‘The Snake’s’ Take

Legendary drag racer Don "the Snake" Prudhomme looks back on his career and shares his thoughts on topics ranging from his best cars, best seasons, and best pals like Tom McEwen and Roland Leong.
15 Sep 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Prudhomme
Last week’s wide-ranging remembrances from Ed McCulloch inspired some extremely positive responses from the Insider Nation, so, as promised, here’s a similar type of article that I wrote a few years ago (2010) for National Dragster…
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Ed McCulloch: Roaring down Memory Lane

Ed "the Ace" McCulloch has just about done it all. He's been a winner in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, and has become a legend and inspiration to fans and fellow drivers old and new. In this column, McCulloch reflects on some key periods of his hall of fame career.
08 Sep 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Ed McCulloch
As usually happens when I get all Fanboy talking to my heroes, my chat last week with Ed McCulloch about his Indy successes took some far-from-topic turns. I’d ask a question, he’d give me some backstory and before you knew it we're off on some…
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'Ace' still the king of Indy Funny Cars

As hard as it may be to believe – and the fact might change this weekend at Indy – but Ed “the Ace” McCulloch is still the king when it comes to Funny Car victories at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, even 27 years after his fifth and final win there.
29 Aug 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Ed McCulloch
As hard as it may be to believe – and the fact might change this weekend at Indy – but Ed “the Ace” McCulloch is still the king when it comes to Funny Car victories at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Yes, that’s right. Even though he…
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Racer's Scrapbook: Jim Dunn

Jim Dunn has been racing for more than 60 years, accumulating a series of honor and wins, first as a driver then, for the last 20-plus years, as the owner of a string of perpetually strong Funny Cars. He sat down to talk about some of the cars that have made up his career.
25 Aug 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Jim Dunn
Jim Dunn has been racing for more than 60 years, accumulating a series of honor and wins – and drivers – first as a driver then, for the last 20-plus years, as the owner of a string of perpetually strong Funny Cars. Dunn, a former fire captain,…
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A deep dive into the archive

The Dragster Insider column celebrates 10 years of telling "the stories behind the stories" in NHRA history with a deep dive into the archives to look at some of the interesting columns of the past decade.
18 Aug 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Insider
I can’t believe I let it slip past me – heck, I can’t believe you guys let it slip past me – but a few weeks ago (July 23 to be exact), we reached the 10-year anniversary of this humble internet bench-racing bar & grill. I knew it was…
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Racer's Scrapbook: Jerry Ruth

The vaunted "King of the Northwest," Top Fuel great Jerry Ruth, shares memories of some of his favorite race cars and memories from his storied 20-year career in the sport.
11 Aug 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Jerry Ruth
The chance to sit and talk with legends of drag racing is one of the real perks of my job, and for a kid who grew up following the sport from the other side of the printed page, it’s a dream come true to enjoy some one-on-one time with them. Due to…
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On The Road Again, 1970s-style

Today's Western Swing can be a grind on teams, but long tows, little sleep, and lots of racing were the order of the day on the 1970s match race trail.
04 Aug 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Tom McEwen
These days, the Western Swing is a pretty big deal, three weeks on the road with no chance to return to home base to restock and regroup. Two weeks ago I was tasked with creating …
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A farewell to friends

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for drag racing fans of the Heroes of Yesteryear, with the passings of national event winners Chuck Beal, John Collins, designer/promoter Doug Kruse, and former world champ Frank Hall.
28 Jul 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
John Collins
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for drag racing fans of the Heroes of Yesteryear, with the passings of Chuck Beal, John Collins, Doug Kruse, and Frank Hall, all names that should be familiar to followers of this column.  Beal had a multi-…
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Salisbury’s Stake in Top Fuel history

Thirty-five years ago at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Dwight Salisbury scored his lone NHRA Top Fuel win in a career that was filled with many other accomplishments.
21 Jul 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dwight Salisbury
Salisbury steak: A savory dish made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients and  usually served with gravy or brown sauce. Salisbury’s $take: A speedy Top Fueler made from a blend of a great driver…
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The Beach Boys Top Fueler

No, the car had nothing to do with the band that brought us "Surfin' U.S.A." and "Little Deuce Coupe," but in a short span in the late 1960s, car owner Jim Busby and drivers Hank "the Surfer" Westmoreland and Dwight Salisbury rode a wave of popularity and a good-running car to new heights.
14 Jul 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Beach Boys
Last week’s little song and dance about hot-rodding tunes by the Beach Boys met with more excitement than an outside break at Trestles, which is cool considering I was just musing aloud. Apparently, the Boys are very near and dear to the hearts of…
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Hot rodding with the Beach Boys

What goes good with barbecues and fireworks on the Fourth of July? Yep, that's right -- Beach Boys hot rod songs. Or maybe that's just us. Deconstructing the high-horsepower hits of America's band.
07 Jul 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Beach Boys
Independence Day is always a star-spangled affair, with backyard barbecues, fireworks, and flag waving galore. Oh yes, and the Beach Boys.  I’m a big ol’ Beach Boys fanboy from way back, and, because they truly are America’s band, they get a…
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Seattle in the '70s, Part 2

The NHRA Northwest Nationals take center stage on the NHRA Mello Yello tour in early August. Its venue, Pacific Raceways, has been a hotbed of nitro racing since the 1970s, Here's a look back at some great photos and memories from that era.
30 Jun 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Seattle
Well, we made it through the "Eastern Swing," four back-to-back-to-back-to-back weekends of grueling racing and traveling in equally grueling weather. After the upcoming Chicago event, its right back into another stretch, the fabled Western Swing…
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It's Clay's day ... finally

Clay Millican's Top Fuel win in Bristol wasn't just a breakthrough moment for him, but felt like a community event for the NHRA world, and lifted us all. NHRA National Dragster Editor Phil Burgess shares his thoughts on Millican's long run to victory.
23 Jun 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Clay Millican
I was one of the very few still there on a Monday in Montreal in 1987, when John Force finally broke through for his first NHRA Funny Car win after nine painful runner-ups, and I was there in Dallas in 2011 when Bob Vandergriff Jr. ended his NHRA-…
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Summernationals Time Machine, Part 2

09 Jun 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Summernationals
Welcome to Part 2 of our Summernationals Time Machine, looking at some late-1970s pit-area photos from Englishtown, as provided by column reader John Guzevich. Without further ado, let’s head back to E-Town, in 1978 With a trusty Kodak…
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Summernationals Time Machine

The upcoming Summernationals is one of the NHRA's most iconic events, with a deep and rich history. Step back into time 40 years ago for one fan's photographic memories of the event.
02 Jun 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Summernationals
Working at National Dragster affords me incredible access to decades and decades worth of photos in our vast image library dating back to NHRA’s earliest days. As you can imagine for a drag racing nut like me, it’s heaven. There are iconic…
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Remembering Johnny Abbott

Former U.S. Nationals-winning Top Fuel driver Johnny Abbott, who passed away May 20, was a fierce racer and a generous human being.
26 May 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
John Abbott
We lost former Indy-winning Top Fuel driver Johnny Abbott last Sunday, ending the life but not the legacy of one of the great gentlemen in our sport. You only have to visit his Facebook page and…
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That was then, this is now: 1991

The 1991 season was one of the wildest in NHRA history, with broken barriers, a nitro-shortage scare, wild crashes, overdue wins, rookie phenoms, and much more, and we've got the trivia quiz to prove it.
19 May 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Blowover
I had a lot of fun researching and reminiscing while creating last week’s column about Pat Austin’s double at the 1991 Topeka event, but, typical me, leafing through those old issues of National Dragster got my gears spinning. Going…
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Pat Austin and "The Double"

Pat Austin made drag racing history at Heartland Park Topeka in 1991 when he became the first driver to win in two classes at the same national event, scoring in Top Fuel and Alcohol Funny Car, but the road to fame wasn't an easy one.
12 May 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pat Austin
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour heads next week to Heartland Park Topeka, which has been the site of a lot of drag racing history over the last four decades, including the first four-second and 300-mph Funny Car passes way back in 1993…
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Readers Choice, my favorite time of year

If you’re an NHRA member or buy NHRA National Dragster on the newsstand, you’ll definitely want to check out the new issue, which went online Thursday and will be in mailboxes next week. ND Editor Phil Burgess tells you why.
26 Apr 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Garlits
If you’re an NHRA member or buy NHRA National Dragster on the newsstand, you’ll definitely want to check out the new issue, which went online Thursday and will be in mailboxes next week. The current issue is our annual Readers Choice…
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Seattle in the '70s, Part 1

The Great Northwest had some great car and great races, and some great photographers, too, as evidenced by the work of Herman Marchetti, who shares some of his images from the Seattle area in the 1970s.
18 Apr 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
hero
My column last week about the life and career of Hank Johnson stoked me into action to begin pulling together a large multi-column project I’d been working on of photos from the Great Northwest that were shot back in the 1970s by Herman Marchetti…
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Remembering “Gentleman Hank” Johnson

Sure, Top Fuel racer “Gentleman Hank” Johnson, who died earlier this week, was part of the answer to a great trivia question, but in a career that spanned more than two decades, he was much more than that.
14 Apr 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Hank Johnson
What does “Gentleman Hank” Johnson, one of the Northwest’s best Top Fuel and Funny Car racers, have in common with fellow 1970s Top Fuel racers Bob Gibson and Gary Beck? Or with ‘70s Pro Stock hero Larry Lombardo? Or with modern-day nitro gladiators…
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Friday at the movies

The internet is full of vintage drag racing footage. Here's five really cool nostalgic videos to enjoy.
31 Mar 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Theater
Last week’s bits and pieces column elicited a lot of positive feedback, but none more so than the nostalgic video from the 1973 Popular Hot Rodding Championships. I thought that it was a pretty well-known video — if for nothing more than Paul…
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A little of this, a little of that

From vintage drag cars found in hiding to some great old videos, new websites, and a resurfaced old drag racing board game, there's lots to catch up on in this week's Dragster Insider.
24 Mar 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Foulk
Back from another thrilling Gatornationals weekend – how ‘bout that Jonnie Lindberg making it to the Funny Car final in his debut? – with just enough time to catch my breath and do some scribbling for National Dragster before heading for Las Vegas…
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A work in progress

Like assembling a new car using old parts, so has been the challenge of resurrecting the archives of the Dragster Insider column. Old pieces that don't fit, new pieces that need a little massaging, and a whole lot of other work beneath the hood, but well worth it.
10 Mar 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Archives
Ever since NHRA.com migrated to this new site, a common lament among Insider followers was the loss of the column archives, which for years were easily accessible on the old site. Visitors could either used the collapsible year/month navigation and…
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Let there be lights!

Master racecar airbrush artist Kenny Youngblood discusses the fine but mostly lost art of painting faux headlights and grilles on Funny Cars.
03 Mar 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dennis Taylor's Evil, Wicked, mean and Nasty Mustang 6
A few columns ago, we all were discussing the many faces of Don Prudhomme’s first Hot Wheels Funny Car, marveling at the number of changes it underwent in its debut season, especially in the grille and headlight area. The whole discussion got me…
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The Art of Matt Levonas, Part 2

Last week I showed off some of the marvelous artwork by NHRA’s Northwest Division Director Matt Levonas and I’m back with more this week, including some cool 1970s Funny Cars.
24 Feb 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
LDR
Last week I showed off some of the marvelous artwork by NHRA’s Northwest Division Director Matt Levonas (you can find the article linked in the bar at left), and I’m back with more this week. As you all know, I’m a sucker for 1970s Funny Cars, so…
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The Art of Matt Levonas

Northwest Division Director Matt Levonas' passion for racing goes far beyond his divisional duties, as he's also a talented artist whose work spans the history of the sport. Here's a look at some of his nostalgic pieces.
17 Feb 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
art
When I was five years old, I made a drawing in my first grade class of George Washington astride a horse that my teacher raved about. Unfortunately for me, that’s probably still the level of my drawing skills. Sure, I can paint a picture in words,…
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News of the Week

In this week's Dragster Insider: Famous Funny Cars on the auction block, a female pioneer gets her due, and a farewell to a 1970s Pro Stock mainstay.
03 Feb 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
News
If it's Friday when you’re reading this, I’m in Phoenix for the NHRA Nitro Spring Training preseason testing, getting my first annual whiff of nitro, but I wish I’d have been in Arizona a couple of weekends ago for the Barrett Jackson auction in…
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How Frank Hawley came to drive the Chi-Town Hustler

Frank Hawley drove the Chi-Town Hustler Funny Car to two NHRA championships but how he got to drive the fabled machine is a tale of chance and fortitude. Even he didn't think he would get the job.
27 Jan 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Chi-Town 81
Although the new-look website prevents me from carrying over the familiar graphical banner and “The stories behind the stories” motto that headed this column for almost a decade, the motto and mantra still remains part of why I love this column…
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Remembering Pat Minick and the legend of the Chi-Town Hustler

20 Jan 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pat Minick
The passing of Pat Minick, original driver of the famed Chi-Town Hustler Funny Car, on Thursday took me by surprise and saddened me in the way that I mourn the loss of the pioneers of our sport. The heroes that I grew up reading about on the pages…
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