NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

BUY TICKETS

Ed 'the Outlaw' Jones: Living life on two wheels for more than 45 years

Wheelstanders have been part of the NHRA landscape since the mid-1960s, and no driver has more experience or longevity than Ed "the Outlaw” Jones, who first started scraping bumpers in 1976 and continues to this day, more than 45 years later.
10 Jun 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Ed 'the Outlaw' Jones
In the pantheon of drag racing exhibition vehicles, no class has been officially accepted by the NHRA longer than the wheelstander, and no driver has more experience or longevity than Ed "the Outlaw” Jones, who first started scraping bumpers in 1976…
View More

40 Thoughts on 40 Years

National Dragster Editor Phil Burgess celebrated his 40th year with the NHRA on May 24, and he takes a look back at the changes to the sport that have occurred over the last four decades and shares memories of the people and places he's come to love.
27 May 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
40 thoughts
I made what I thought was an innocent little post on Facebook earlier this week with a “How It Started/How It’s Going”-style meme photo, acknowledging my 40th anniversary in the employ of the NHRA, from May 24, 1982, until present (and counting…
View More

You never know with nitro: A look back at seven great Funny Car upset wins

Nowhere does weird stuff happen more than in nitro Funny Car, where the combination of high horsepower and a short wheelbase can derail a favorite’s run to the winner’s circle. With that in mind, here’s a look back at some memorable upset wins.
20 May 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Funny Car upset wins
Nitro drag racing is such a fickle sport, one where the slightest tuning miscalculation can send a potential race winner to the trailer for the rest of the day. And even if the tune-up is spot-on and the driver does everything correctly, the…
View More

Everyone loves an underdog: Here's a list of five great Top Fuel upsets

Upsets are a part of nitro drag racing, and we almost had a couple of them at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. With that in mind, here's a list of five big Top Fuel upsets in NHRA history.
06 May 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
great Top Fuel upsets
Everyone loves an underdog, and last weekend’s Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte almost provided us with a couple of those Every Underdog Has its Day kind of stories, as Mike McIntire Jr. in Funny Car and Cameron Ferré…
View More

30 years ago: The 1992 NHRA season was a year full of historic firsts

The 1992 season as a whole was filled with big news, history-making moments, and craziness, so we thought we'd take a 30-year hop back in time to remember that amazing season.
15 Apr 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1992 NHRA season
For the last week or so, we’ve been saluting the history of Houston Raceway Park on NHRA.com, having created a list of 10 memorable moments from the past 33 years, some of which read like mini Dragster Insider columns. On Tuesday, I wrote about…
View More

Female Pro Stock pioneer Shay Nichols: A life well lived (and then some)

Female Pro Stock pioneer Shay Nichols Hoffman lived a fast and exciting life long after she left the class: Fishing boat captain, world-class angler, helicopter pilot, commercial scuba diver, prison chaplain, author, and more.
08 Apr 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Shay Nichols
Among the many great joys I get in crafting this column beyond getting to share the stories of our sport’s legends and trailblazers is the chance to speak with them. Despite my best sleuthing (and I’m pretty good at that), sometimes it’s hard to…
View More

Magnificent Seven: A history of female racers in NHRA Pro Stock competition

In its 52-year, 902-race lifespan, only seven female drivers have raced in NHRA Pro Stock competition. From Shirley Shahan and Shay Nichols in 1971 through barrier-breakers Lucinda McFarlin and Erica Enders to current rookie Camrie Caruso, here's a look at that magnificent seven.
25 Mar 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Magnificent Seven
Thirteen years before Pro Stock superstar Erica Enders turned a tire in the class and six years before current rookie hotshot Camrie Caruso was even born, Lucinda McFarlin made NHRA Pro Stock history as the first female racer in the class to win a…
View More

“On the Gas”: The drag racing life and times of Danny Ongais

Long before Danny Ongais became a household name as a revered IndyCar driver, he belonged to the world of drag racing, where he first sated his need for speed. In this week's Dragster Insider, friends and fellow racers remember the guy nicknamed “On the Gas.”
04 Mar 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Danny Ongais
  Long before Danny “On the Gas” Ongais became a household name across the country and around the world on television and radio as a revered IndyCar driver, he belonged to us, to the world of drag racing, where he sated his need for…
View More

Remembering Barry Setzer

Barry Setzer, who for two years in the early 1970s was the owner of the quickest and fastest Funny Car on the planet, passed away Jan. 31 at age 79.
25 Feb 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Barry Setzer
As an impressionable, almost-teenage drag racing fam in the early 1970s whose primary contact with the sport was through the many monthly magazines, Barry Setzer was a bit of an enigma. His name was everywhere in 1972 and ’73, plastered on the…
View More

The magic of Pomona

NHRA has been racing down the Pomona dsragstrip since the early 1950s and will once again kick off its season next week with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals. Here's a look back at some memorable images over the past 70 years.
11 Feb 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Winternationals
Pomona. For NHRA racers and race fans around the world, the name means one of two things: either the exciting start to another season of NHRA racing or the dramatic conclusion of a year of racing. From 1961 through to today – skipping last year’s…
View More

By The Numbers: Pro Stock readies for 900th event 'birthday' in Pomona

Pro Stock made its debut at the 1970 Winternationals and will celebrate its 900th competition event at this year’s Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com. Here's a look at some statistics from the first 899 events.
04 Feb 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pro Stock
The popular Pro Stock class made its debut on Jan. 30, 1970 at the season-opening Winternationals and will celebrate its 900th competition event at this year’s NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals…
View More

That was then, this is now: A look back at the NHRA season 50 years ago

The 2022 NHRA season is already being hyped by racers and fans alike as a can’t-miss campaign, but let’s turn back the clock exactly 50 years and take a look back at the highlight-filled 1972 season.
28 Jan 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1972
The 2022 NHRA season is already being hyped by racers and fans alike as a can’t-miss campaign, with new cars, sponsors, teams, and partnerships boosting car counts and intrigue to impressive levels. Because it’s what we do here at the Insider, let’s…
View More

90 for 90: Happy Birthday, Don Garlits

There’s never been another drag racer quite like Don Garlits, and there’s probably never going to ever be anyone like “Big Daddy.” The icon of our sport turned 90 years old Jan. 14, and we’re celebrating him with a massive 90-image photo gallery spanning his career.
14 Jan 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Swamp Rat I: Built on the framerails of a '31 Chevy passenger car that Garlits bought at a junkyard for $35 in 1956 90
Let’s admit it: There’s never been another drag racer quite like Don Garlits, and there’s probably never going to ever be anyone like “Big Daddy.” Heck, there’s probably no one else in the world exactly like Donald Glenn Garlits, who turns 90 years…
View More

Remembering the "other" Dick Venables and the "other" James Warren

Anyone who knows anything about drag racing knows the names of Dickie Venables and James Warren. But today we're going to acquaint you with the racing Dick Venables and James Warren that maybe you didn’t know, both of whom we lost in the last week of December. 
07 Jan 2022
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dick Venables
Anyone who knows anything about drag racing — and especially readers of this column — knows the names of Dickie Venables and James Warren. Venables is well known as a three-time (and counting) Funny Car world championship crew chief with Matt Hagan…
View More

Decembers to remember

Every December is a time to stop to reflect on the past 12 months: What went right, what went wrong, what we can do better in the next year. Or, if you're the author of a long-running column about drag racing history, a look back at some memorable December stories.
24 Dec 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Decembers to remember
It's late December, and we've all got a lot on our plates. Maybe you're thrashing on the hot rod in your garage before winter shuts you down for a few months, or maybe you're headed to a sunny beach somewhere to escape the cold. Or maybe you're…
View More

Don Garlits, Bob Taaffe, and the 72-hour car build that led to drag racing lore

Don Garlits' amazing win at the 1967 Nationals, so well remembered for his post-race starting-line beard shave, might not have been possible without Bob Taaffe, who helped "Big Daddy" build a new car in just 72 hours. Garlits remembers Taaffe after his recent passing.
17 Dec 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Garlits
“When the Godfather calls, you come running.” Fred Miller told me, joking about Don Prudhomme inviting him to come out from Florida to California for his…
View More

The Hot Rod Story

In 1952, hot rodding had a bad name. An NHRA pamphlet, the Hot Rod Story, set a blueprint for moving forward with a rallying call that reads almost like the Gettysburg Address of NHRA. You should read this to know from whence we came.
10 Dec 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Hot Rod Story
The 2021 NHRA season was a yearlong celebration of NHRA’s 70th anniversary, an opportunity for us to reflect on its humble beginnings and stand in awe of how big NHRA has grown from the seeds planted by a letter to Hot Rod magazine…
View More

More 'Lost' Photos found

More great photos from the National Dragster archives: Shirley Muldowney, Blaine Johnson, "Flash Gordon" Mineo, John Myers, Buster Couch, Al Hofmann, Richard Tharp, and many more!
03 Dec 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
As the date of The Big Move approached in late October — timed horribly with our impending trip to Las Vegas — ND…
View More

Name That Funny Car

The annual Manufacturers Meet at Orange County Int'l Raceway in Southern California was a big deal back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, drawing the best of the best. But how many can you identify? We've got the answers!
26 Nov 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Name That Funny Car
Last week’s “lost photos” column inspired a ton of response from fans who remembered many of the subjects of the photos, but none drew more interest than the group photo of Funny Cars on the Orange County Int’l raceway track prior to the annual…
View More

Snakes, Mongooses, Rats, and Terrible Towels: Not just another photo collection

Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen, Roland Leong, Gary Beck, and more are part of an eclectic and interesting batch of rediscovered photos.
19 Nov 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
Moving stinks. We all agree on that. But anyone who’s ever moved also knows that it’s a great way to find lost or forgotten things. Just look at the 1955 Nationals entry list…
View More

Finals Flashback: 1971 World Finals where upsets and breakage ruled the day

Take a 50-year trip back in history to relive the 1971 NHRA World Finals, where upsets winners and surprising breakage helped decide the world championships.
05 Nov 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1971 World Finals
The 2021 season wraps up next weekend at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with the Auto Club NHRA Finals, the 57th running of the race that’s colloquially best known as “the World Finals.”  From 1960 through 1964, NHRA’s world champions were…
View More

Found! 1955 Nationals entry list

On the eve of NHRA's historic 1,000th national event, a blast from the past: The official entry list for the 1955 National Championship Drags, NHRA's first national event, is like a time capsule for our sport, filled with legendary names from drag racing's early greats.
28 Oct 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1955 Nationals entry list
I knew I had it somewhere, but where? Somewhere along the way, someone had given me a copy of the hand-typed official entry list for NHRA’s first national event, the 1955 National Championship Drags in Great bend, Kan., The Big One that got this…
View More

Of missing jackets, missing friends, missing columns, and moving on down the road

The return of the Dragster Insider includes the tale of the missing firesuit, memories of John "Tarzan" Austin and Dal Denton, and moving on from one NHRA home to another.
22 Oct 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
Hello, Insider nation! Long time no see. Between running six national events in eight weeks, a bunch of travel, my “streamlined” staff, producing the biggest issue in NHRA National Dragster history (244 pages!), and the process of the big…
View More

From Calvin Rice to John Force, a look at the history of NHRA's all-time winners

One thing that likely will never change in our lifetimes is that John Force is the winningest driver in NHRA history (154 victories and counting), but he wasn't always the GOAT of winners. Here's a historical look back at NHRA's winningest drivers over the decades.
01 Oct 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
NHRA's Alltime winners
  A lot has happened since the last Dragster Insider column, including four straight weekends of national event racing (hence the column’s absence), but one thing that hasn’t changed, and likely will never change in our lifetimes, is…
View More

Indy 1971: 'The Great Burndown'

Staging battles are all the talk right now, but the most epic burndown in NHRA history happened in the Top Fuel final 50 years ago at the 1971 U.S. Nationals between Steve Carbone and "Big Daddy" Don Garlits.
27 Aug 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Great Burndown
Two weeks ago in Topeka, Pro Stock racers Bruno Massel and Mason McGaha set the internet ablaze with the controversy surrounding their three-and-a-half-minute starting-line staging duel, a battle that neither won after they were both disqualified…
View More

Can't beat the heat: Before Justin Ashley, there was the tale of Jim Harnsberger

A lot of people gasped when Justin Ashley had to withdraw from the Winternationals Top Fuel final due to heat exhaustion, but it wasn’t the first time that’s happened in NHRA Top Fuel history. Meet Jim Harnsberger, who had the same thing happen to him 50 years ago while preparing his car for the final.
06 Aug 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Jim Harnsberger
When Justin Ashley had to be pulled out of his car before the final round of Top Fuel at the summer Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals…
View More

A History of the Western Swing

The NHRA Western Swing has been around since 1989, but this year, it has a new look and a shot at making some more history. Here's a detailed history of the Western Swing with a look back at those who have swept the Swing and those who have gotten close.
09 Jul 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Western Swing
When NHRA introduced the Western Swing in 1989 — a three-races-in-three-weekends test of technology and tenacity from the high-altitude climes of Denver to Northern California’s Sonoma Wine Country to Seattle in the Great Northwest — it was a real…
View More

Remembering Leslie Lovett

Twenty-five years ago, the NHRA world lost one of its finest people and greatest emissaries when National Dragster Photo Editor Leslie Lovett died of a heart attack, but his legacy and images continue to power and inspire the sport.
02 Jul 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Leslie Lovett 31
  Even 25 years later, I still want to cry.  On July 2, 1996 — a quarter-century ago today — the NHRA world lost one of its finest people and greatest emissaries when National Dragster Photo Editor Leslie Lovett died of…
View More

Shining the spotlight on Funny Car: 900 races, 92 winners, 23 champions

The Funny Car class hit its milestone 900th event last weekend in Epping. Here's a look back at the 92 winners, 23 champions, and interesting facts and trivia covering the class' history.
18 Jun 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Funny Car
It was less than two years ago — at the fall Las Vegas event in 2019 — that Top Fuel reached its 900-event milestone, and its nitro-burning little brother, Funny Car, reached the same…
View More

Book review: Drag Racing's Warren "the Professor" Johnson

A lot of people love Pro Stock. Kelly Wade LOVES Pro Stock. And she loves people, making her the perfect person to tackle the daunting task of chronicling the life and times of “the Professor,” Warren Johnson.
11 Jun 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Warren Johnson
  A lot of people love Pro Stock. Kelly Wade LOVES Pro Stock. The former NHRA National Dragster staffer turned drag racing public-relations pro began her passionate affair with the class early in her two-plus-year…
View More