of the famed Cyr and Hopper team, his biggest individual victories came at the 1958 NHRA US Nationals and the 1960 US Fuel Gas Championship in Bakersfield. After retiring from the sport for approximately two years, he returned as a partner in the Cyr & Schofield top fuel team for four years.

Jim & Allyson Lee

Jim & Alison Lee

Jim and Alison were the first husband-and-wife team to gain national recognition drag racing. Beginning in 1961, there career spanned 22 years, during which time Jim and Alison set for national NHRA records between 1966 in 1970, winning five NHRA divisional titles and finishing in the top ten of both NHRA and IHRA for seven consecutive years (1975-1981). Jim was a driver for the first four years, then utilized seven different drivers during the ensuing 18 years, which make their accomplishments more amazing. Alison learned to become a master mechanic along with Jim as attested to by their winning the 1971 Car Craft Magazine" Dragster Crew Chief" award.

lee shepherd

Lee Sheperd

Lee began racing successfully as a sportsman driver in the late 1960s. He won his first national event at the 1974 Winternationals in Modified Eliminator. The dominant pro stcok driver in the early 1980s, Lee was a four-time NHRA Winston World Champion winning the title from 1981-1984. During that period, he had a win loss record of 158 wins and 29 losses for and 84% winning record. In 1982, he went to 11 of 12 final rounds and won the title by over 4000 points. Although he did not win the title in 1980, did beat eventual champion Bob Glidden six out of nine times that season. During his career, Shepard won an amazing 27 NHRA national events and, although considered a great driver, Lee was also a very gifted cylinder head specialist. Sadly, Lee Shepard was killed in a Pro Stock trading session in 1985.


Mopar Logo 1991

The Sixth Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame ceremony was held on Thursday, March 14th in the Grand Ballroom of the Radisson Hotel Gainesville, in Gainesville Florida.

2020 HOF

Scotty Fenn

Fenn's Chassis Research was the first firm to manufacturer dragsters on a production line basis. While residing in Oklahoma in 1955, Scotty fabricated two chassis, one of which was later sold to Cook and Bedwell. Fenn was a proponent of the short wheel base. Either complete or in kit form, he sold hundreds of chassis denominated as K-88, TE-440, and LW-106s. Leonard Harris won the 1960 NHRA Nationals in a Chassis Research machine and Fenn remain the leading commercial chassis fabricator until Superseded by fellow Hall Of Famer Kent Fuller.

Kent Fuller

Kent Fuller

Fenn's Chassis Research was the first firm to manufacturer dragsters on a production line basis. While residing in Oklahoma in 1955, Scotty fabricated two chassis, one of which was later sold to Cook and Bedwell. Fenn was a proponent of the short wheel base. Either complete or in kit form, he sold hundreds of chassis denominated as K-88, TE-440, and LW-106s. Leonard Harris won the 1960 NHRA Nationals in a Chassis Research machine and Fenn remain the leading commercial chassis fabricator until Superseded by fellow Hall Of Famer Kent Fuller.

A black and white photo of a man holding a tennis racket.

Woody Gilmore

Woody learned the art of chassis fabrication in the Southern California aircraft industry. Although his initial frames were rigid like Fullers, he would become the foremost exponent on flexibility. His firm, Race Car Engineering, eventually built hundreds of "flexie flyers" for customers California and across the country. In the mid-60s, there were events in which virtually the entire field was made up of "Woody" chassis. Gilmore also collaborated with Jocko Johnson in the development of a fully streamlined slingshot dragster. Woody also built (for Jim Dunn) the only mid-engine funny car ever to win a major event.

Joe Hrudka

Joe Hrudka

Joe began racing in the 50s driving a coupe Midwest. After encountering the same gasket problem everyone else was facing, he had a few special compound caskets made. Before long, other racers were having Joe get these gaskets made for them. He sold the gaskets out of his car at the races soon Mr. Gasket. Mr. Gasket was one of the first companies to have a support rig at the races, working on everything from clutches to suspension parts. Joe and his companies would continue to develop equipment that has provided greater performance and safety for all forms of racing.

An older man participating in drag racing, wearing a white t-shirt and smiling.

Bob Metzler

No single promoter in the history of the sport is better known for their outrageous and original drag shows. Every new exhibition vehicle as well as fuel, funny, and jet car owners knew that to get a good start and a sure booking, one call to Broadway Bob was the key. Bob is best known for his Olympics of Drag Racing show staged over the Memorial Day weekend each year. Ever the "fan's man", this colorful and innovative promoter made Great Lakes Dragway a Midwest racing mecca. Broadway Bob's shows at Union Grove are always ones to remember.

Jim Jazzy Nelson

Jim Nelson

"Jazzy" was a dry lakes competitor before World War II, then for three years in the mid-50s campaigned a Fiat coupe that was among the most memorable drag machines of its era. Thanks to trick pieces, such as a billet stroker, he was able to remain competitive with the OHV machines longer than any other flathead. His Topolino was credited with being the first to the 10 seconds. At the first NHRA Nationals in 1955, Nelson's ET was eclipsed only by Lloyd Scott's Bustle Bomb. Before retiring, Jazzy campaigned a unique side-by-side twin flathead dragster.

Jimmy Nix

Jimmy Nix

If there was ever a drag racer who never lost his passion for the sport, it was Jimmy Nix. Jimmy was doing what he loved to do most-race fast cars. He adapted to every transition the sport encountered. In his final seasons, he was always among the quickest and fastest top fuel contestants, without major corporate backing. During his career, Nix set records for different classes: top fuel, top gas, A/Gas dragster, and Super Factory Experimental. He won numerous individual events, including the 1965 NHRA Winternationals and the 1966 NHRA Springnationals. In 1965 he pushed the top fuel mph record to 208.32 and, 25 years later, became the 11th driver to join Top Fuel Four Second Club.


Gary Ormsby

Gary started racing top-fuel dragsters in the early 60s. After years of racing with the "Sacramento Bunch", Gary was able to set up with some money from his own business interests and then added sponsorships that put into practice some of his ideas. Of all his ideas, he is probably best remembered for his streamlining concepts which came to reality in 1984. Though the Castrol streamliner did not perform to expectations, it generated tremendous exposure for his sponsors and the sport as a whole. In 1989, he ran history's quickest ET 4.91 seconds, fastest speed 294.88 mph, and a record-tying six NHRA events en route to the 1989 NHRA World Championship. Gary would win his last NHRA event on May 19, 1991. Sadly, he would lose the battle with cancer in August 1991.

A drag racing enthusiast proudly holds two carburetors in front of him.

Ed Pink

Fellow Hall of Fame Lou Baney gets the credit for hooking the talented Ed Pink into drag racing. After running a dry lakes car at El Mirage, became involved in drag racing in 1953. Ed has been responsible for many of the innovations in auto racing for over 30 years. One of his early successes was working with Ford on a new 427 CID/SOHC drag engine. It became the most powerful and winning engine in the top fuel dragster and funny car classes in the mid-60s. Prudhomme's six-second suite of the 1967 Springnationals and Barry Seltzer's 6.4 seconds funny car were the highlights of the project. Ed's engines and components dominated funny car for years, with legends Prudhomme, Schumacher, McCulloch, and Beadle as customers. Pink's Van Nuys shop is instrumental in developing power plants for in the indy/CART, USAC, and IMSA among others.

Mike Snively

Mike Snively

Mike was one of the most naturally gifted drivers to pilot a fuel dragster or funny car. Starting at a somewhat modest level in the early 60s, Snively drove the Scotty's Muffler Special small block entry to many local wins. A brief stint in the Sandoval Brothers top fuel machine led to the progression into Ed Pink's "Old Master", Roland Leong's "Hawaiian", and ultimately to "Diamond Jim" fuel and funny car machines of Jim Annin. His 5.97 in Annin's car at the NHRA Supernationals in Ontario is widely accepted as the first official five second run at an NHRA event. Mike was gifted fabricator and served as a key member of Black's operation until his premature passing in 1974.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 1997 International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 6th in the Grand Ballroom of the Radisson Gainesville, located Gainesville Florida.

2020 HOF

Buster Couch

In his role as official starter Buster was easily the most recognizable and often the most popular NHRA official. In his 32-year career, Eddie H "Buster" Couch ruled the starting line with an iron fist and a heart of gold. When Buster began his career, races were started with flags and a driver's edge was often maintain by intimidating the starter. With a pro football player's physique, and the demeanor of a Southern Sheriff, that didn't work with Buster. When the Christmas tree electronic starting system replaced the flags, many thought that a colorful part of drag racing was gone forever. But Buster's expressive hand gestures and finger-pointing at those who pushed the envelope of his authority quickly put the notion to rest. It's been estimated that Buster started nearly a million drag races. He ducked (and been hit by) flying parts, had his ear drums assaulted, been coated with tiny flecks of burned rubber, and inhaled enough nitro to float a battleship. He stood between the lanes when Don Garlits broke 250 and 270 mph, and when Kenny Bernstein broke 300 mph. Buster watched during countless battles between archrivals like Garlits versus Muldowney and McEwen versus Prudhomme. He was never afraid to shut off or red light the biggest star when necessary, yet he was nearly brought to tears when they crashed. For 15 years, Buster served as NHRA's Southeast Division Director, but from 1963 through 1995 he was as much a part of drag racing as the pavement itself.

2020 HOF

John Farkonas (????-2014),
Austin Coil & Pat Minick (????-2017)
"The Chi-Town Hustler"

An ordinary garage on an ordinary alley,on the southwest side Chicago was the unlikely home most successful match raced funny car of all time. Originally superstock racers, mechanical engineer John Farkonas and his driver Chicago area policeman Pat Minick were racing and altered wheelbase '65 Plymouth with fellow Mopar racer and line mechanic Austin Coil joinied them to build a tube chassied, fiber glass bodied '67 Barracuda, a car many consider the first, modern supercharged funny car. The unknown team called their car the "Chi-Town Hustler" and towed it to the York US 30 Funny Car Nationals where they set low ET of the meet and a new strip record. The combination of Farkonas' engineering knowledge applied to chassis and body, Coils development of the high compression "big boost" fuel motor, and Minick's prowess as both driver and promoter soon built a reputation. With nearly thirty drag strips within an eight-hour drive, the team could race as frequently as they wanted and still be home in time for work. Early in 1969, the old Barracuda was retired and replaced with a slick new Charger. In August at a marginal 1/8-mile strip in Springfield, Illinois, Coil theorized that softening of the slicks by spinning them through water might improve traction. Minick broke the tires loose and felt so good that he had them all away through the lights; nearly causing a spectator riot. The patented Hustler long, smoky burnout was born. The Charger clinched the UDRA and IHRA championships and dazzled the West Coast and its first appearance. In 1971, Minick left the driver seat, but remained active in the partnership as did Farkonas who had semi-retired. A succession of Hustlers and drivers including Claire Sanders and Ron Colson continued the tradition through the 70s. After 15 years on the match raced circuit, the Chi-Town Hustler, with Frank Hawlwyt at the wheel, won NHRA Winston Funny Car Championship in 1982 and 1983. In 1984 Hustler was retired and Austin coil joined John Force guiding him to several NHRA Funny Car Championship titles.

2020 HOF

George (196-2003) & Ruth Hoover (1906-1993)

All racers with love to have a supportive family, few have had the good fortune enjoyed by Tom Hoover. Tom has been drag racing on a professional level for well over 30 years and his parents have been along for nearly the entire ride. When Tom began his infatuation with cars, his father George worked on them at his Hoover Wheel Alignment shop in Minneapolis, but really didn't pay that much attention. However, when Tom turned up with ex-"Big Wheel" dragster, it aroused the curiosity of this lifelong mechanic. Well into his 50s, the senior Hoover became hooked on drag racing. Tom's mother Ruth, decided that she wasn't going to be left behind and got completely involved in every part of the operation from washing uniforms, filming races, to acting as the team social director. "Ma and Pa Hoover", as they called themselves, pitched in and did whatever it took to get the job done. George established himself as a crew chief and in the late 60s along with Pete Robinson and Connie Kalitta help to develop the Single Overhead Cam Ford for drag racing. Driving the truck, seeing to the crew’s needs, and doing promotional chores were all the things done by "Ma and Pa" at an age when most folks are rocking on the front porch. Married in 1925 George and Ruth were into their 68th year together when Ruth passed away in January 1993. Of course, this was a tremendous blow to the entire Hoover family, but George has worked hard all his life and has simply carried on despite the loss and health problems. At 91 George was still a vital part of the Hoover/Pioneer Funny Car team continuing to travel to most NHRA national events and perform nearly all of Tom's cylinder head and piston/rod work. The Hoovers rate as Minnesota's-if it's not America's-first family of drag racing.

2020 HOF

Vance Hunt

Although he had only a brief driving career, Vance Hunt's name became synonymous with Southwest top fuel racing. For years, his cars bore the legend "Texas quickest and fastest". Beginning in the mid-50s with a stocker followed by a '41 Ford altered, Hunt put the Chrysler out of his coupe into a dragster owned by Ed Mabry which the team raced for several years. In 1960 fuel racing beckoned Hunt but not Maybry, so JL Payne was hired to drive. Together they defeated both Chris Karamesines and Don Garlits for the number one spot on the Drag News Mr. Eliminator list and won the 1962 AHRA Nationals at Green Valley Texas. It was at Green Valley that Hunt and Payne handed the nearly invincible Greer, Black and Prudhomme machine its first defeat. Although a top-notch fuel racer, Hunt never gave up his "real job" at the General Motors plant in Arlington and spent many weekend nights towing across the Southwest to make race dates, often getting home just in time to go to work on Monday morning. Payne left Hunt in 1963 and was replaced by several drivers including the late Ted Arnold, Jerry Ellis, a young Kenny Bernstein, and Watts Samson. In the mid-60s, Hunr once again regained ranking on the Mr. Eliminator list and later even ran both a fuel dragster and funny car for a time. In 1971 Hunts car made the semifinals at the Bakersfield US Fuel and Gas Championship shortly before his retirement from racing.

2020 HOF

Chris Karamesines

Call him the "Crazy Greek", the "Golden Greek", or simply "The Greek". For nearly forty years these nicknames symbolize one of the most colorful and popular characters in drag racing history. In the days of the front engine tire smoking fuelers, there was no one more fun to watch. As early as 1960, he had established a reputation as a fearless driver. In the days before guardrails he could veer off the strip, get back in the groove and often still beat his opponent. Sideways at 180 or powering out of a wheelstand in one of his famous "Chizlers", it was all the same to the Greek. His first major victory came at the 1959 AHRA Nationals in Great Bend Kansas. Along with Don Garlits and Tommy Ivo, he pioneered the concept of the touring professional drag racer. On April 24, 1960, Chris stood the drag racing world on its ear when he was credited with a 204.54 mph pass at Alton, Illinois. Controversial to be sure, coming years before consistent 200 mph times, nonetheless it cemented the Greek's name in history. Drag racing rose to a new level of recognition when the 204 mph Chizler was enshrined in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry for many years before moving to its permanent home at the Museum of Drag Racing. In the 1960s and 70s Karamesines was known as the Admiral of the "Greek Fleet", a loosely knit group of such colorful touring racers as John Weibe, Bob Creitz, Don Cook, and Jim Nicoll. After over 30 years of match racing and running IHRA and AHRA races, Karamesines actively pursued the 1990 NHRA Winston Point chase. Two runner-up finishes, that year, proved he still had the drive to win.

2020 HOF

Art Malone (1936-2013)

When Art Malone visited his lifelong friend Don Garlits in the hospital in 1959, Art offered to drive his dragster, and his life changed forever. Having only experience in circle track stock-car racing, Malone was immediately tagged "The Green Kid '' byKid" by Hall of Famer Setto Postoian (the same man who named Garlits the "Swap Rat"). Green or not, he quickly established that he had what it took, and spent the next two years learning drag racing from his old friend. But, Art Malone cannot be defined by drag racing alone. In 1961, became the first man to lap the Daytona International Speedway at over 180 mph. Driving a blown Chrysler powered wing equipped Indy roadster, he became the world's closed course record holder at 181.561 mph. By 1963, he had been dubbed "The Colonel'' by Ed Iskenderian, was number one on the Drag News Mr. Eliminator list, runner-upped to Garlits at the NHRA Winternationals, won the Bakersfield Fuel and Gas Championships, the AHRA Nationals, and drove one of the fabled NOVI V-8's in the Indianapolis 500. As he put it so simply to Garlits: "They've all got four wheels and an engine". Eventually, he finished eleventh at Indy, drove on the USAC Championship Trail, he owned a series of fuel dragsters, several oval track stockers, a gas dragster, a drag boat, a funny car, and a jet dragster before retiring from driving in 1975. In 1984, Garlits and Malone were reunited as a drag racing team, taking Swap Rat 26 out of the Garlits Museum to win the NHRA US Nationals and NHRA World Finals, launching one of the greatest comebacks in auto racing history.

2020 HOF

Frank Pedregon (1940-1981)

Although he was almost exclusively a local Southern California racer, nearly every fan of drag racing in the 1960s helped the legend of "Flamin Frank" Pedregon. Frank's "Taco Taster" competition coupe (actually a fuel dragster thinly disguised with a radically chopped Fiat body) would often produce flames completely filling the rear wheel wells and surrounding the slicks in a ring of fire as the Chrysler powered coupe thundered down the strip at Lions or San Fernando. Showmanship was coming into the sport and eventually gas and other additives were used to produce spectacular "fire burnouts". Pedregon apparently used no chemicals and often produced fire nearly the entire length of the strip. Frank was not just a showman but a hard racer on a limited budget. He built his own engines, chassis, and even the trailers they were hauled on. Fiercely proud of his Mexican ancestry, he billed himself as "The World's Fastest Mexican" and wore t-shirts advertising "Genuine Mexican Parts". The flames, he claimed, were caused by "just good old Mexican horsepower". He later teamed up to drive Joe Winter's top fuel dragster, but with Winter's health began to fail and he eventually lost his battle with cancer, Frank lost his desire to race. Pedregon subsequently lost his life in a private plane crash but left the sport a tremendous legacy of three fine racers in their own right: Frank Jr, Cruz, and Tony Pedregon.

2020 HOF

Shirley Shahan

When Shirley Shahan won the Stock Eliminator title at the 1966 Winternationals, she became the first woman to ever win a NHRA National event. This pioneering effort made it possible for her to become the first professional drag racer. She had married HL Shahan at seventeen and accompanied him to race his '58 Chevy. She learned to handle stick shift well enough in her street racing days that she won the Super Stock class at the first Bakersfield US Fuel and Gas Championships in 1959. In 1963 "H" bought a Z-11 aluminum bodied 427 Chevy and Shirley became the regular driver. In 1965, with some backing from Chrysler, they bought the Plymouth Super Stocker which "H" maintained along with Butch Leal's altered wheelbase machine. Sam Petock, the Plymouth Public Relations Director, came up with the "Drag-On-Lady" title that stuck throughout her career. They did well enough racing the Plymouth that Shirley was able to quit her job and tour the country for four years, running in Super Stock. In 1969 she was offered a factory AMC Super Stock deal and eventually a Pro Stocker when that class was created. In late 1972, then husband, HL, put together a circle track program that was more profitable than the AMC deal, effectively ending Shirley's driving career.

2020 HOF

Bob Skinner (1941-2015), Tom Jobe (1940-2019) and Mike Sorokin (1939-1967) "The Surfers"

In early 1964, when a trio of young guys wearing shaggy hair, Pendleton shirts, and deck tennies unloaded their brand-new fuel dragster at Lions Dragstrip, old-timer Don Madden immediately branded them "The Surfers". Looking like they just stepped off a Beach Boys album cover, using a yellow and white '55 Chevy tow car with a good luck twig on the hood ornament, that nickname was a natural. They didn't win much at first, but the cackle of their Chrysler made it obvious to anyone that someday this would be a team to reckon with. In just over two years, the trio of Bob Skinner, Tom Jobe, and driver Mike Sorokin (who lived on their race cars winnings while attending college) had established themselves as perhaps the greatest and most popular independent team in top fuel history. After winning top fuel purses at all the southern Californian tracks in 1964 and 1965, including Mickey Thompson's $2500 "200 MPH Club”, the Surfers were able to defeat a field of 102 fuelers at the 1966 Bakersfield March Meet. The team would bank $5560 to set a world record 7.34 second ET. They were short on money but long on talent, and their outlook on racing was definitely refreshing. They had apparently learned the secret to running straight nitro because, engineering student Jobe reasoned, "we were tired of replacing those expensive hydrometers". Their first engine lasted a year "because it had to". Their car had a 157" wheelbase because "that's what would fit in the garage". In the summer of 1966, they toured successfully from coast-to-coast and once even at two different match races at the same track on the same day. That fall, having had their day in the sun, Skinner and Jobe put everything up for sale. Sorokin lost his life in a top fuel clutch explosion and crash at Orange County in December 1967.

2020 HOF

Fred Stone (1927-1981), Tim Woods (1917-1995) and Doug Cook (1932-1999)

In the early 1960s, the supercharged gas coupes were a drag racing attraction as popular as funny cars are today. Anyone who ever saw and heard one of the little prewar coupes with the blower scoop sticking through the hood will never forget them. Arguably, the most famous of them all was the '41 Willys coupe campaign by the team of Fred Stone, Tim Woods, and Doug "Cookie" Cook. Tim Woods, a successful Los Angeles building contractor, raced a series of Oldsmobiles from the infancy of organized drag racing at Santa Ana. In 1960, when the trend to smaller and lighter cars began, Tim built his coupe in partnership with Fred Stone, another LA businessman with whom he often worked. When their driver, KS Pittman, chose to develop his time to his own Willys, Woods recruited Jesse Duglas Cook who had been driving his own gasser's. One of the most famous teams in drag racing history was formed in time for the 1961 US Nationals. Tim was the principal owner and acted as manager (although his son Leonard's name appeared on the car), and his Willys was the first to break into the ten and nine second brackets, and the first over 150 mph. The tough competition in the class led to a series of (sometimes) humorous ads in the trade papers which became known as the "Gasser Wars". Stone placed the ads and acted as publicity agent for the team. The ads were great promotional tools and led to the match races from coast-to-coast until funny cars began to steal the limelight. The car was so well promoted that most people were surprised to find that Stone and Woods were one of the few black teens in drag racing. To them it wasn't an issue; they were more interested in racing and winning. In 1967 the team built a Mustang funny car which Doug crashed at Alton, Illinois in September, ending his driving career. Funny cars continued to be raced under the Stone, Woods and Cook name until 1972. Fred Stone was in the import export business when he died in England in 1982. Tim Woods was retired when he died in October 1995. Doug Cook Would go on to build engines and wrench on son Mike's near 300 MPH Bonneville Thunderbird.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 8th Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 5th in the Grand Ballroom of the Radisson Gainesville, located Gainesville Florida.

A portrait of Gary Beck

Gary Beck

In 1972, Gary Beck did the impossible. Just three weeks after earning his top fuel license and in only his second event at the wheel, the rookie from Edmonton, Alberta, one NHRA US Nationals. The win was slightly cloudy because many of the top racers attended the PRO National Challenge, so to prove it was no fluke, Gary simply repeated his win at the 1973 US Nationals, the 1974 Winternationals, both AHRA and NHRA Springnationals, and the 1974 Grandnational. In addition, he was runer-up at the 1973 NHRA World Finals, set low ET, and was runner-up the 1974 Gatornationals in only his second full year top fuel racing, the Canadian with the long hair peeking out from under his leather "five second" hat won the NHRA World Championship winning 22 of 26 rounds he raced in 1974. In 1980, he teamed with car owner Larry Minor and became the first driver in the 5.60s, 5.50s, 5.40s, and 5.30s ET. In 1983, the team of Beck, Minor, and crew chief Bernie Fedderly totally dominated top fuel racing, winning four NHRA National events, setting low ET at 10 of the 12 events that season, winning the US Nationals yet again, as well as Gary's second NHRA World Championship. From September 1982 to October 1983, Beck recorded 17 quickest elapsed times in history, dominated the sport like no other driver before or since.

Photo of Robert Cahill

Bob Cahill (1944-2011)

Bob Cahill's first experience with drag racing came when he made a personal appearance at Dodge-Plymouth dealership in Great Bend Kansas, to introduce the revolutionary new Polyspherical V-8 during the first NHRA Nationals in 1955. Although a quiet guy who watched from the sidelines, he knew the value of racing and winning when it came to new car sales. After all, he grew up in the shadow of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was Bob's interest in motorsports that revived an old Chrysler trademark, Mopar, to become the performance arm of the corporation. While working in Product Planning in the mid-60s, Cahill created the Chrysler Performance and Safety Clinics which featured appearances by Sox and Martin for Plymouth and Dick Landy for Chrysler dealerships throughout the country. Between race dates, drivers gave tips and advice, to enthusiast on the merits of their respective brands cars, specifically performance equipment and drag racing in general. It was these clinics that help prove that drag racing had finally emerged from its greasy Levi's image to a true product of high-performance development.

Roger Coburn

Roger Coburn (1922-2010)

Legend has it that in the early 60s members of several fuel dragster teams would post themselves on the highway between Bakersfield and LA on race dates to find out where the little blue Chevy powered Warren and Coburn dragster was headed so they could race elsewhere. Thus, was born the title "Ridge Route Terrors" proudly carried by Roger Coburn and his long-time driver/partner James Warren during their 23 seasons together. Coburn's 6'7" presence is punctuated by a few words, but his engines and unusual combinations did plenty of the talking for him.  The team began racing in the late '50s with an unusual rear engine Chrysler dragster; went on to a twin-engine Chrysler and Chevy combination, the Chevy fuelerthat capitalized on every bit of available tire technology to terrorize the big Chrysler's. Coburn finally partner with Marvin Miller in a long series of "Rain for Rent Special's" that won their prestigious hometown event, the Bakersfield US Fuel and Gas Championships, four times including three in a row! They were the first to record back up speeds 230 mph, winning four NHRA Pacific Division titles and numerous NHRA and AHRA national events before or Warren retired from driving in 1981. Although they rarely venture from Southern California, Coburn tuned machines were always considered among the toughest country.

Peggy Hart

Peggy Hart (1914-1980)

It's always difficult to say who was the very first to accomplish a feat of human endeavor, but it's certainly safe to say Peggy Hart was one of the first women to drive a "hot" car in competition on an organized drag strip. Of course, it helped that her husband CJ was operator of Santa Ana, the first commercial drag strip in history. She not only helped operate the strip, but drove the family stocker in competition, then a Cadillac powered Model T roadster, a Willys gas coupe, and, finally, turned more than 130 mph in "Pappy's" Cad-powered gas dragster in 1954. She even drove at El Mirage dry lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats. Peggy was truly CJ's partner in life, and business, and is a pioneer in the development of organized drag racing.

Dick Landy

Dick Landy (1938-2007)

Mopar fans would be shocked to learn that Dick Landy's drag racing career began at the wheel of a 56 Ford pickup. More Fords followed with backing from his first sponsor, Andy Andrews, the man who gave him his first trademark cigar. HIs tune-up, driving prowess, and personal demeanor made him a natural for a factory deal. He was offered a 413 Plymouth in 1962, and it has been nothing but Chrysler ever since. Landy started the 1964 season with a wedge hardtop but, when the Hemi was introduced mid-year, things began to change rapidly. The factory performance wars were heating up and all kinds of tricks were tried to stay ahead of the competition, including solid axles and altered wheelbases. By 1965, the front and rear axles were moved so far forward that "Landy's Dodge" was one of the first prompt the name funny car. His bumper scraping wheelstands, resin burnthroughs, and ever-present giant cigar made him a big hit with the fans. He traveled nearly 100,000 miles match racing the big Coronet. In a very short time, Landy so-called stockers had gone from 130 mph on gasoline to 196 mph on fuel. When the flip top tube framed funnies were produced, Landy and Chrysler had enough. They both felt race car should still have doors and be within the reach of the average enthusiast. Chrysler's Product Planning Division decided to create a series of performance clinics at showrooms throughout the country, and Landy, back in a super stock, was selected as the Dodge representative. In 1967 alone, Landy conducted more than 70 clinics for 50,000 people in 29 states. Landy made a great many friends and customers for Chrysler and raced as many as seven different cars in a single season. In 1970, Landy was in on the ground floor of Pro Stock racing, winning AHRA Championships in 1973 and 1974.

Leslie Lovett

Leslie Lovette (1942-1996)

Although he never drove or turned a wrench on a race car, in an esteemed 30-year career, Leslie Lovette touched as many lives as anyone in the world of drag racing. As a drag racing photographer, he had no peer in skill or enthusiasm. Although he began his career photographing local circle track and drag racing events in Arkansas and Oklahoma, his obvious talent soon carried him to the staff of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated magazines where he attracted national attention with his innovative way of capturing the action-filled sport he loved on film. In 1968, he convinced Wally Parks that NHRA needed a full-time photographer and spent the last 28 years of his life as photo editor of National Dragster. Although he was considered the dean of drag racing photographers, he was always willing to share his skills with the novice. He treated every racer, whether the lowest ranked sportsman racer or the Top Fuel World Champion, as an important person, a friend, and someone he was proud to know. He constantly developed new ways of photographing drag racing, while always in search of his elusive greatest photo. Although he passed on well before he was finished, the great body of work he left behind will stand the test of time to record the history of drag racing and as a living monument to Leslie Lovette.

Dode Martin

Dode Martin (1925-2018)

The quarter half of the Dragmaster team, Dorrin "Dode" Martin did not find himself in the limelight as much as his partner, Jim Nelson. Like Nelson, his hot-rodding career began on the dry lakes Southern California. When organized drag racing began, Martin was in on the ground floor with his own crude dragster and his duels with the "Bean Bandits" at Paradise Mesa were as good as any rivalry since. In the mid-50s, he and Nelson teamed up to build the "Dragliner", one of the first dragsters to feature an enclosed canopy and full-body. They won "Best Engineered" honors at the 1957 NHRA Nationals, as well as C/Dragster class win. The performance and high-quality workmanship lead others to seek their talents. They set up shop as the Dragmaster Company in 1958 with Martin working full time and Nelson initially helping on a part-time basis. The partnership of Nelson's engine building and machine skills combined with Martin's fabrication and welding expertise formed an ideal team. Dragmaster build everything from components to turnkey race cars. Approximately 300 Dragmaster chassis were built and the customer roster included the names of Hall of Famers like: Ted Cyr, Raymond Godman, Danny Ongais, Pete Robinson, and Mickey Thompson. Their own cars, like "Two Thing" and the "Dragmaster Dart", won numerous engineering, safest constructed, and top speed awards as well as top fuel Eliminator the 1962 NHRA Winternationals and Top Gas at the 1963 AHRA Winternationals. Not just partners in business, in the early years Dode and Jim traded off driving on every run, whether it was a qualifying pass or a top eliminator contest. In 1964, under contract from Chrysler, they built the supercharged Dodge Chargers exhibition vehicle which many consider the first funny cars.

Tome Mcewen

Tom McEwen (1937-2018)

There is probably no man in drag racing history who has driven more different cars than Tom McEwen. From his mother's Oldsmobile, which he snuck out to race at Santa Ana, to corporate sponsored top fuel dragsters and funny cars, McEwen saw it all in a driving career which spanned nearly four decades. One of the first to realize the value of non-automotive sponsorship, McEwen theorized that "a big following and good performance is better for the sponsor than big wins and no following". In 1964, the late Ed Donovan called him "Mongoose" after a match race win over rival Don "Snake" Prudhomme, and the nickname was to bring him fame and fortune the rest of his career. In 1969, together with Prudhomme, he formed Wildlife Racing and through a connection at the Mattel Toy Company he negotiated the biggest sponsorship deal of that time in drag racing history. The Hot Wheels team with both drivers racing top fuel and funny cars lasted three years. McEwen's wits and showmanship were the perfect contrast to the intense Prudhomme; thus millions of Hot Wheels toys were sold. When it ended, McEwen was already prepared with other corporate sponsors who supported his racing efforts into the 1990s. Despite his apparent carefree lifestyle, a little-known fact is that he spent countless hours visiting kids in hospitals and raised thousands of dollars for the Leukemia Society in memory of his son Jamie. He won dozens of big races but perhaps, he will best be remembered for bringing drag racing into thousands of homes which had never heard of it, helping make it the major sport it is today.

Connie Swingle

Connie Swingle (1935-2007)

Connie Swingle came from Oklahoma in 1959 and went to Garlits' shop on Nebraska Avenue and made the announcement, "I'm ready to weld"! From that day on, some of the finest dragsters ever produce were welded by Swingle, containing some very trick innovations on cars. Garlits' Swamp Rat III driven by Swingle was the first dragster in sevens with a 7.99 ET at 198.88 mph in Blaney, South Carolina. Swingle’s other important cars were Swamp Rat VI the first dragster officially over 200 mph, Swamp Rat VIII the first 426 dragster to run 219 mph, and Swamp Rat 14 the first successful rear engine dragster and clearly the most important contribution drag racing. Though Garlits was given credit for the innovation that would change the sport forever, it was Swingle’s craftsmanship and perseverance that kept the team going back to the track over and over until the car handled correctly. Swingle was also a driver in his own right. He drove Swamp Rat III to over 25 track records. Driving for Ed Pink in 1966, he outran Garlits for the Mickey Thompson 200 MPH Meet at Fontana, California. He also tests drove the "Yellow Fang" for Ed Roth and the "Piranha" for AMT in the late 60s. Big Daddy has summarized Connie's career by adding, "I couldn't have done it without him".

Doug Thorley

Doug Thorley (1928-2021)

Doug Thorley's driving career ranged from a stock '38 Buick to an upset Funny Car Eliminator victory at the US Nationals. But perhaps, when all is said and done, it won't be his own race cars or his driving prowess he will remembered. Throughout the 60s the legend "Headers by Doug" was a true status symbol on the side of any full-bodied drag race car. When racing ended for the winter in the east, the early super stock and FX racers migrated to the west coast, and Thorley's shop on Whittler Boulevard in East LA was literally surrounded by ramp trucks. A few passes in customer cars led Doug to build his first altered wheelbase "Chevy 2 Much" injected four-speed funny car. Its performance and immaculate appearance made it one of the most steadily booked cars on the coast. When the tube-framed flip-top funnies were created, Doug stepped up to an extended nose Corvair entry built by Ronnie Scrima and Pat Forster and powered by a Gary Slusserbuilt blown big block Chevrolet. At the 1967 US Nationals, Doug's unlikely, unsponsored, non-flip top Corvair ran in high sevens consistently and beat several factory backed machines for the title. His 7.69 ET and 192 mph performance was largely responsible for the rapid switch to blowers in the funny car ranks. Doug later built an innovative pair of Javelin- bodied rear-engine funny cars with AMC backing, but when the factory asked him to participate in their Super Stock program he retired from driving. He just couldn't slow down.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 9th Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 18th in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel located in Gainesville Florida.

Paul Candies

Paul Candies (1939-2013) & Leonard Hughes

For over a quarter-century, the Louisiana based of Candies and Hughes raced both top fuel and funny cars, becoming the first team to win titles in both divisions. Their partnership included over two dozen race cars which combined to win over 45 major events. Although the first-class team was always able to attract major sponsors, they became known as" The Wrench" and the "The Wallet", with Hughes initially doing the driving and tuning, and Candies the financing. Their later drivers were the best of the sport had to offer, including: "Q-Ball" Wales, Larry Reyes, Leroy Goldstein, Dave Settles, Richard Tharp, and Mark Oswald. Beginning in 1964 Super Stock Plymouth, the pair moved up to the altered wheelbase ancestors of today's funny cars. By 1968, their full-fledged tube-framed race car, tuned and driven by Hughes, seemed able to earn top speed honors wherever it ran. The teams first national win came at the 1970 Gatornationals as part of another milestone. The first time two cars from the same team appeared in an NHRA national event file, it was Leonard in the team’s new '70 Cajun Cuda over Reyes in the '69 version. Not only were they beautiful, but fast as well. In 1971 and 1972, the two-car team featured one for Hughes at national events and the other for Goldstein to match raced. In 1973, Candies and Hughes team raced both funny car and a top fuelers. Hughes retired from the cockpit Goldstein reached the final round in both categories at the IHRA Longhorn Nationals in Dallas, scoring a win in top fuel. Like their funny cars, the team's dragsters,which served as test vehicles for the Keith Black Hemi, seemed able to set top speed almost at will. The team continued as a major force in fuel racing with Richard Tharp winning the NHRA Top Fuel Championship in 1976 and Mark Oswald the NHRA Funny Car Championship in 1984. Drag racing's version of the" Odd Couple" retired in the mid-90s after racking up and enviable record, including five IHRA Championships, to NHRA Championships, and nine top five seasons.

Bob creitz

Bob Creitz (1930-2011)

Known as the engine wizard, inventor of the burnout, and the most prominent top fuel racer in Oklahoma, Creitz was a member of the unofficial group of hard-core fuel racers known as the “Greek Fleet". Bob opened Creitz Automotive, the state's first speed shop, with his brother Jim in the mid-50s after moving from their native Topeka. As a hobby,Creitz and Ed Garrett built a gas dragster using a duplicate K88 chassied with a blown Oldsmobile for power. The Scrima chassied fuelerl which followed won several big meets and reached number nine on Drag News Mr. Eliminator list with Gene Goleman at the wheel. Creitz teamed with Ed Greer on a beautiful Hannah bodied Woody car which Vic Brown drove to an NHRA national record 7.26 et. Goleman returned to the Creitz and Greer seat, and runner-upped at the 1967 Winternationals. Later that year, Brown drove Creitz's car to the first six second pass in NHRA history. In 1968, Brown won the last 64-car top fuel show ever held, the PDA Meet, at Orange County. Creitz teamed with manufacturer Ed Donovan and driver Steve Carbone for his first event victory at the inaugural PHR Championships in 1969 at Martin Michigan. Creitz had his "elephant gun" 392 (designed to combat the late model 426) loaded for bear. When the car died after the burnout, Creitz and crew incredibly pulled the car backwards by hand fast enough to re-fire it, winning that race as well as AHRA World Finals in Tulsa. Richard Tharp replaced Carbone in 1970 and achieved a match race win record of over 80%. In the early '70s, Creitz joined Lloyd Dill with Vic Brown driving. At the '72 Supernationals, they were runner-ups after defeating Mike Snively on his historic 5.97 et pass. After 20 years of hard racing, Creitz, one of the sports great practical jokers and pyrotechnicians, retired to the shop in Tulsa, which would serve as a pit stop for area racers past and present.

Dale Ham

Dale Ham (1931-2012)

The headline of the Amarillo times in 1940 read, "Wolflin In Arms Over Hot Rods". The story concerned rampant street racing emanating from the drive-in on Wolflin Avenue. That was Dale Ham's introduction to the activity which would be his life's work for nearly three decades. Dale was part of America's post war love affair with the automobile and he built a series of hot rods, each a little nicer and faster than the last. He joined the Barons of Amarillo along with fellow drag racing pioneers such as Jack Moss. He was there in June 1954 when the NHRA Drag Safari put on a meet at Caddo Mills. When the first NHRA Nationals were held at Great Bend Kansas, in 1955, Ham was there. It was his chance to see all the heroes from California who he had only read about in Hot Rod Magazine. He won the C Street Roadster class and set a national record at a staggering speed of 94.24 mph. It's a tossup whether Ham was more thrilled by his own performance or the fact that Mickey Thompson cut in front of him in the tech line. In the early days, dedication was the important factor and Ham was one of those most dedicated to making the dream of organized drag racing a reality. He wanted to be a part of so badly created a job for himself at Custom Car Supply in Amarillo which allowed him to be paid part-time at NHRA as a Regional Advisor. When the divisional system was created by NHRA in 1960, Ham was named to lead the South-Central Division. Assisted by his lovely wife, Glynanna, who served as Trophy Queen at the the 1959 Nationals, he used his dedication and creativity to organize his division and occasionally defended its honor with an iron fist. When the national events schedule began to grow, Ham, one of the best liked officials in drag racing, was given the task of pit control, a job he handled with his normal dedication and enthusiasm. Ham retired from NHRA in 1987, he excelled in the second career as a Western artist. NHRA's South Central division was nicknamed "Land of the Good Guys", and Dale Ham will always be Good Guy #1.

Allen Mudersbach

Allen "Lefty" Mudersbach (1931-1966)

Lefty Mudersbach's first drag racing experience came at Santa Ana in 1954 driving an 85 mile-per-hour '41 Ford. His name first became known to drag racing fans when the car he constructed in his native Phoenix, "The Money Oldsmobile Special", took Buddy Sampson to the Top Eliminator win at the 1957 NHRA Nationals in Oklahoma City. Soon thereafter, he moved to the Los Angeles area and from chassis of the Money Olds built a dragster of his own, powered by twin Chevy power plants mounted nose to tail in line. The cars unique torsion bar front suspension helped the car gain traction and predictable consistency. At the height of the "fuel ban", the Herbert and Mudersbach twin was a powerful factor on Southern California drag racing scene. At the 1961 US Fuel and Gas Championships in Bakersfield, Lefty took the Top Gas Eliminator honors at 8.50 seconds and 179 mph, then went on to defeat Ewell and Stecker unblown fueler for overall Top Eliminator honors. Later that year at the AHRA Nationals in Green Valley, Texas, lefty set top speed on gas and finished runner-up to Ed Garlits for Top Gas Eliminator. In 1962, turning to fuel, Lefty held both ends of the AHRA AA/Fuel record at 8.54 seconds and 185.18 mph. His car wored so well and was so consistent that he began manufacturing drag racing chassis by popular demand. Outstanding cars such as Manuel Gonzalez's Californian I and II machines, and the Warden and Cole fuel roadster used Lefty's Speed Shop Equipment. After retiring twin and splitting from Herbert, Lefty drove a lightweight single Chevy fueler. He loved to race so much that the 1964 Bakersfield March Meet program identified him as the driver "who has probably taken more rides down the quarter-mile than anyone else in the sport". Lefty lost his life in a crash at the AHRA Winternationals at Irwindale Raceway in 1966.

2020 HOF

Romeo Palamides (1926-1988) & Bob Smith (1938-2018)

Al “Romeo” Palamides and “Jet Car Bob” Smith both started as archetypal Caliornia hot rodders. Romeo began building his first hot rod at age 15 in his native Oakland and participated in all forms of the sport including: dry lakes, Bonneville, and even track roaster racing as a member of the Elmwood Auto Club. Always an innovator, Romeo constantly tried something new and despite their paramedical nature, his cars were always among the best appearing.He was among the first to use a tort converter in a dragster, as well as an on-board starter. His enclosed canopied, full-bodied dragster was named" America's Most Beautiful" at the Oakland Roadster Show in 1958. Romeo manufactured disc brakes and even a dual blower manifold under the Palamides Engineering banner. He was the first to manufacturer magnesium racing wheels principally for straightaway racing and founded the company which became American Racing. In 1962, Romeo moved his shop to Oakland Airport and built one of the first jet dragsters, called the "Untouchable". Smith joined the Rod and Wheelers of San Jose club with his customized '59 Chevy began driving career at the wheel of Sid Waterman's gas burning Chevrolet dragster. After three months, the money ran out and Bob moved to seat of Tom Prufer's Power King fueler. Waterman saved enough for a blown Chrysler and Smith returned to his old ride. A close explosion and lack of funds left Smith without a ride and did early 1963 to work for Romeo. The team toured the country as one of the most popular exhibition attractions, match racing fuel dragsters and other jet cars. Smith even made a pass down 6th Street in Cleveland for appearance on the Mike Douglas television show. Palamides built a long series of jets for drag racing and Bonneville including: a twin jet powered Falcon station wagon, Dodge charger funny car, and even a rocket car. Between bookings in the jet, Smith remained a journeyman dragster driver, behind the wheel of as many as three cars at a single meet. Although he made hundreds of flawless passes, Smith suffered a series of spectacular accidents which left him battered and broken. When asked why he got back in the cars after an especially nasty crash, he replied, "To pay the hospital bills from the last one"! In the early 70s, Romeo moved to Chicago to continue to build jets as well as compressional chassis, including innovative "Stardust" and "Mr. Norm" funny cars.

2020 HOF

John Peters & Nye Frank (1939-2007)

Perhaps no car in the history of drag racing so completely dominated division as the "Freight Train" gas dragster of John peters and Nye Frank. Peters and Frank came out of the pool of the hot-rodding talent on the west side of Los Angeles which produce such stars as Jean Adams, Stu Hilborn, Jack Engle, and The Surfers. Their car began in 1960 as the Quincy Auto dragster utilizing a pair of unblown, bored out 283 Chevy's mounted nose to tail in a heavy home-built frame. The induction system evolved through several configurations until both engines featured top mounted blowers. It got its nickname in a Drag News story by Judy Thompson because it won a race by "a freight train length", weighed over 2100 pounds, and puffed black smoke on the starting line. The Freight Trains (there were three different chassis) raced for over a decade and made over 1700 runs in 24 different states at the hands of over a dozen different drivers including: Bob Brissette, Roy "Goober" Tuller, Walt Rhodes, and Bob Muravez (a.k.a. Floyd J Lippencott Jr). The first major win came at the 1962 March Meet, followed by the 1963 Winternationals, three more NHRA national events, two more March Meets, and countless independent races. In 1966, when a new lightweight frame was built, the Train almost immediately hit a 7.99 ET and the cries "ban the train" spread through the Top Gas pits. It was the first in the 7s, first in the 6s, and first over 180, 190, and 200 mph on gas. Muravez once won 28 straight rounds before losing to a red light. By the time Top Gas was discontinued after the 1971 season, the then twin Chrysler powered Freight Train often had as much as a half second advantage over the field. Frank, an outstanding fabricator and metal craftsman, left the crew to build his Pulsator twin engine, unblown top fuel streamliner and assist in several Land Speed Record attempts. Examples of his tremendous talent have appeared on everything from Land Speed Records and Indy cars to the latest state-of-the-art off-road racers. Peters retired after 25 years as a machinist at Engle Cams and would go on to operate Freight Train Racing Engines in Northern California.

Marvin Schwartz

Marvin Schwartz (1936-1980)

Marvin Schwartz was introduced to drag racing astride a 90 mph Triumph motorcycle as a teenager in Zephyrhills, Florida in 1954. A move to Denver saw him construct a C/Gasser powered by his beloved Ford, but his interest gradually faded away from drag racing. Once again bitten by the racing bug in the early 60s, the onetime luggage salesman built his own 508 ci. Ford powered AA/FD. The car had plenty of power but was ill handling. He called on his old Florida buddy, Don Garlits, to build a chassis and before long that new car became known as "The World's Fastest Ford", turning a 7.70 ET and running over 190 mph regularly. "Starving Marvin" soon joined Garlits to work in his chassis shop, which provided Schwartz with a near twin of Garlits' own car to drive and maintain. That car afforded Schwartz the proudest moment of his career at the Bakersfield Fuel and Gas Championships when he defeated a field of 32 of the country's best fuelers to win Top Fuel Eliminator, only to fall to his mentor,Garlits, for the Overall title. Marvin parlayed this success with a series of his own cars on the match race circuit, and went from "starving" to a rigorous schedule of traveling 80,000 miles a year and racing in average of three days a week. Schwartz died at the 1980 AHRA Winternationals during qualifying.

Gene Snow

Gene Snow

Gene Snow began his drag racing career with cars off his Fort Worth used car lot. In the 30 years that followed, he raced a long series of super stocks, match racers, and even a stable of both top fuel and funny cars. Snow always prided himself on innovation and race primarily for the pure enjoyment of it. He pioneered direct drive funny cars, rigid suspensions, and experimented with turbocharging and compressed air induction. In 1965, he built his first in a series of "Rambunctious" and "Snow Man" Dodges. Using an injected late model Hemi, his first Dart featured fiberglass doors and front end predating all plastic one-piece bodies.  The car (then classified by NHRA as a fuel dragster) was equally impressive on gas or fuel, winning, Comp and Super Eliminator titles at NHRA national events from 1966 through 1968. In 1969, became the first NHRA funny car driver reach 200 mph. In 1970, Snow won seven major events and became the first to win both NHRA and AHRA season championships. His $130,000 in prize money was a record amount for any professional drag racer. The next year he retained the AHRA title and was NHRA's runner-up. He pioneered the car team concept in 1972 with a top fuel dragster, three funny cars, and three hired drivers. In 1980, Snow switched driving roles from funny cars to top fuel. A true sportsman, Snow helped Eddie Hill the first driver in the fours. Six months later, he ran the second four second time and the first in NHRA. Snow won his eighth NHRA title at the Cajun Nationals in 1989 and retired from top fuel racing in 1993. Nearly four decades after starting his career, he still occasionally spends a weekend at the wheel of his A/Fuel dragster. He says, "It makes you feel good to know that people still remember you". If that's the case, Gene snow feel good for a long time to come.

Bob Spar
Don Spar

Bob and Don Spar

In the 1950s, the thought of an automatic transmission in a race car was ludicrous. That is until B&M Hydro Stick came along. Bob Spar formed B&M Automotive with Mort Shuman in 1955 with the goal of doing automatic transmission repair work and a little racing as a sideline. Bob developed an idea about modifying the Hydramatic for high performance applications and in 1958 was granted a patent on his hydraulic control system. At nearly the same time, Bob's brother, Don joined him at the small shop in Van Nuys and they bought out their former partner, making the company family-owned. Soon gasser and altered racers across the country were swapping their ancient LaSalle and Cadillac transmissions for the strength and durability of the manually shifted B&M Hydro. The success of their transmissions forced numerous expansions until, by the late 60s, the firm occupied facilities eight times the size of the original time shop. The line began to expand as the team design and manufacture adapters, shifters, and other driveline components. In the mid-60s, as traction improved in racing's faster categories, B&M developed the Tork-Master which could be used in any car capable of pulling high gear only. It quickly became a success in Don Prudhomme and Kenny Safford's top fuelers, as well as the burgeoning funny car field. Other products, such as the Clutch Flite, were perfected on the first known transmission dynamometer designed and built by B&M. B&M Racing and Performance Products manufactured complete transmissions, torque converters, and even a full line of superchargers. Thanks to the Spar brothers, "I'm running a B&M", truly became part of the language of drag racing.

Ricahrd Tharp

Richard Tharp

Colorful is the word used most often describing Richard Tharp's career, both on track and off. He was as comfortable behind the wheel of a top fueler or funny car as he was Dallas Cowboys locker room or backstage at a Willie Nelson concert. He once said, "Racin might not be much, but workin is nothin". Tharp's drag racing career began as a teenager in 1960, driving a gas dragster in his native New Mexico. When he relocated to Dallas in 1963, he drove top fuel cars for such Texas legends as the Carrol Brothers, winning the South-Central Division title prior to his army hitch. In early 1970, he began driving for fellow Hall of Fame member Bob Creitz and was racing Don Garlits in the AHRA Grand American final at Lions Drag Strip when Garlits' transmission exploded, a large piece of which barely missed Tharp's head. He spent five years in the 70s behind the wheel of funny cars, winning several major events in AHRA and IHRA competitions along the way. A two-and-a-half-year period with Harry Schmidt helped build the legend of the Blue Max, including the 1971 IHRA Championship. During those golden days of match racing, Tharp ran 106 dates in a six-month period. Other notable rides included Don Schumacher's Stardust and Mike Burkart's Satellite. Returning to top fuel, Richard teamed with Hall of Famers Candies & Hughes in 1976, winning NHRA top fuel titles at the Summernationals, the US Nationals, and ultimately the seasons Winston Championship. He nearly repeated in 1977 including a runner-up finish at Indy. Known as a superb pure driver, Tharp's lightning reflexes made him a natural and, more than once, prevented a major accident at well over 200 mph. Tharp retired, from the the wheel of the 250 mph Kilpatrick and Carnell dragster, in 1983 after winning the IHRA Top Fuel Championship.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 10th Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 16th in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel located in Gainesville Florida.

Gene Adams

Gene Adams

Gene Adams, one of the most innovative thinkers in the sport, was involved in drag racing nearly as long as the sport's existence. His dad took him to Saugus Drag Strip in 1952 to race the families 1950 Oldsmobile against a friends Hudson Hornet. Young Gene was hooked. The addition of a LaSalle floor shift, 4-71 blower, Hilborn injectors, and a manhole cover bolted in the trunk made the dark blue fastback prototype for the tough supercharged Southern California gassers. The same gassers setting records at every local strip, as well as the NHRA national mark. After spending 1958-1959 in the Army, it was dragsters only for Adams from then on. Gene's engine went in Ronnie Scrima's modified Chassis Research frame, and with athletic Leonard Harris driving, the legendary Albertson Olds dragster was born. In barely six months they won 17 Top Eliminators. After Harris was tragically killed in another car, Adams joined Tom McEwen for two years, finishing runner-up at the 1961 Nationals and the 1962 Winternationals on gas and making the Bakersfield semis on fuel. A new Woody car in 1963 teamed Gene, his brother Gary, and John Rasmussen. Running both gas and fuel, the car literally paid for itself, winning numerous local Top Eliminator as well as back to back Top Gas wins at the 1965-66 Hot Rod Magazine meets with Rick Stewart and Billy Scott at the wheel. Late in 1966, Adams teamed with car dealer Jack Warye and driver John Mulligan on the first dragster in the 6's at more than 200 mph. After more than two decades at Hilborn's, Gene opened his own business in 1983, continuing to provide innovative engine building and fuel systems for customers with nearly any engine combination. In 1992 Adams tuned Roger Odell's unblown fueler to an unheard of 5.77 ET at 253 mph. In 1996 Keith Stark used an Adams designed fuel system to up the ante with an incredible 5.38 ET 270.51 mph blast.

AL Eckstrand

Al Eckstrand (1928-2008)

Hired by Chrysler Corporation soon after his graduation from law school in 1955, Al Eckstrand quickly gravitated to a young group of performance-oriented engineers who drag raced every weekend. The group later became known as the RamChargers. His interest in promoting Chrysler products led to the personal endorsement of BJ Nichols, Chrysler VP of Corporate Sales,who sponsored Al's racing efforts from 1960 to 1962. After several class wins at the NHRA Nationals, Eckstrand drove the RamChargers' Dodge to a Top Stock win at the 1963 Winternationals, the first major eliminator victory by a Chrysler doorslamer in NHRA competition and the first one for Chrysler's MaxWedge and Torqueflite package. After finishing runner-up with his own "Loman", '63 Dodge at the 1963 Nationalsto the car he drove at Pomona, Eckstrand raced Plymouths in Super Stock and A/FX in 1964. The following year he joined forces with Plymouth's Golden Commandos team as co-driver of its injected altered wheelbase A/FX machine. After becoming aware that American servicemen returning home had little comprehension of the latest developments in high performance, he lobbied to perform exhibition runs for military personnel overseas. He took street Hemis to Europe and performed exhibitions, which the military billed as save driving promotions. Enlisting the assistance of Ford Motor Company in 1969, Al toured US Armed Forces basis around the world with a pair of supercharged Mustangs. Following his final tour in 1972, Eckstrand received numerous meritorious awards from the US Marines, Department of Defense, and US Department of Transportation for the promotion of safe driving to more than 250,000 US military personnel overseas.

Eddie Hill

Eddie Hill

It could be said that Eddie Hill has had drag three racing careers. The first began in 1956 when he mounted a stock Oldsmobile engine on a Model T frame to compete in the Open Gas class at a little drag strip, in East Texas, reaching 106 mph. In 1957, he built his innovative Pontiac gas dragster, which he modestly called "the hottest unblown gasser on earth"! With a blower, the car ran a best of 8.84 ET and won Top Gas honors at the 1959 AHRA Nationals. Eddie then built an awesome twin Pontiac for slick dragster that literally melted holes in the starting line at the 1961 Indy Nationals. A series of fuel dragsters followed and a severe engine fire in 1966 ended career number one. Hill would race motorcycles through 1974, when he attended his first drag boat race; 30 days later he owned a race boat. He became the most famous drag boat racer in the country, winning several season championships. On September 5, 1982, Hill turned 229 mph, placing him in the Guinness Book of World Records as the driver of the fastest propeller driven boat. In October 1984, a 217 mph crash seriously injured Hill and brought career number two to a close. The next spring, Eddie and his wife Ercie, bought a used dragster and installed their salvaged boat engine and went back to pavement. By the 1986 Gatornationals, the last boat motor was used up, and Hill was ready to quit. Ercie took a burned piston to Gene Snow and explain their plight. Snow sold them and engine and offered a baseline tune-up. At the next race, they beat Snow with his own used engine and were on their way. Eddie and Ercie struggled as privateers slowly working their way toward the front of the pack. On April 9, 1988, with a Super Shops sponsorship, they made their mark in drag racing history at the IHRA Texas Nationals when Eddie clocked a sizzling 4.990 ET. Proving the first under five second run was no fluke, Hill made more four second runs, than any other driver, that year with a best of 4.93 ET and a win at the NHRA Supernationals. It all came together in 1993 when the Pennzoil backed "Nuclear Banana" one a record-tying six national events.  In 1993 at the age of 57 Eddie Hill became the oldest NHRA Top Fuel Champion history.

Frank Huszar

Frank Huszar (1908-1987)

A veteran of the motion picture industry where he worked in every capacity from grip stuntman, Frank Huszar was always interested in fast cars and even hopped up a few for movie stars. At his five-acre ranch in LA's San Fernando Valley, he constantly tinkered with cars and word quickly spread among the youthful hot rodders of the area that the "Old Man" was building race cars. The group that hung around Frank's place evolved into the "Throttle Merchants" car club the early 50s. A place to legally race their creations was needed and Frank was instrumental in the founding of San Fernando Drag Strip, one of the first purpose-built facilities in the country. Opening day was August 14, 1955 with Huszar serving as strip manager by unanimous decision of the Valley Timing Association. In 1959, Frank retired from MGM Studios and spent hours building race cars in his garage. Demand for his products led to the formation of Race Car Specialties in 1962 in partnership with Roy Steen. From the beginning through his retirement in 1980, RCS built well over 100 dragsters, funny cars, exhibition cars, and jet/rocket cars. Frank insisted the company initial stood for Reliability, Confidence, and Safety. Among Frank's products were the legendary cars of: Tommy Ivo, The Surfers, The Freight Train, George Bolthoff, the Dead-End Kids, and Waterman & Hampshire. In 1977 at the age of 69, Frank made a pass at over 250 mph in a rocket powered funny car he built for Fred Goeske. Frank passed away in 1987.

Dick Maxwell

Dick Maxwell (1935-2002)

A veteran of the motion picture industry where he worked in every capacity from grip stuntman, Frank Huszar was always interested in fast cars and even hopped up a few for movie stars. At his five-acre ranch in LA's San Fernando Valley, he constantly tinkered with cars and word quickly spread among the youthful hot rodders of the area that the "Old Man" was building race cars. The group that hung around Frank's place evolved into the "Throttle Merchants" car club the early 50s. A place to legally race their creations was needed and Frank was instrumental in the founding of San Fernando Drag Strip, one of the first purpose-built facilities in the country. Opening day was August 14, 1955 with Huszar serving as strip manager by unanimous decision of the Valley Timing Association. In 1959, Frank retired from MGM Studios and spent hours building race cars in his garage. Demand for his products led to the formation of Race Car Specialties in 1962 in partnership with Roy Steen. From the beginning through his retirement in 1980, RCS built well over 100 dragsters, funny cars, exhibition cars, and jet/rocket cars. Frank insisted the company initial stood for Reliability, Confidence, and Safety. Among Frank's products were the legendary cars of: Tommy Ivo, The Surfers, The Freight Train, George Bolthoff, the Dead-End Kids, and Waterman & Hampshire. In 1977 at the age of 69, Frank made a pass at over 250 mph in a rocket powered funny car he built for Fred Goeske. Frank passed away in 1987.

Ed Mcculloch

Ed McCulloch

Ed McCulloch is a survivor. He's endured four decades of a drag racing career with more ups and downs than a roller coaster. Growing up Central California, he watched midget races with his dad. Perhaps he could have grown up to be an Indy driver, but fate took a different turn. In 1957, he dropped his dads boat engine in a dragster chassis borrowed from his neighbors HL and Shirley Shahan. Since that fateful day, he won 22 NHRA national events, including six US Nationals. After moving to Oregon, he teamed with Jim Albrich on the "Northwind" fuel dragster in the early 60s. Only an ace beats a king, and a win over Jerry "The King" Ruth earned McCulloch his "Ace" nickname. He reluctantly switched to funny cars in 1969, with partner Art Whipple. In May 1970, the little-known team set both ends of the national record at 7.19 ET and 211.76 mph. Ed won his first national event at the US Nationals in 1971. The following year Ace drove his Revolution Duster to three national event wins, including a second US Nationals and Car Craft All-Star honors. In 1980, he raced the Super Shops funny car and won his third US Nationals. He joined Larry Minor's team in 1983 and a year later Ed would run a 5.13 ET, in the Miller Oldsmobile, becoming the funny car benchmark. In 1988 Ace won a huge purse of more than $100,000 to cap his IHRA Championship. His last win as a driver came in a dragster at the 1992 US Nationals, making McCulloch one of the very elite group to win Indy in both Top Fuel and Funny Car categories.

Dick Moroso

Dick Moroso (1939-1998)

One of the most innovative figures in motorsports, Dick Moroso used foresite and imagination to become one of the most successful speed equipment manufacturers in the modern era. He began his career in the mid-1960s racing is '61 Corvette in the Modified Sports and Modify Production categories. Much of his performance advantage came from hand-built pieces Dick design for his car. When other racers requested duplicates of his parts, he soon found that filling these requests took all the spare time he had from his Performance Automotive speed shop in Stanford Connecticut. He established Moroso Performance Products in 1968 where he developed and manufactured such innovative products as aluminum and steel valve covers, Blue Max spark plug wires, and extra capacity oil pans. After 10 years in his first 40,000 square-foot plant in Stanford, he moved to a larger facility in Guilford Connecticut, which needed even further expansion in the mid-80s. Dick bought a dragstrip in West Palm Beach Florida, developing it into Moroso Motorsports Park and annually held the sports highest paying bracket race. Dick passed on at the young age of 59 in November 1988, but the tradition of Moroso Performance Products lives on with his son Rick as company president and daughter Susan as president of Moroso Motorsports.

John Mulligan

John Mulligan (1942-1969)

In a career spanning less than a decade, John Mulligan left an indelible mark on drag racing history. In 1962 he began driving the Chevy powered Fiat will altered of the Beebe Brothers. In 1964 Garden Grove car dealer, Jack Warye built two stunning and nearly identical full-body dragsters. One ran a Chevy, the other a Chrysler and they were transported on a special tandem trailer for one of drag racing's first high profile efforts. Beginning his top fuel career, Mulligan drove both on occasion. In 1966 Warye formed a team with engine wizard Gene Adams and Mulligan driving. They broke the seven second barrier with a 6.95 ET blast at Carlsbad in October and consistently ran speeds around 220 mph. Meanwhile the Beebe Brothers had their own fuel dragster housed in a shop just yards from Waryes'. For months the mythical feud over the title "King of Garden Grove" filled the trade papers. In reality they were best of friends, and when Dave Beebe became too busy to drive, he suggested John take over. The "Fighting Irish" team of expert tuner Tim Beebe and ace driver John Mulligan was born. When drivers began using every animal nickname imaginable, John was simply "The Zookeeper". At the 1969 Winternationals he won his biggest Top Fuel title, claiming top speed honors at 225 mph and defeating Don Prudhomme to finally shed his bridesmaid image. At the US Nationals, Mulligan qualified at an outstanding 6.43 ET, the quickest in history. The first round of eliminations look like an identical pass until the clutch exploded at 1000 feet causing a horrific crash and fire. John Mulligan succumbed to his injuries two weeks later, at the very young age of 26.

Bernie Partridge

Bernie Partridge (1933-2012)

One of the original groups of NHRA Division Directors, who with NHRA Founder Wally Parks supervised regional operation of the fledgling sanctioning body in the early 60s. Bernie Partridge's multitalented skills were exceeded only by his passion for drag racing. As a member of the Dust Devils Car Club, he helped operate Inyokern Drag Strip from its opening in 1954. He often pulled double duty announcing a race, then competing in everything from stockers to his Desoto powered modified roadster. When Parks heard his voice, Bernie was invited to announce at the 1958 Nationals in Oklahoma City. Serving as NHRA's Chief Announcer for nearly 30 years, a milestone of Bernie's career came at the 1962 NHRA Nationals when he first used the nickname "Big Daddy", a title that has been part of the Garlits legend every sense. In late 1962, Partridge became the first Division Seven Director, a position he held for 17 years. Partridge was named Western Regional Director of NHRA, National Field Administrator in 1981, and finally Vice President of Field Operations in 1982. Retiring in 1989 Partridge was instrumental in the founding of NHRA's California Hot Rod Reunion and Street Legal programs. Partridge's dedication and willingness to accept and meet challenges have contributed greatly to the immense popularity enjoyed by drag racing today.

Don Prudhomme

Don Prudhomme

One of the most famous drag racers of all time, Don Prudhomme got his start as a member of the famed Burbank "Road Kings". While building a Buick powered street roadster, fellow member Tommy Ivo convinced him that he could have more fun racing. Ivo's old single engine chassis soon housed the Buick from the roadster and Prudhomme was hooked on drag racing for life. Teamed with Kent Fuller and Dave Zeuscel to win the 1962 US Fuel and Gas Championships, his first major victory, at 20 years old. In the early 1962, Tom Greer convinced engine builder Keith Black to join him in a dragster and Fuller recommended Prudhomme to drive. From mid-1962 to 1964, the Greer, Black and Prudhomme entry ruled the West Coast. Prudhomme's lightning quick reflexes and slender frame earned his "Snake" nickname from a GBP crew member. Both Black and Prudhomme were on the road to super stardom. In 1965 Snake teamed with a Keith Black engine and Roland Leong's "Hawaiian" to win both the NHRA Winternationals and US Nationals. In the late 60s Prudhomme was top fuel racing on his own, scoring two more US Nationals wins. In 1970 and Tom McEwen Wildlife Racing and with Mattel Toy Company enjoyed the biggest sponsorship deal in drag racing history. For three years they raced top fuel and funny cars. The Snakes intensity was a perfect contrast to the wit and showmanship of the Mongoose, with the rivalry driving millions of sales of Hot Wheels toys. In 1975 Prudhomme became the first funny car driver in the five second ETs, won six national events, and the first of four consecutive NHRA Funny Car Winston Championships. From 1980 to 1982 Prudhomme won three AHRA titles and in 1982 became the first NHRA driver to win 34 national events. He finished his funny car career in the late 80s with three top five championship finishes. Returning to top fuel in 1990. Snake closed out his career with the" Final Strike Tour" in 1994, winning four races and finishing a close second in the Winston Championship.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 10th Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 16th in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel located in Gainesville Florida.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 10th Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 16th in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel located in Gainesville Florida.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 13th Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 13th in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel, located in Gainesville Florida.

2020 HOF

Angelo Giampetroni
Founders Award

Angelo Giampetroni is best known as the guy at Ford SVO who helped FMO keep its high profile with the racers and hot riders, but his history in the sport is long and varied. Angela’s first job was with Gratiot Auto Supply at the age of 12. While his duties at first were restricted to sweeping up and putting things in place, it wasn’t long before he was becoming more and more involved with the business side of Gratiot. 

As soon as he could legally own a cart, Angelo purchased a 1932 Ford five window coupe with a 292 cubic inch flathead engine for power. This also became his first race car to complete with Grancor heads, Isky cam, and as many “goodies” as were available at the time. While the car was his daily transportation, it was also stout enough to clock over 120 mph at Motor City Dragway and Detroit Dragway. One of Angelo’s more famous race cars was a rear engine 1920 T Roadster powered by a 480 cubic inch Buick and affectionately known as “Li’l Billy”. Li’l Billy was one of the quickest and fastest cars at the time, turning 168+ MPH within an ET of 9.30 seconds.

Using the knowledge gained in his years at Gratiot Auto Supply, in 1969 Angelo founded Detroit Hi Performance and begin distributing performance parts on a nationwide basis. In 1970 the business became Gratiot Auto Mail Order and was soon shipping performance parts around the world. Gratiot Auto soon became one of the best known and recognized names in the hot rod world. Angela promoted the business through the weekly enthusiasts’ newspapers, in magazines such as Hot Rod Magazine, local newspapers, and was one of the first speed shops to incorporate the use of TV in its promotions. To add more zip to his TV promotions, Angelo brought Miss Hurst, Linda Vaughn, on board as one of Gratiot’s most visible spokesperson.

Tony Waters
Jim Sughrue

Tony Waters (1928-2013) & Jim Sughrue  (1926-2000)

In the early days of drag racing, the team of Tony Waters and Jim Sughrue was known and feared by all who had to compete against them. Both men were charter members of the legendary Bakersfield Smokers, and both were known for their fast and sanitary race cars. Tony got his start on the local street racing scene with a brand-new 1949 Chevy into which he quickly installed a 302 GMC engine. As soon as the strips at Saugus and Fresno opened in 1950, Tony was right there with the Chevy. Before long Tony equipped the GMC engine with a Howard log manifold and five Stromberg carbs converted to use alcohol. Although he was consistently breaking the 100 MPH barrier, it wasn’t long before the need to go faster took over, and he went to work on a new car. This new vehicle was a 1925 T Roadster known as “The Giant Killer” that used the same GMC engine that was so successful in the 1949 Chevy. The roadster immediately broke the 120 MPH mark, which made it among the fastest cars on the dragstrip at the time.

In 1955, Tony decided to introduce a totally new and novel combination, a fuel-burning 292 DeSoto engine with a front mounted 4-71 GMC supercharger. The combination was not new to Tony, as he already become one of the earliest members of the 200 MPH club driving a 1932 Ford Highboy roadster at Bonneville with the same powerplant. Not long after Tony fielded this new combination, he and his friend Jim Sughrue teamed up to form one of the strongest racing teams in the country. With the two people sharing the load, the team also turn the car into a real showpiece. At the inaugural US Fuel and Gas Championship meet, Waters lasted through two days of eliminations only to lose in the final round to Art Chrisman’s dragster when he lost traction in a patch of water.

In 1964 the team went on a very successful nationwide tour, but by the end of the tour it was obvious the pair would have to retire the roadster and switch to a dragster if they were to remain competitive. A couple of changes took place at this time. The team made the switch to a dragster and John Edmonds was installed as the driver. The new combination debuted at a 1964 car top fuel show at Lions Dragstrip and quickly proved it was the right move by taking home the top eliminator trophy and money. Not long after this they showed up at Carlsbad Raceway and set a new world record of 226.12 MPH. After the 1967 season, the partners retired from the racing for many years. But as they say once bitten you never forget, and Tony returned to the wars, this time with and involvement in the nostalgia fuel dragster class. Tony also built a new Highboy roadster with the hopes it would break the 300 mile-per-hour marked at Bonneville.

Jerry Ruth

Jerry Ruth

Self-proclaimed “King of the Northwest”, Jerry Ruth has done his very best to live up to his title. Jerry was exposed to drag racing at the age of 14 when he attended his first race at the only track in the Seattle, Washington area at the time Arlington Raceway. By the age of 16 he was the proud owner of a straight eight engine powered 1939 Chrysler New Yorker that’s all more street racing than it did race track use. After a tour of duty with the US Marine Corps, Jerry found himself hanging out in Southern California, where he found work at a couple of Chevrolet dealerships during the week and on the weekends hung out at the local dragstrips.

Jerry’s first race car was a small block powered 1955 Chevy that he competed in C/Gas class with. Not content with the speed the 1955 ran, he soon began racing a 1940 Studebaker sedan in C/Altered class, turning in speeds of over 121 MPH. Missing his hometown, Ruth moved back to Seattle and worked his way through a succession of full-bodied cars in the C/Gas then the C/Gas Supercharged, always striving to go quicker and faster. His first time behind the wheel of a dragster came after he did some swapping with Jim Green of Green Elephant Racing fame and wound up with greens old B/Gas dragster. The first time down the track in a dragster was enough to convince Ruth he would never be happy driving anything other than a dragster. While Jerry got the dragster itself in the swap deal, he didn’t get a trailer, so he had to borrow one from his friend Harold Gunderson. The only problem was, Harold was using the trailer for his own car at the time, so Jerry had to haul Harold’s car to the track, unload it and go home for his car. After the race he had to reverse the entire procedure, which made race day very long for Jerry. Jerry was finally able to buy trailer of his own, making his life less complicated and race day shorter. By 1962 Jerry had graduated to A/Gas dragster and was turning speeds 150 MPH, and life was great, but he wanted to go even quicker and faster.

By the end of 1962 Jerry decided to build and injected fuel-burning small block Chevy for the dragster, which he did and probably blew up. He then put together a blown small block Chevy on fuel and just as quickly destroyed it. According to Jerry that was when he decided it was time to make the move to AA/Fuel dragster with a blown 354 Chrysler hemi, on fuel, for power this proved to be the right combination for Jerry, who soon was turning speeds of over 200 MPH and mid seven second ET’s. In 1964 he set track records from Sheldon Washington to Half Moon Bay in California and most of the racetracks in between and earned the title of Washington State Champion.

After couple years with the 354 engine, Jerry switch to a 392 hemi, and from 1964 to 1969 he literally dominated AA/Fuel dragster class in NHRA’s Division Six, winning the division title five of six years and setting top speed records in 1966 and 1967. There was no doubt that during this period Jerry Ruth was the darling of the strip owners and operators in the Northwest territory. The more Jerry’s popularity grew and the more drag racing itself was promoted in the area, the more top fuel cars were built and raced in the area. Fortunately for him, Jerry’s winning streak was far from over, and in 1970. 1971, 1972, and 1973 he again won the divisional championships. By the early 70s Ruth had added a fuel funny car to his operation and soon had it in championship form. In 1971 Jerry became the first person to ever win a divisional championship in both top fuel and funny car classes. In 1973 he took home the Top Fuel World Championship trophy and joined the Crager Five Second Club with a 5.95 ET. Jerry’s list of victories and records continued to grow. In 1980 he won the AHRA World Finals. In 1981 he won the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, and in 1982 he won the IHRA Springnationals in Bristol.

Jerry is retired from drag racing but is still involved in cars. He built several street rods for his own use and continues to offer advice to anyone who is willing to listen. Jerry Ruth was truly king of the Northwest and still is today.

Bill Mavrick

Bill “Maverick” Golden (1933-2015)

One of the pioneer showmen of drag racing was Bill “Maverick” Golden and his Little Red Wagon wheel standing truck. However, before the “wagon”, Bill was one of the early pioneers in the super stock wars. Competing in a Chrysler sponsored S/S Dodge, Bill soon became a star in the 60s, racking up hundreds of wins and track records with an enviable 95% when record. It was also during the super stock years that Bill learned the value of showmanship as well as performance. Without showmanship especially in the stock classes, it was nearly impossible to get exposure in the print media.

Bill started life in the same way he has lived it; very uniquely. Born Billy Lawrence Golden to a fur trapper father and a Cherokee mother in the wilderness of the Wabash River bottoms of southern Illinois, he competed in and won his first race on his horse “Thunder” at the local county fair. Even with only one horsepower, Bill was hooked on the speed it provided. In 1953 Bill joined the US Marine Corps to see the world and do his duty for his country. While the Marine Corps exposed him to many foreign countries, it was during his tour in California that he decided this was the place to stay. The climate was great and the life was good, but above all there was an abundance of drag strips in the area.

After settling into the California lifestyle, Bill soon started showing up at the various strike strips within the local area. Before long he had earned the reputation of being a winner, and under the guidance of Gordon and Jerry Williams he soon became almost unbeatable. Up until sometime in 1968 he was simply known as Bill Golden, but one Sunday afternoon at Santa Ana dragstrip, CJ “Pappy” Hart called for Bill to “get that Maverick Dodge up here and let’s finish this race!” The name stuck, and from that time forward he was known to all as “the Maverick”.

Mavericks list of accomplishments during the 60s is still one of the most impressive ones in the history of the sport. In 1962 his super stock Dodge held both ends of the national records, and in 1964 his Dodge held both ends of the A-Modified production record and racked up a win record of 35 out of 36 races. In 1965, Car & Driver Magazine named him the “Golden Boy of Drag Racing” and placed the 1964 Dodge at number one. In 1969, Super Stock Magazine named Mavericks 1963 Dodge one of the top 10 stock cars of all time. With this record behind him, in 1995 Bill was in ducted into the Super Stock Magazine Hall of Fame. In 1964, Dodge Director of PR, Frank Wiley, came up with the idea of building a rear engine, hemi powered, A-Factory experimental wheel standing Dodge compact pickup for a Dodge truck commercial. Maverick was tapped to drive it, and shortly thereafter the Little Red Wagon began appearing at the local drag strips. While there has been a lot of publicity and notoriety for the “wagon”, it hasn’t come without its problems. The initial truck put Maverick in the hospital for a week from too many high wheelstands and coming down too hard. From 1964 through 1975, Maverick crashed seven times, destroying three trucks. The 1975 crash in Québec City, Canada almost cost him his life after he flipped nine times end over end and rolled another five times before coming to a stop. When wagon number four was built, Maverick asked his good friend Eddie Campbell who was also a priest to bless it and asked God to watch over him and his wheelie truck. Bill has been responsible for many of the safety measures incorporated into the wheel standing vehicles of today including the guidance system that allows the drivers to steer the vehicle with the front wheels in the air. Bill is also credited with coining the term “wheelie”. Bill was also one of the first wheelie drivers to start “racing” side-by-side with another wheel stander.

In January 1975 the man who gave Bill his Maverick nickname, Pappy Hart, was able to give him another giant boost by booking the Little Red Wagon at his season opening feature attraction. In 1977 Bill set a wheelie length record of 4230 feet which still stands today. Over the years the man known as Maverick has received countless awards such as the Car Craft Magazine All-Star Racing Team, Car of the Year award from HRA, King of the Wheel Stands, to name only a few. But the thing that stands out above all the others is that when anyone thinks or talks of wheel standing vehicles, the first name that comes to mind is Bill “Maverick” Golden and his Little Red Wagons.

2020 HOF

Dick LaHaie (1942-2018)

Dick LaHaie was another drag racer who got an early start in the sport. In 1955 at the age of 13, Dick landed a job that allowed him to start saving for his dream. Just three years later Dick’s dream came true when he became the proud owner of his first car, a 1948 Mercury coupe. The car equipped with a standard flathead engine, but within three months it was replaced with an Old’s V8.

Dick wasn’t a person who had someone else doing his work for him, either. He built his own A-frames and did his own wiring and other modifications to make the car quicker and faster. At age 16, Dick was well on his way to learning how to make his cars more competitive and by doing his own work at a more affordable cost. After about a year, the Mercury was replaced with a 1950 Ford coupe that he was soon racing on the street. Wanting to go quicker and faster, he replaced the engine in the 1950 with a GrandCor 296 cubic inch flathead. Next came a 1953 Ford coupe into which he dropped a 270 HP Corvette engine and a four-speed gearbox. The car was very quick and fast and is the vehicle that took him from street racing to organize drag racing. In 1959, Central Michigan Dragway opened its doors, and in his first effort, the 17-year-old notched his first win in E/Gas class at a speed of 110 MPH and an ET of 14.35 seconds.

In 1960 Dick bought a 1955 Olds and promptly set a new national record in I/SA. Dick was what is considered by anyone’s standards a very active racer. He raced the Olds at Detroit Dragway on Tuesday, and Friday nights, US 131 on Saturdays, and on Sundays at Anondaga Dragway. During one stretch, Dick one at those tracks 14 weeks straight. His next ride was an Olds-powered 1951 Henry J that he competed with in 1961 in 1962. At about this time, LaHaie hooked up with two racers who would significantly change his life, Noah Canfield and Charlie Johnson. Canfield and Johnson campaigned the Glass Chariot AA/Modified fuel roadster throughout the Midwest, and when Johnson couldn’t be at the races, LaHaie filled in as the driver. When the Canfield and Johnson team moved up to top fuel in 1964, Dick was well aware of the car’s popularity, so he took over the operation on his own and had his first full time blown and injected nitro powered ride. It was with this car that LaHaie made his first bid for national recognition when he challenged Gabby Bleeker and his roadster for a spot on the Drag News Junior Eliminator list. Bleeker failed show for the race, so Dick owned the spot. Next, he challenged the holder of the number one spot, the Heidelberg team. This ended with mixed emotions for Dick; he easily beat them on the first round but broke the engine and was unable to make the other two required rounds. However later that same year Dick took the number one spot away from them and retain the title until the class was discontinued a year later.

In 1966 Dick again join forces with Canfield and Johnson, this time with a newly built top fuel dragster. The group had an outstanding season, winning 11 weeks in a row at different tracks, but at the end of the season Johnson elected to retire, leaving LaHaie on his own again. One of Dick’s first moves was to join the UDRA so he would be able to compete on the Midwest circuit against the best names in the sport. The move was a good one for Dick as he won circuit titles in 1970, 1973, in 1976. During this period Dick himself built all of the cars he raceed, starting with front motor dragsters, and in 1971 building his first rear engine car. In fact, Dick built all of his own cars up to and including his 1984 car. One of the reasons Dick built his own cars was simple matter of economics; he was a racer with a very small budget, and this was another way to make it go farther, plus his designs were very competitive.

Drag racing has not always been kind to Dick. In 1975 while debuting a new car at the Gatornationals in Gainesville Florida the throttle stuck open, and despite all his efforts to stop the car safely, he wound up crashing into some trees. Dick’s left hand torn off his right arm broken in two places but fortune did smile on him in the form of a group of medically trained Vietnam veterans who were in Gainesville teaching limb replacement, and they were able to surgically reattach his hand. Dick hired John Thomas to drive for him while he recovered, but he was back in the car at US 13 Dragstrip just a week before the US Nationals in Indy. On his third qualifying run at Indy, a combination of a front wing that was built wrong and the front wheels hitting the wheel bearings caused the car to crash just past finish line. This time Dick lost a toe and broke his right arm again. Just a month later, Dick decided he wanted to continue racing, and Marv Rifchin of M&H Tires cut him a check for the new car. By April 1976, the new car was completed, and Dick was again competing.

In 1980 at the Summernationals, Dick won his first national event by beating Jeb Allen in the final round, and the following year he was the NHRA Eastern Region Top Fuel Champion. In 1982 three significant things happened: he debuted a new car at the Winternationals and won, daughter Kim debuted as his crew chief at the US Nationals, and he sold his business to become a full-time professional racer.

Dick’s performance never let up. In 1985 he won the Gatornationals, and in 1986 he reached six finals, winning two of them. In 1987 Dick landed a sponsorship with Miller Brewing Company and teamed up with Larry Minor to win his first Winston top fuel crown, winning a total five national events along the way. In 1991 Dick retired from driving, and while he never believed he could become a crew chief, in 1993 Connie Kalitta changed that thought when he hired Dick to wrench son Scott’s car. The team became nearly unstoppable, finishing second to Eddie Hill for the Winston crown in 1993 and winning it in 1994 in 1995. Since then Dick has been instrumental in furthering the careers of Doug Kalitta, and Larry Dixon. 2002 Dick LaHaye won the Winston top fuel crown for the fourth time as either a driver-crew chief.

2020 HOF
2020 HOF

Jimmy King (1937-2018) & Don Marshall (1937-2010)

Back when they were a bit lighter and younger, Jimmy King and Don Marshall were friends, even fellow car club members with five other guys (kids) in the King Pins and the Southern New England Timing Association during the mid-50s. Jimmy remembers having a cool 1941 Ford and being too young to drive it, so older buddy Don offered to handle the chore. Wanting a gearhead playground, they were instrumental in opening the Navy base in Charleston, Rhode Island to monthly drag racing, through SNETA. Other groups at Sanford, Maine and at Orange, Massachusetts meant that Jimmy and Don could drag race every Sunday somewhere in New England by 1957.

Jimmy landed a job at a Ford dealership name Tasca, working near Bill Lawton and John Healy. He was hitting the strips with his nailhead Buick powered 1946 Chevy. The car wasn’t fast enough so Jimmy found a Scotty Finn K88 chassis and stuck a gas burning small block Chevy in it, while Don decided to try again with two less wheels and six fewer cylinders. He went motorcycle racing with the gas burning Harley Davidson, then stepped up to a unique blown, reverse rotation Triumph. A local Harley Davidson dealer notice Don success and set him up with a deal on a new 1963 Harley. Don went on to set land speed records at Bonneville in the gas classes, hitting 136 and 142 MPH with no fairings. Then went to the quarter-mile with a load of nitro and clicked 150 MPH. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s desire to go faster got him into a Haulin chassis with a 392. Don, and other local friends, were usually around pitching in with parts and assistance. However even in the mid-60s, it was tough to field a competitive top fuel car by yourself, let alone find enough events for a nitro bike. That’s when the two longtime friends got together, and the King and Marshall team became official. It wasn’t long until they decided to make a leap. They sold most of their “toys”, purchased a new Don Long/Tom Hanna car in late 1967, and planned on some traveling.

The team fielded competitive top fuelers and funny cars until the mid-70s, followed by a few special appearances until 1980. Jimmy return to his garage in Rhode Island, while Don spent the winters in Florida and summers in Rhode Island. Jimmy and Don remained good friends and they often got together usually at major racing events and other drag race related occasions. King and Marshall was perhaps the most prolific and successful drag racing team ever from the New England area; like most fuel teams in their era, they campaigned mostly out of their own pockets because they were doing it for the fun and the challenge. Yet they were quick to acknowledge the assistance from New England Speed Equipment, the New England Plymouth Dealers Association, and Marvin Rifchin of M&H Tire. Like most easterners, they didn’t receive a lot of national publicity for the success but they generated huge fan appeal wherever they raced, and a good deal of local and regional media attention. Jimmy King was voted Most Popular Driver by the fans at the three New England tracks for four consecutive years.

Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly (1938-2015)

“Diamond” Jim Kelly was one of the sport’s first full-time photographers. Jim got his first taste of drag racing in 1958 as a spectator at Lions Dragstrip after his good friend Don Gregory talked Jim into going with him to see what it was all about. Shortly after that, Don convinced Jim to become a competitor with his Austin Healey at Lions, where he promptly won his class the first time out. After that, he was hooked on drag racing forever, but a couple years after his first when, his car was destroyed by a drunk driver. Still wanting to be involved in the sport, Kelly started taking photos at the race tracks. Early in his career as a photographer, Jim had the good fortune to become friends with Al Johns, the track photographer for Lions. AI passed along some tips on what to do, and Kelly was soon excelling in his new hobby.

About this time, Al introduce Kelly to Doris Herbert, who owned Drag News, and shortly thereafter he was selling his photos to Doris for the paper. With the number of racetracks running every week in Southern California, it wasn’t unusual for Jim to cover over 100 races a year. Why Kelly was selling a lot of photos to Drag News, he had dozens more that were just piling up in his office, so he soon teamed up with Phil Bellamy and founded Drag Sport Illustrated. From this point on, his career as a professional race photographer skyrocketed. His photos started appearing in all the national magazines covering the sport in addition to the weekly papers.

In 1964 at the NHRA US Nationals, the publisher of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated approached Jim with the idea of accompanying the newly formed United States Drag Racing Team on its upcoming tour of England, and a few days later he was on his way across the pond. Later that year Jim moved from California to Virginia and took on the job as full-time photo editor of SS&DI. Not long after this move, the publishers of SS&DI started a new magazine, Stock-Car Racing, and Kelly was off to the stock car races. SS&DI was the magazine that gave the East Coast racers the best shot of national exposure during the beginning of their careers, and it was Jim’s coverage of such regular features as “Match Race Madness” and other such promotions that put them into the spotlight. It was Jim’s coverage of this type a special promotion that help popularize this form of showmanship, bringing the likes of “Grumpy” Jenkins, “Dyno” Don Nicholson, Sox and Martin, and Gapp & Rausch into thousands of homes each month.

Jim was one of the truly professional photographer was willing to attend the smaller backwater facilities that didn’t get a lot of publicity but were the early match races spent most of their early careers.  This was one of Jim specialties, covering the racetracks that most people didn’t even know existed. Using gems photos of side-by-side funny car racing at the AHRA and outlaw tracks to demonstrate to NHRA the popularity of these cars, the funny car racers were able to convince NHRA of the value of a separate class just for them.

In 1969 Kelly was offered the chance to work for Peterson Publishing on Hot Rod Magazine. This is a dream come true, and soon Kelly was off to California again, where he went to work at PPC in their photo lab providing photos for all of its magazines. While it appeared to be a dream come true, it wasn’t long before Jim Tice, president of AHRA, made Kelly another offer that was too good to pass up. Shortly after Jim joined up with AHRA, the association launched its own weekly paper, Drag World, with Kelly as its editor.

As Kelly’s talents became even more renown, the job offers can you come in, and in 1976 the new publisher of Super Stock Magazine enticed Jim back to Virginia again, where he became the publisher of the magazine. 1979 brought another call from Jim Tice at AHRA, but this time it wasn’t just to edit the paper. Tice wanted Jim to learn the business of managing the association. Kelly stayed there until the early 1980s when Jim Tice passed away in the Association was sold. After 25 years on the circuit, Jim decided to retire from the sport. Not willing to watch the world from a rocking chair, Jim was involved with cars as the owner of a business that supplied new cars to electronic and print media automotive journalist for road test evaluation.

Steve Collison

Steve Collision (1946-2000)

Steve Collision was a diehard drag racer who became the most respected magazine editor of his time. Though “Stevie” new most of the pro-racers and covered them knowledgeably for three decades, his true love was the “little guy”.

Prior to boldly answering a LA Times classified ad placed by Peterson Publishing in 1970, Steve’s life had paralleled that of other young gearheads growing up in Southern California. A series of street racing scares unfortunately redirected his energies towards Lions Dragstrip, where Collision set an AHRA National Record with his 1969 SS396 Chevelle and enjoyed his finest racing moment; a runner-up finish in one of the earliest $1000 to win bracket races at the wheel of his adoptive parent’s bone stocks Buick Riviera.

Steve was only 23 and without a single byline to his credit when his employment interview somehow persuaded Car Craft editor Terry Cook and publisher John raffia to appoint him the staff of the eras largest, most intellectual drag racing magazine. His clever, controversial writing style didn’t always win him fans with Car Craft’s advertising staff between 1970 and 1974, but it did earn him a strong following of loyal readers and racers (pros and sportsman alike). That outspoken style clearly didn’t translate well to National Dragster, where Steve briefly toiled as Associate Editor (for about 15 minutes, he’d like to say) before finding a new home, 3000 miles away from Los Angeles. In 1975, Collision became the editor of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated a position he would occupy three different times: 1975 to 1976, 1980 to 1988, and 1993 to 1998. Each time, Steve he was hired in response to popular demand from loyal readers, influential racers, and advertisers who respected his ability and incorruptibility.

Between hitches with SS&DI, this uniquely versatile editor produced some of the most memorable issues of cars magazine: Muscle Cars, High-Performance Mopar, Bracket Racing USA, and Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords. He also took a shot at doing public relations for Hurst, but never felt comfortable in the role. It was during his historic stint at the helm of Muscle Mustangs that Collision turned the new car purchased from Ford (for one dollar) into the legendary “Mean Mr. Mustang” issue by issue.

It was the combination of the fledgling publication in this particular vehicle that single-handedly launched the late-model Mustang movement. Moreover, it was with this mustang that Stevie set one final national record, in IHRA’s Pure Stock category, in 1987. Later, he would earn NHRA competition Super Gas and Super Comp licenses, and seriously compete in both categories.

His friends remarked that no matter where in the world a new driving school open, it was only a matter of time before Steve would enroll and graduate with honors. Collisions final editorial challenge was rebuilding Racing USA into a wider ranging package entitled Drag Racing USA. It was during a working telephone conversation with one of his favorite contributors and best friends, Bill Wilson, that Stevie scum to a massive heart attack in his home office near Atco Raceway. He was 54. Like some of his fellow photojournalists, Steve he was known for living his life “wide-open”. Unlike most of his peers, Collision remain true to his first loves class and bracket racing; with particular affection for cars with carburetors, doors, and manual transmissions. He worked on them, he drove them, and he wrote about them. He defended their rightful place in drag racing right up to the day he died, on December 14, 2000.

Don Cook

Don “Mad Dog” Cook 1937-2013

The best way to sum up who Don Cook was is to say that of all the characters who have been associated with drag racing, Don stood out from them all. One example of what made Don different was that once while walking across the street, a driver failed to stop and hit him, breaking his leg. Typical of Cook, neither he nor the driver had any insurance so Cook silver taped his leg up and went back on the road with the funny car.

Don drove a variety of top fuel dragsters and funny cars over the years, compiling an impressive win record at race tracks all across the country. Don was also one of the most consistent match racers of his time. At one-point time, Cook had teamed up with Jim Nicoll on the “Top Dog I” fuel dragster in which he became the first person to break the 223 MPH barrier. Shortly after Cook made his 223 MPH run, Drag Magazine gave him the title “Mr. 223”. Like all racers, Don was happy with the 223 speed for the day, then he promptly set about breaking it. Before too long, Cook was able to stretch the record to 236 MPH.

With all the exposure Don received driving fuel dragsters, his antics in the funny car wars are what most fans and other races remember him four. Don’s “Southwind Too” funny car was the most memorable of the group. The fact that it had a 230-inch wheelbase made “Southwind Too” longer than any other funny cars of the day, and his choice of a 392 Hemi with a big stroker kit and a “trick” cam gave the car a unique sound, Don Cook was also the man to beat on the funny car match race circuit.

Another unique feature of Cook’s racing program was that he and his wife, Sharon, where the team, and their daughter Shelley was there private cheerleader. Don said ET and MPH strip records at half Moon Bay, Fremont, Wichita, and Kansas and many other tracks from coast to coast. He won Top Eliminator at the World Finals in New York in 1968 and one the Grand American at Marion, Ohio in 1971 in addition to his match race win record.

2020 HOF

Gary Cagle (1933-1994)

Another one of the early pioneers in the sport of drag racing, Gary Cagle was a man of many moods. Must of the time he was a happy go lucky individual, but if he was pushed hard he could be about as tough as anyone around. He had a true love affair with racing and didn’t limit this love to just working on a car driving it. Gary started racing almost as soon as the old Santa Ana Dragstrip opened and in a variety of cars. One of his early rides was a four-banger powered rail job that he campaigned with partner Don Hampton.

While he was known as the driver of many early drag cars, Gary’s first real notoriety came while he was driving Chet Herbert’s slingshot dragster. This car was one of the very first to be fitted with a 392 Chrysler Hemi engine and a tip mounted blower. It was also one of the first cars to top the 180 MPH mark, which it did in 1959.

Driving for Herbert also gave Gary a tie-in with Chet sister, Doris Herbert, who owned and published Drag News. Gary was one of the first drag racers who decided he could make a living as a touring professional drag racer, and through Doris, Gary was able to arrange for a tour of midwestern and eastern drag strips in the summer of 1959. California hot shoe started the tour out on a high note, but a crash at great Bend after a 160 MPH run cut short the entire tour. Gary suffered a lot of physical damage, and it was a long time before he recovered enough to begin racing again. When Gary was able to reenter the drag racing wars, he did so in style. For his return entry, Gary built one of the most memorable machines ever, a canary yellow 1927 T-Roadster with a Chrysler Windsor engine driving through a torque converter. The Newhouse Auto sponsored roadster really shook up the competitors at Lions dragstrip in 1964 and 1965.

It was during the same period that Gary became one of the most outspoken leaders of the United Drag Racing Association and organization of immense political significance in the history of drag racing. Gary helped the you UDRA organization go to battle with many of the strip managers and operators over such things as safety, purses, and other issues he believed were not in the best interest of the racers. No one ever knew Gary to back away from fighting for his beliefs when it came to racing.

After Gary decided to retire the Newhouse Auto roadster, he continued to campaign a variety of other machines including the gorgeous Briggs-Cagle-Steen car that was best known for its unique trapdoor parachute arrangement. Even as he continued to be one of the toughest competitors on the race track, Gary was gradually shifting his interest in other directions. While at the UDRA, he had gained experience in producing successful events, and he also gained a lot of knowledge while working in the hot car staging at some of AHRA’s major meets. With this experience behind them, in the 1970s Gary decided to take a more active leadership role in the Southern California timing Association, where he served in many positions. Gary took the lead SCTA’s fight to retain access to its racing at El Mirage, and he was a leader in upgrading the timing equipment and eventually took charge of timing and internal communication at every Lakes and Bonneville event staged. This love affair with the SCTA was Gary’s passion until the end of his life in 1996. Drag racing never made Gary Cagle he super celebrity, and it certainly never made him monetarily rich, but it did give Gary something money couldn’t buy, the enjoyment of participating in a sport he loved and a man who was rich and friends.

Don Alderson

Don Alderson (1932-2001)

Don Alderson, more commonly known as “Muldoon” or “Dooner”, was born in Hawaii, where he lived until shortly after Pearl Harbor, at which time his family moved to Southern California. As a teenager, Don, like a lot of other young men around the country, earned his spending money working in a gas station. While waiting to reach the age in which he could get his learner’s permit, Don purchased a rebuild Model A roadster. After school, Don enrolled in college and shortly thereafter he and a friend competed a T-bucket roaster, which they competed with at the old Santa Anna Dragstrip. The top speed of 109 miles per hour they squeezed out of the car at Santa Anna isn’t very impressive by today’s standards, but it was great for that time.

After a tour in Korea, Don return to Los Angeles and went to work at an engineering company and was able to complete an apprenticeship in the design and manufacturing of aircraft components and assemblies, where he learned the fine art of producing precision parts and pieces. In 1957 Don and Milo Franklin formed Milodon Engineering Inc., which is primarily engaged in producing parts for aircraft and missiles. However, Don was still involved in racing and soon began to produce a lot of the parts that went into his own cars and engines.

By this time Dooner was fully involved with Bonneville racing, drag racing, and the dry lakes; plus, he was a member of the Gear Grinders Car Club, which was associated with the Southern California Timing Association. In 1946, Don drove his street roadster to a record speed of 131 MPH. Don was like several of his fellow racers in the early days of the sport who made parts for their own use that fit and/or performed better than what was available. As other competitors learn more about the level performance he was obtaining and the fact that his parts actually fit, more and more of them began to ask him to build the same parts for them.

In 1962, Don acquired sole ownership of the company which by this time had gone from producing a few special performance parts to producing hundreds of these parts. In fact, the demand was so great that Don had begun to steer the company from an aircraft component parts manufacturer to an automotive product development and manufacturing business. In addition to the increased number parts being produced, the variety of parts had also greatly increase, and soon Milodon engineering was a full-time race engine parts manufacturer. The product line grew from special main bearing supports, oil system, and oil pans to include complete 426 Chrysler and 350 Chevy style aluminum blocks and accessories. By 1985 the business listed over 900 parts in its catalog. The top names of the day, such as Don Garlits and Chris Karamasines, help make the Milodon engines a must-have item for the serious racer.

For Don, the 60s were the glory years of racing. In 1965, aerodynamics guru Bob Herda designed the body and Dooner built the engines for the Herda, Knapp and Milodon streamliner that Herda drove to a Bonneville record on its first outing. By building in running various size engines, the car was able to compete in both B and C classes. From 1965 through 1968, the car broke its own record 18 times, with eight of those times coming in one year. In 1967 the Autolight division of Ford contacted Don and asked him to build a special SOHC engine for the streamliner to go after the Daytona Beach record. In November of that year the car ran 357+ miles per hour to set a record that stood for incredible 28 years.

Like a lot of racers and enthusiasts, Don’s interests were not confined to just cars. His second love was the world of aviation. In 1953 Donner bought his first plane, a World War II era T-6 trainer. From there he moved up to a T-28 and ultimately wound up with a P-51 Mustang. Much like what resulted from his involvement in drag racing, Don was soon producing special performance parts for the major air races. Don owned several more normal planes during his life, but his ex-military ones were where his heart was.

Don gave the racing and enthusiast community a lot of leading-edge parts, but he also gave it a lot of advice and valuable information. He was a thinker, innovator, and a doer. With organizations such as NHRA and SEMA recognizing his contributions to the sport with special honors including induction into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2001.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 13th Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 13th in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel, located in Gainesville Florida.


Mopar Logo 1991

The 13th Annual International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony was held on Thursday, March 13th in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel, located in Gainesville Florida.