NHRA - National Hot Rod Association


At 18, Dylan Winefsky is taking a nostalgic approach to racing

25 Dec 2022
Kelly Wade
Dylan Winefsky

Nostalgia drag racing is an experience like none other. Attending an NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series event at Firebird Raceway in Boise or meandering through orange groves to suddenly stumble upon Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., is like jumping in a time machine, and each of the facilities that host the eight-race nostalgia tour have unique characteristics that bring organized, thunderous drag racing back to its roots. Strangely enough, 18-year-old Dylan Winefsky has found that he fits right in amongst some of the sport's most diligently devoted and historically invested drag racing enthusiasts and their nitro-burning Nostalgia Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars. 

Winefsky earned his NHRA Nostalgia Funny Car license at the age of 17, and his first race in the nitro fuel altered previously piloted by his father, Robert, was the 2022 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet. Young Winefsky qualified No. 3 in 14 cars vying for the eight-car field and recorded a semifinals finish. 

"I was really nervous at that first race," said Winefsky, who is also the car chief and assembles everything off-site before getting to the race. Once there, he steps aside and lets the crew take over as he focuses solely on driving.

"It was my first time running in competition against anyone else, and I didn't want to mess up or make a fool of myself. I knew I had to be on my best game possible. There was a little bit of an intimidation factor – at the time, I was just a 17-year-old kid, and I don't think anybody thought I could do it." 

His concerns were based in logic; the 6.0 Fuel Altered adorned with Winefsky's Nitro Moose logo is a Mark Williams Funny Car kit with a 125-in. wheelbase, and it's a far cry from anything the youngster has driven before. 

Winefsky got his start in the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League as soon as it was legal, and after eight years in the half-scale dragster ranks, he earned his Super Comp license at Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School. From there, he acquired an Advanced E.T. license in his family's de-tuned Fuel Altered, and under the advice and guidance of nitro legend Johnny West, he then licensed in NHRA Nostalgia Funny Car. 

"It was a big change from what I was used to," he shared. "There were big changes, from launching the car to driving the car, and it took about three runs to really get comfortable with where the brake handle is, to parachute, to fuel shut-off. The hardest part in the beginning was just figuring out the placement of everything, but one of the best parts was having Johnny West by my side the whole time. He helped a lot with the mental part of driving the car, and he also helped tune the car. It was great." 

The El Mirage, Ariz., resident, who also credited Brian Hope and Kyle Hough for their insight, attended six races – including two exhibition events – in his new ride, getting ever-comfortable all the time. In addition to the semifinals performance at his first race, Winefsky reached the semis again at the 51st annual Nightfire Nationals in Boise, and to close out the season he was extended an invitation to race at the California Hot Rod Reunion, where he was presented with the Legends of Nitro Rookie of the Year award. 

"That was pretty spectacular," said Winefsky. "I really wasn't expecting it because there were a couple of other competitors that ran really good, too. But our performance sewed it up towards the end."

The stellar ending to the year was dream-like for Winefsky, who'd had his eye on racing his dad's car since he was a small child. 

"I was four or five in 2010 when my dad first built this car, and from the beginning, I knew I wanted to drive it someday," Winefsky recalled. "My dad enjoys tuning the car more than driving it now, so I get my turn." 

This fall, young Winefsky earned his NHRA nitro Funny Car, and the family has since acquired a chassis from John Force Racing that they plan to first build as another Fuel Altered and then, down the road, transition into what the former Jr. racer called "a Big Show car" and race Nostalgia Funny Car. 

"There have been a lot of challenges this year, just driving the [Fuel Altered]," said Winefsky, who raced in 2022 with the support of Robert's Car Care, Kevin Stith and Stith Printing Inc., DJ Safety, Advantage Towing, and American Flowtech. "Every time you go out, it could do something different than it has before – there's something new every time. But the other side of that is how rewarding it is. Getting Rookie of the Year at the Hot Rod Reunion was such a surprise that I was speechless for a couple of minutes there. I think my rookie season went better than anyone expected."