Gordon Browning, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer and an early member of the NHRA Board of Directors, died April 15.
Browning, an officer of the Los Angeles Police Traffic Education and Youth Safety Division, became a board member in 1952 not long after a chance meeting with NHRA founder Wally Parks, who was on his way to work one day in the early 1950s, cruising crosstown in a fenderless, low-riding '32 Ford coupe when he ran into a traffic snarl caused by construction.
"Before too long, there was a plume of steam coming from my radiator, and I was looking for any escape route," recalled Parks in 2001. "When I looked in my rear-view mirror, there was a black and white cruiser back there. Just about then, my radiator let go like Mount Vesuvius, so I pulled over onto the shoulder. The officer began walking up to my car, and I thought I was in a lot of trouble. Instead, he took me in his cruiser to the police station to get some water for my car. That started a long and wonderful friendship."
Browning, along with Otto Crocker, a prominent speed-timing authority, and Fred Davies, leader of the SDTA, joined Parks, Leo Ryan, Ak Miller, and Marvin Lee on the board in 1952. He was instrumental in working with Pomona [Calif.] police chief Ralph parker and Pomona officer Bud Coons to help establish racing at Pomona Raceway, and also did much of the legal legwork that resulted in the creation of Lions Drag Strip a few years later.
Browning’s contributions were long remembered by Parks, who invited him to two key NHRA celebrations during NHRA’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2001. The first, held Jan. 29 outside of Parker Center, the Los Angeles Police Department’s longtime home, was a symbolic site as the LAPD, along with other local law-enforcement agencies, were instrumental in NHRA's launch 50 years ago from the editorial offices of Hot Rod Magazine in Los Angeles. There, Mayor Richard Riordan proclaimed its National Hot Rod Association Day in the city of Los Angeles and proclaimed Parks as one of the great residents of the city. Parks had insisted that Browning be on the stage for the presentation, and introduced him.
A few weeks later, Browning joined Parks, Miller, and other special guests on March 13 at the Tam O'Shanter Inn in Glendale, Calif., to salute the 50th anniversary of the signing of the legal papers that incorporated the National Hot Rod Association March 13, 1951.
Browning was the recipient of the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion Golden Age award in 2010.
In an email sent to the NHRA, Randall Ness, Browning’s son in law, wrote, “Gordon spoke highly of his association with the NHRA and his family thanks you for recognizing him in Bakersfield as a living legend a few years back.”
A celebration of life will be held at Forest Lawn in West Covina, April 21followed by a church service at Christ Lutheran Church in West Covina noon April 22, after which Browning will be laid to rest at nearby Forest Lawn
NHRA fans can win prizes every race weekend this season through a special contest with GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton.
Named "Selfies with Richie," fans at NHRA national events are encouraged to take "selfie" pictures with the rookie driver and post them to Crampton's official Twitter page, @richiecrampton (https://twitter.com/richiecrampton), using the hashtag #selfieswithrichie.
The contest kicks off with this weekend's NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, and track general manager Christian Byrd has donated a special prize for the inaugural weekend of #selfieswithrichie -- a pair of tickets to Sunday's elimination rounds.
Crampton will pick this week's winner Saturday evening after the final round of qualifying for the Four-Wide Nationals. Fans also are encouraged to use the hashtag #4Wide for the Charlotte race to help raise exctement for the event and the contest.
"I can't wait to meet all of the fans in Charlotte and get some pictures with them," Crampton said. "Meeting with fans has been one of the best parts of my rookie year, and I hope this contest encourages more people to come by our pit area or the GEICO display and say hello.
"I'll be picking my favorite each weekend, so I hope fans come up with some creative ways to take 'selfies' with me. I'm fairly new to Twitter, but it's been fun to interact with followers there. This should be a fun deal all year."
Prizes for upcoming races will be announced via @richiecrampton and the official Twitter page for GEICO Powersports, @GEICOPowersprts (https://twitter.com/GEICOPowersprts).
For most other events, Crampton will pick his favorite #selfiewithrichie at the end of the weekend and award the prize to that person. A grand-prize winner for the year also will be selected to attend a special event during NHRA's Countdown to the Championship.
B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe), the non-profit teen-safe-driving foundation created by Doug Herbert, will be hosting two big events surrounding the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.
Many of the quickest and fastest NHRA drag racers in the sport will be swapping out their driving gloves for their driving glove and hitting the links when Doug Herbert’s “Take It To The Track” Charity Golf Tournament returns to the Rocky River Golf Course in Concord, N.C., Thursday, April 10. This annual event draws a stellar turnout of popular NHRA celebrity racers, some of whom are almost as proficient on the golf course as they are on the dragstrip. This year, drivers include former Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson, Top Fuel veteran Clay Millican, Funny Car standouts Ron Capps and Matt Hagan, Pro Stock Motorcycle favorites Matt Smith and Michael Ray along with Matt’s legendary drag racing father, Rickie Smith, and former NASCAR Nationwide champion Randy LaJoie will be competing in this fun-filled, upbeat tournament.
B.R.A.K.E.S. also will again present the “Hotcakes and Hot Rods Fundraiser” at Schumacher Racing’s hospitality area at the world-class racing facility on Saturday morning, April 12 from 8-10 a.m.
Along with a full pancake breakfast prepared on the spot, NHRA fans attending the event will also enjoy breakfast while seated next to many of their favorite professional racers who enthusiastically support the organization. Such stars as John Force, Antron Brown, “Fast” Jack Beckman, Hagan, and Capps are expected to make the 2014 edition of the “Hotcakes and Hot Rods Fundraiser” a truly memorable one.
“Every year “Hotcakes and Hot Rods” winds up being one of the real high points of the season for the racers and fans,” says Herbert, who created B.R.A.K.E.S. in 2008, leading to the Teen Pro-Active Driving Schools which have now seen over 10,000 teenagers learn greater levels of concentration and competency behind the wheel.
“For only a $10 donation, everyone can fill up on a stack of hotcakes, mingle with a bunch of NHRA drivers, take some pictures, get some autographs, and support what we’re doing at B.R.A.K.E.S. all at the same time.”
For more information on either of this year’s B.R.A.K.E.S. events, contact Jane Johns, B.R.A.K.E.S.’ Community Relations Coordinator at 704-720-3806 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SealMaster, a global leader in providing pavement maintenance products and equipment, has signed on to be a major associate sponsor on Kalitta Motorsports team’s two Top Fuel dragsters, driven by Doug Kalitta and David Grubnic.
The SealMaster logo will adorn the front sides of the Kalitta’s Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster and the front sides of the Optima Batteries Top Fueler driven by Grubnic, for the entire 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series consists of 24 national events all across the United States.
“This is an amazing opportunity to partner with a great team and two great drivers to represent the SealMaster brand,” says Rick Simon, SealMaster franchise director.
“We couldn't be more excited to welcome SealMaster into our family of partners,” Kalitta Motorsports Team Manager Rachel Brunner said. “Companies need to spend their marketing dollars wisely and we're glad they see the value in NHRA drag racing. We look forward to seeing their franchise owners and customers at each event this year while giving them a great experience with Kalitta Motorsports.”