NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Patriotic power

02 Jul 2010
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Well, here we are, on the cusp of a Fourth of July weekend, a time that's known as much for backyard barbecues and fireworks displays as it is an expression of pride in the United States. Though I'm sure that there are many nations whose residents are proud of their country, they don't seem to celebrate as much as Americans. It permeates all that we do and recognizes who we are, and that distinction certainly applies to that most American of motorsports, drag racing.

For decades, drag racers have carried their love of country into quarter-mile battle, whether it be with a simple American flag adorning a cockpit window or a full-blown patriotic paint scheme. I did a quick search of the term "America" in DragList's car-name field and was rewarded with more than 20 pages of results.

Clayton Taylor photo

Former Funny Car world champ Bruce Larson has to be the standard-bearer of all things patriotic with his long-running series of cars with the USA-1 name, which adorned Funny Cars and door cars alike along with a patriotic stars-and-stripes motif.

Are there other proud Americans? You bet. In fact, Vern Anderson's rocket dragster was named Proud American, and Earl Carter's late-1960s Corvette Funny Car also bore the same name, as did Jack Weller's Corvette Pro Mod car. Craig Breedlove had the Spirit of America Top Fueler, and Carl Casper's Gary Cochran-driven Top Fueler from the early 1970s was dubbed Young American, as was Mark Hildonen's later wheelstander (pictured above).

Harry Lehman, whose streamlined American Way Top Fueler was featured here a few weeks ago, just wrote to say that he's still going to give us the backstory on that wondrous machine.

Alcohol Dragster veteran Mike Kosky has long been known for his successful string of American Flyer entries, but did you know that chassis builder Art Morrison once fielded a Volkswagen wheelstander by the same name? Me either! Likewise, the late John Shoemaker was well-known for calling his Alcohol Dragsters American Eagle, a name also later used by Steve Plueger on his Funny Car.

Norman Blake photo

Dave Arnold had the All American Rat Pro Stock Camaro in the early 1970s, Grady Bryant the All American Boys Corvette Alcohol Funny Car, and Butch Claunch (Charger Funny Car), Jimmy King (Top Fuel), and Butch Kernodle (Alcohol Funny Car) simply went with All-American.

J.R. Wade, meanwhile, was living the American Dream with a thusly named Funny Car wheeled by numerous drivers, including Bret and Vicky Fanning and Larry Gould, and Lew Arrington called his Mustang-bodied rocket flopper Captain America.

And finally, due credit to Pat Bennett for calling his Pro Mod Nova the American Bad Ass and to Vann Ivy for paying his rent with an Alcohol Dragster called American Taxpayer, and, of course, Fred Spiezio's jet Funny Car, sponsored by Fireworks USA.

OK, folks, have a safe and sane weekend. I'll see you next week.