NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Dragster Insider: Novembers to remember

Twelve-plus years and still going strong, the Dragster Insider column tells "the stories behind the stories" in the history of our sport. Here's a look back at some November stories from its archives.
08 Nov 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Dragster Insider

"Everything changes, that's a fact," to quote my musical hero Bruce Springsteen, and that's certainly been true over the 12-plus years of the Dragster Insider column. If you were around back in its inception in 2007, I used to write this column three times a week (!) -- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday -- simply because I could. I had a solid roster of a half-dozen writers under my command at National Dragster, but as the staff has been reduced over the years, so has my time to work on things outside of National Dragster.

The column went from three times a week to twice-weekly then, for a long time, weekly. Lately, it's been more hit and miss, sometimes weekly but most often once every other week as travel and those pesky print publication deadlines eat away at my time.

Before anyone gets a little panicky, I'm not shelving the column, I won't as long as I have the ability to write it and there are stories still to be told (and there are plenty of them). 

The big mistake I made early was publishing three times a week. I ate through a lot of subjects that would have kept me publishing for years. I put a lot of work into them and they're all still easily accessible through the Dragster Insider archive link that I put at the end of each column. I don't know how many of you go there, but there's some great (humble brag) stuff in there. So I've decided that on the Fridays when I'm not able to produce a column, I'll do a column about columns (genius, right?) so that no one goes through withdrawals. Even if you've been here since the beginning, you probably missed (or forgot about) some of them, so ... win-win.

They'll always begin with the 2007 column from whatever date is closest to now, and you can see how the storyline has progressed or just go "I remember that!" or "It's been that long ago?" Enjoy.

One nation, united for Wally

Nov. 7, 2007: A celebration of the life of NHRA founder Wally Parks at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Back on the ghost-track trail

Nov. 7, 2008: For a while, we got on a real roll looking at aerial images of where tracks used to be and looking at great old photos. This column covers Dover Drag Strip, Westhampton Dragstrip, Warner Robins Dragway. Double H Drag Strip, Augusta Int'l Raceway, Biloxi Dragway, Windsor Dragway, Beeline Dragway, and Hawaii Raceway Park

Presto! Conjuring up 'the Wizard'

Nov. 6, 2009: Catching up with Bennie Osborn I knew of his legend and finally got a chance to chat with him about his amazing Top Fuel career.

Sorry, Butch

Nov. 5, 2010: In what has become all-too-common, I spent too much time procrastinating about interviewing some great legend and then they pass away before I can. This time I missed the window on Funny Car stalwart Bucth Maas, but still found a way to tell his story.

Reyes brings on the ugly

Nov. 8, 2011: The second of two columns about cars with scars ... mostly Funny Cars that had been pretty battle-worn from blowups and all photos from the Insider's MVP (most valuable photographer), the legendary Steve Reyes.

Remembering Tripp Shumake

Nov. 7, 2012: Thirteen years after we lost "240 Shorty" to a street motorcycle accident, I connected with his daughter, Heather, and got to tell some great stories, all of which was the genesis for her to write a book about her dad.

Don-ning my Garlits-Prudhomme trivia cap

Nov. 8, 2013: This was super fun to do, comparing and contrasting the lives and careers of Don Garlits and Don Prudhomme. Kindof luck that old Abraham Lincoln-John F. Kennedy trivia we all learned in high school, but around drag racing.

The Photo Hoarder, Part 2

Nov. 7, 2014: People collect a lot of things. Me, I collect great drag racing images I've come across on the internet. Second of two parts (Part 1 linked in this column).

Teen Terrors of the '70s: 'Fearless Fred' Mooneyham

Nov. 6, 2015: I did a whole series of these, this one being the last; Previously I looked back at the careers of Billy Meyer, the Allison Brothers, John Stewart, Bobby Hilton, and Jeb Allen (all available in the 2014 section of the archive.

The final showdown: 'Jungle' vs. Force

Nov. 11, 2016: At the end of 2016's 50 Years of Funny Car celebration, we unveiled the results of the fan voting, which came down to "Jungle Jim" Liberman and John Force for No. 1. In this column, I took a deep dive into the personalities and legends of both: Showmanship, mechanical aptitude, salesmanship, the drive, and longevity.

Dramatic 2007 Auto Club NHRA Finals set the bar for tight points finishes

Nov. 10, 2017: Four championships decided by less than a round. 

So Long, Teresa

Nov. 9, 2018: One I hoped I never had to write, but a farewell to my longtime ND pal Teresa Long after her retirement last year.

OK, so there we have it. It took me considerably less time than a real column and hope that it helps fill the spaces between new columns. Let me know what you think of this occasional format and, again, as always, the archive is available any time you want to visit it. It's a pretty amazing collection of tales.

Phil Burgess can reached at pburgess@nhra.com

Hundreds of more articles like this can be found in the DRAGSTER INSIDER COLUMN ARCHIVE