NHRA Drag Racing will reach a major milestone with the running of its 1,000th national event, Oct. 29-31 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The long and proud history of major NHRA events began with the running of the first National Championship Drags, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 1955, at the Great Bend (Kan.) Municipal Airport and will reach the milestone mark at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, the penultimate event of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Here’s a quick look at some 1,000th-race statistics and trivia compiled by NHRA historian Bob Frey.
- The 1,000 races have given us 2,684 different winners, an A-to-Z list that stretches from Craig Abbott to Leo Zynda and from Aaron Stanfield to Zack Torres.
- Among those event champions are 32 different winners named “Smith” (and 1 named Smyth) along with 25 different drivers named Johnson, plus two different drivers named Jim Hughes, who won at the same event (2002 Las Vegas 1).
- Including the SPORTSnationals, the most national events ever held in a single year is 27 (four different times).
- In the decade from 2010 through 2019, there was a total of 258 national events, the most in any decade.
- Counting the SPORTSnationals as one event (like the U.S. Nationals is one event even though it has been held at different locations), there have been a total of 46 different national events. The most (of course) is the U.S. Nationals with 67 while the only national event that was run one time was the 50th anniversary event at Pomona in 2001 (excluding the 2020 COVID-19 season and the three one-off events held in Indy).
- There have been 930 events that include Top Fuel, 912 events with Funny Cars, 898 with Pro Stock, and 472 with Pro Stock Motorcycle (as an official class).
- 930 is a lot of races, but because there have been 55 different SPORTSnationals, the class that has competed at the most National events is Stock eliminator, which has been contested a total of 947 times.
- And it should come as no surprise that Chevrolet has been the dominant car in the winner’s circle, and the most dominant Chevy model has been the Camaro. A total of 2,970 Camaros have been in final rounds at national events. Ben Wenzel was the first Camaro to make a final round (Indy 1967), and they are still visiting the winner’s circle as recently as Bristol when Greg Stanfield won Super Stock in his ‘87 Camaro.
- The road to the milestone:
1st event: 1955 National Championship Drags, Great Bend, Kan.
100th event: 1977 Fallnationals, Seattle
200th event: 1986 Gatornationals, Gainesville
300th event: 1992 Winternationals, Pomona
400th event: 1997 Western Auto Nationals, Topeka
500th event: 2001 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Indy
600th event: 2005 ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas
700th event: 2009 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Indy
800th event: 2013 NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma
900th event: 2017 NHRA New England Nationals, Epping
1,000th event: 2021 Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas