Though the 1955 NHRA Nationals was slated to run in its entirety in Great Bend, Kan., Mother Nature had other plans with the worst rainstorm in 30 years hitting the area on Saturday night, washing out Sunday’s competition and pushing the final three rounds to Phoenix weeks later.
In Phoenix, Calvin Rice and Fritz Voight worked their way through eliminations to meet up in the final. It took the pair four tries to get the title round in with three foul starts waving off the first three attempts. On the third try, both drivers jumped the flag start, and Rice’s transmission blew. Because the race had already been waved off by starter Paul Wallace as another “no-go,” Voight could not claim the trophy by default.
Officials gave Rice and his crew, led by Chuck Webster and Mel Dodd, 30 minutes to repair their entry. The team leapt into action, bolting in a new transmission, which didn’t fit. A reworked Ford tranny was bolted in, and the team just made it to the line in time, not even having time to adjust the clutch linkage. Rice had to scoot down deep into the seat and work the clutch with the tip of his toe to make the shift in the final, in which the 25-year-old California resident ran a 10.30 at 141.95 mph to defeat Voight.