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Fan Fotos: Top Fuelers, Funny Cars, and Pro Stockers of the early 1980s, Part 2

Continue your trip down memory lane with these fan-submitted photos from NHRA national events of the early 1980s, including photos of Don Garlits, Tom McEwen, and many more,
03 Apr 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
  We’re back for Part 2 of Insider reader Jim Riddiford’s Fan Fotos, a collection of images shot in the early 1980s at places like Orange County Int’l Raceway, Bakersfield Raceway, and Ontario Motor Speedway. If you missed Part 1, you can…
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Fan Fotos: Top Fuelers, Funny Cars, and Pro Stockers of the early 1980s

Take a trip down memory lane with these fan-submitted photos from NHRA national events of the early 1980s. John Force, Shirley Muldowney, Don Prudhomme, the Chi-Town Hustler, and many more!
27 Mar 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Fan Fotos
In another installment of reader-shared photos, I proudly publish these from the lens of Jim Riddiford. We at National Dragster first became acquainted with Jim a few years ago after he submitted a great photo of Cruz Pedregon’s wild, body-…
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History class is in session: More than 700 articles covering the legends of drag racing

Enjoy the history of our sport, today by those who helped build it. NHRA National Dragster Editor Phil Burgess has authored more than 700 articles covering legends of the sport, trends, cars, events, and remembrances that can be found in the Dragster Insider column archive.
23 Mar 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Funny Car
Since 2007, NHRA National Dragster Editor Phil Burgess has been telling and sharing "the stories behind the stories" of the history of our sport in his Dragster Insider column  From exclusive interviews with the legends of our sport like Don…
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Remembering '70s stars Don "the Beachcomber" Johnson and Henry Harrison

For fans of nitro racing in the 1960s and ‘70s, the last week was a double whammy, especially for West Coast fans with the passing of Top Fuel/Funny Car owner/driver Don “the Beachcomber” Johnson and Top Fuel/Funny Car/Fuel Altered pilot and owner Henry Harrison.
20 Mar 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Henry Harrison
For fans of nitro racing in the 1960s and ‘70s, the last week was a double whammy, especially for West Coast fans with the passing of Top Fuel/Funny Car owner/driver Don “the Beachcomber” Johnson and Top Fuel/Funny Car/Fuel Altered pilot and owner…
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SoCal doorslammer legend Bob Lambeck remembers first years of Pro Stock

Southern California doorslammer legend Bob Lambeck, whose son Doug has been in a three-race tear in Comp, was in on the ground floor of Pro Stock in 1970 and remembers those early first days of the class.
13 Mar 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Bob Lambeck
For next week’s issue of NHRA National Dragster, I wrote a feature on Comp racer Doug Lambeck, who’s been on a tear the last three events, with wins at the 2019 Finals and 2020 Winternationals and a runner-up at the NHRA Arizona…
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Fan Fotos: Early 1970s Gainesville Raceway

Gainesville Raceway, site of next weekend's Amallie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, opened in late 1969 and hosted the first Gatornationals in 1970. Here's a quick look back at the track in its earliest days, through the lens of a longtime NHRA fan.
06 Mar 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Gainesville
The Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals kicks off late next week at famed Gainesville Raceway, so it’s perfect timing that Bruce Peters sent me some photos from his personal collection of the track and the facility. Inspired by…
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SoCal Nitro Scrapbook: 1976-78

Southern California was a hotbed of Funny Car racing in the mid-1970s, with guys like Don "the Snake" Prudhomme, "Big Jim" Dunn, and good ol' John Force patrolling the dragstrips.
28 Feb 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Nitro
  It was pure happenstance that I opened the drawer in the credenza in my office yesterday and out tumbled a four-decade-plus old scrapbook of drag racing photos I had taken in the mid- to late-1970s. They aren’t great by any means –- I…
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Memorable Winternationals Moments, Part 3: the 2000s and 2010s

We wrap up our three-part look at memorable moments from the 60 years of the NHRA Winternationals with the two most recent decades, the 2000s and the recently completed 2010s. Great legends of the past give way to new legends in the making as the Winternationals history roared on.
07 Feb 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Winternationals
We wrap up our three-part look at memorable moments from the 60years of the nHRA Winternationals with the two most recent decades, the 2000s and the recently completed 2010s. Great legends of the past give way to new legends in the making as the…
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60 Memorable Winternationals Moments, Part 2: the 1980s and '90s

As we close in on the launch of the 2020 season and the 60th annual Lucas Oil Winternationals, we continue our look back at the rich history of the event. In Part 2, we're focusing on the 1980s and '90s.
31 Jan 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pomona
As we close in on the launch of the 2020 season and the 60th annual Lucas Oil Winternationals, we continue our look back at the rich history of the event. Last week we revisted…
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60 Memorable Winternationals Moments, Part 1: the 1960s and '70s

The fabled NHRA Winternationals will celebrate its 60th anniversary at the 2020 Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com. In this first of three parts, here’s a look at memorable moments from the 1960s and '70s from the deep history of the event.
24 Jan 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dennis Geisler
The first 2020 issue of National Dragster contains a wonder feature saluting the upcoming 60th Lucas Oil NHRA NHRA Winternationals, a race is so steeply ingrained in the history of the sport as to sometimes be inseparable. Don…
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Remembering John Kimble

John Kimble, one of the first successful black Top Fuel racers, passed away Jan. 6 and is remembered by friends and family as a quiet giant who loved family and racing. He was 81.
10 Jan 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
John Kimble
We lost another pivotal person in drag racing history earlier this week when John Kimble passed away. The Compton, Calif., based racer was one of the first black Top Fuel racers to find modern-day success in the sport with the family-owned…
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In the Christmas spirit

A look back at some Christmas-inspired Dragster Insider columns from years past.
27 Dec 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Christmas
Ho-ho-hoping you’re enjoying some holiday time with your family. I know I am. In the spirit of Christmas giving –- and “guy shopping” (knowing and delivering the perfect gift within minutes) -– here’s a look back at some Christmas-inspired Insider…
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The Clapshaw Effect: How Don Garlits finally made his first 300-mph pass

Thanks to a huge assist from fellow racer Gary Clapshaw, "Big Daddy" Don Garlits was able to race to his first 300-mph performance at the 2001 U.S. Nationals. In the wake of Clapshaw's passing Dec. 15, it's a story worth retelling.
20 Dec 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Garlits
Don Garlits made a lot of meaningful passes in his long career in Top Fuel –- comebacks after accidents, comebacks after retirements, first runs in innovative new cars, U.S. Nationals final rounds –- but there’s no doubt that the pass he made on…
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Rodney Flournoy: Still nitro after all these years

Rodney Flournoy was a Southern California fan favorite in the 1980s with his family-run Funny Car. Nearly 40 years later, he's still burning nitro in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series, now with his daughter at his side.
13 Dec 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Rodney Flournoy
There are just certain racers you know who always bring a smile to your face, and for me, one of them is Rodney Flournoy. I met Rodney and his family my first year on the job back in the early 1980s and fell in love with them. Their Funny Car…
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A final farewell to 'the Dones'

An all-star cast of racers and longtime acquaintances of “the Dones” gathered at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum to remember legendary promoter Bill Doner and tell old stories and celebrate one of the most unique members of the drag racing family.
21 Nov 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Museum
You know when you hear a really funny joke with a punchline so bawdy that you can’t tell it in mixed company and it’s going to burn a hole right through your very being to not be able to? Yeah, that’s me after the Bill Doner “celebration of life…
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A brief history of the NHRA Finals

The NHRA season closer hasn’t always been held at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. In fact, since the inaugural event in 1965, the race has been run at six locations, more places than any other NHRA race. Here is a look at the history of the event and the drama it always produces.
15 Nov 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Finals
And so we head off to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona this weekend for the 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season finale. For us here at National Dragster it’s a “home game” – the Pomona track is only about eight miles from NHRA HQ –- but that’s…
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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
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…
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Top Fuel turns 900

This weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will mark the 900th NHRA national event to include the Top Fuel class, dating back to the 1963 Winternationals. Here's a look back at the heroes and stats of the class.
31 Oct 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Top Fuel
This weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will…
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Remembering '70s Funny Car hitter Bill Leavitt

Drag racing lost another of its nitro-racing veterans Sept. 25 with the passing of 1970s Funny Car star Bill Leavitt just about a week shy of his 81st birthday. Leavitt was the first Funny Car driver to record an elapsed time of less than 6.5 seconds.
17 Oct 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Bill Leavitt
Drag racing lost another of its nitro O.G.s Sept. 25 with the passing of 1970s Funny Car star Bill Leavitt just about a week shy of his 81st birthday. Leavitt was known to fans of the ‘70s floppers for his incredibly quick and steady Quickie Too…
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Cory Mac: He always played to win, and he did a lot of that

Earlier this week, veteran Top Fuel racer Cory McClenathan announced his pending retirement from competition. Here's a look back at his 30-year career behind the butterfly.
04 Oct 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Cory McClenathan
Earlier this week, veteran Top Fuel racer Cory McClenathan announced his pending retirement from competition. I’ve known Cory Mac for decades, since he first burst onto the NHRA scene in 1989 in Alcohol Dragster. His team was one of the five we…
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Surfing Safari, Part 2: The Surfers, the Hawaiian, Hondas, and Jim Morrison (!)

Words of admiration and old stories keep rolling in after the passing of Tom Jobe, resulting in some more touching tributes and interesting stories about the fabled Surfers Top Fuel team of the 1960s.
20 Sep 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Surfers
Country music star Tim McGraw has a cut on his new album called “If I Died Today” that made me think a lot about Tom Jobe and the outpouring of love and respect for him that poured into my email box after last week’s…
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A farewell to Tom Jobe: The last of the Surfers

Bob Skinner, Mike Sorokin, and Tom Jobe, known collectively to Top Fuel fans of the mid-1960s as The Surfers, rode a wave of success and popularity for three years. With the Sept. 7 passing of Jobe, the last surviving Surfer, we look back at their magical time.
13 Sep 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Tom Jobe
There’s never going to be another Top Fuel team like the Surfers, the trio of West Coast pals whose approach to nitro racing in the mid-1960s was unknown and befuddling to their peers. Pictured from left, Bob Skinner, Mike Sorokin, and…
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Farewell to 'the Dones'

Legendary 1970s racetrack operator and promoter Bill Doner, who died last week, was a lot of things to a lot of people -- benefactor, starmaker, friend, adversary, storyteller -- but above all he was loved, revered, and respected by those in his universe.
23 Aug 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Bill Doner
The first time I ever saw Bill Doner was in a photo that was circulating among the National Dragster staff in 1982, my first year at the magazine. Now, that might sound like a pretty crazy admission by someone who attended pretty…
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64 Years of Indy Trivia

The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will celebrate its 65th running in just a few days, and a lot of history has been created across the decades. Here's a look at some of the interesting trivia from the event that we've put together.
20 Aug 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Indy
Ten years ago, I wrote this column with a slew of trivia about the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. In the decade since, a lot has changed and some of it hasn’t, so in honor of…
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For two fans, when it comes to the U.S. Nationals, it's a lifelong love affair

At this year's Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, as they have been for the last 60 years, when the event was held in Detroit, two longtime fans of the sport will be settled into their seats watching all of the action at the 65th edition of the "Big Go."
09 Aug 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Indy
It’s one thing to say you’ve been to every edition of the NHRA New England Nationals, which is just seven years old, but when it comes to an event like the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, which celebrates its 65th running this year at…
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Saluting U.S. Nationals history: "Ohio George" Montgomery dominates early Nationals

Between 1955 and 1963, only one driver, George Montgomery, had won NHRA's Nationals more than once, and, incredibly, he had won it three times before anyone had even won it twice.
26 Jul 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
George Montgomery
The 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is coming up, and promises to be a celebration…
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Saluting U.S. Nationals history: Prudhomme, Leong, and the spirit of '65

The 65th Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is just round the corner and the number 65 itself is a great piece of event history. In 1965, Winternationals winners Don Prudhomme and car owner Roland Leong became the first to win two NHRA national events in a season when they won at Indy after a long road trip.
12 Jul 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Prudhomme
The 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is coming up, and promises to be a celebration of the…
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Saluting U.S. Nationals history: The story of Marvin "Who?" Graham

The 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is coming up and promises to be a celebration of the event’s long and rich history. In the months leading up the event, we'll chronicle some of the great stories that made Indy the world’s biggest and most important drag race. This week: Indy's "unknown" Top Fuel winner.
28 Jun 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Marvin Graham
The 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is coming up, and promises to be a celebration of the…
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A little catchup time

Remembering Funny Car owner Jim Green, photo researching with Don Prudhomme, and catching up with Marvin "Who?" Graham.
14 Jun 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Insider
Just a quick little update today to keep the wheels rolling. As I noted a few weeks ago, with the new race weekend scheme on NHRA.com where we post a ton more stories than in the past, I’d rather not have the Insider columns buried by the race…
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Color our world: Remembering master racecar painter Bill Carter

Legendary race car painter “Wild Bill” Carter created some of the most memorable paint jobs for some of the sport’s most famous racers.
07 Jun 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Bill Carter
Don Prudhomme. Shirley Muldowney. Tom McEwen. Ed McCulloch. Tommy Ivo. Joe Pisano. Dale Pulde. Tony Nancy. Tom Hoover. K.S. Pittman. That’s a pretty solid Drag Racing First Team. That’s also just a partial customer list for renowned racecar…
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