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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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-…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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.
10 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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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,…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

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…
View More

Of national consciousnesses and Pandora's Box

13 Jan 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Hot Wheels
Last week’s column on the many looks of Don Prudhomme’s first Barracuda included the statement that the car was the one “That launched Prudhomme’s name into the national consciousness.” I quickly heard from Insider regulars Dennis Friend and…
View More

The many faces of 'Snake's Cuda

06 Jan 2017
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Snake Cuda
Insider readers got such a charge late last year out of James Ibusuki’s detailed recounting of the many faces of the fabled Jungle Jim” Liberman Vega that I’m revisiting the idea again, this time using Don Prudhomme’s first Hot Wheels Barracuda as…
View More

Twas the Friday before Christmas

23 Dec 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Twas the night
Twas the Friday before Christmas, and all ‘cross the Nation Insider fans were fretting, thinking Phil’s on vacation. The browsers were loaded to the designated page In hopes of a column with which to engage. With letters all nestled correctly…
View More

'Jungle's' Vega: Who knows which nose?

16 Dec 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Many longtime NHRA fans may remember artist James Ibusuki, who burst onto the scene in the 1990s with a series of stunningly accurate, photo-realistic lithographs depicting great scenes from drag racing history. Although his business was a…
View More

It's 'Jungle,' by a nose ... and other stuff

09 Dec 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
As we get closer to the holidays and prepare to shut down the Insider for another year, I wanted to circle back to a few topics and address some other outstanding issues. I’m not sure how many more columns I’ll have this year, but as long as there’s…
View More

NHRA Funny Car champs over the years

02 Dec 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
As we wind down this 50 Years of Funny Car celebration, with Ron Capps – a huge fan of the history of our sport -- finally and fittingly crowned the champion, I took a look back over the list of champions who had preceded him and whose company he…
View More

Farrrrrr out ... it's 'Jungle Jim's' Vega

18 Nov 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Liberman
As “Jungle Jim” Liberman probably would have exclaimed, having the No. 1 Funny Car of all time on the fan-voted top-20 list is pretty “farrrrrr out.” Yes, race fans, when the final votes were tabulated, Liberman’s vaunted ’73 Vega emerged atop…
View More

The final showdown: 'Jungle' vs. Force

“Jungle Jim” or “Brute Force”? Nostalgic hero or modern-day legend? Vega or Firebird? Those are the questions that will be answered this weekend in Pomona when NHRA unveils the car atop the list of its yearlong fan vote among the top 20 Funny Cars of all time.
11 Nov 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
“Jungle Jim” or “Brute Force”? Nostalgic hero or modern-day legend? Vega or Firebird? Those are the questions that will be answered this weekend in Pomona when NHRA unveils the car atop the list of its yearlong fan vote…
View More