Down the video rabbit hole: Watching 1970s match racing on the small screen
It all started innocently enough, with one YouTube video showing roller starters in action, and the next thing you know, it was hours and hours of 1970s match racing. Well, there goes your Friday.
It all started innocently enough, with Insider reader Eric Arnett sending me a link to a YouTube video showing the roller starters in action in 1973 at fabled U.S. 30 Drag Strip in Gary, Ind., a nice little add-on to my recently in-depth piece about…
Roll players: A look back at the era when cars were fired up with roller starters
In the period between the advent of the push start and remote engine starters, some tracks used car-engine-powered or electric-powered roller starters that helped racer start their cars in a safer manner. Here's a look back at the practice and the technology involved.
Before NHRA mandated the use of remote starters for Top Fuelers for the 1975 season, the time-honored tradition of starting a Top Fueler was the good-old push start. In much the same way that you can jump-start your dead-battery, manual…
The day that Mario Andretti went drag racing in a Tasca Ford-prepped Mustang
Auto-racing superstar Mario Andretti only dabbled once in drag racing, in a Ford vs. Chevy exhibition in Connecticut where Andretti's Tasca Ford-prepped machine won four straight races against a more experienced opponent.
A couple of weeks ago on NHRA.com, I put together a goofy little story about Mario Andretti and his connection with drag…
Farewell to a fearsome fuel foursome
It’s been a somber month in the United States and around the world and it certainly has touched our little NHRA world with the passing of a quartet of diehard NHRA nitro racers you may or may not know or remember: driver/owners Johnny White and Bobby Tapia and car owners Bill Blomgren and Glenn Solano.
It’s been a somber month in the United States and around the world and it certainly has touched our little NHRA world with the passing of a quartet of diehard old NHRA nitro racers you may or may not know or remember: driver/owners Johnny…
Farewell to a brother editor, Jim Edmunds
Jim Edmunds, who served as the editor of NHRA National Dragster for nearly seven years, passed away April 25 and is remembered by the guy who holds his job now, current ND editor Phil Burgess, and some of his other fellow colleagues.
In its first 10 years, National Dragster changed editors the way that Roland Leong used to change drivers: Frequently and often with little notice. From 1960 through 1969, the name atop spot the magazine’s masthead changed 11…
Remembering Barbara Hamilton
NHRA Drag Racing is known for many things, but the success of female race drivers and barrier-breakers in our sport is second to none in motorsports. On Thursday we lost one of the keystones of that legacy, Barbara Hamilton.
NHRA Drag Racing is known for many things, but the success of female race drivers and barrier-breakers in our sport is second to none in motorsports, and yesterday we lost one of the keystones of that legacy, Barbara Hamilton. While other…
Remembering Jack Ditmars
Jack Ditmars, best remembered by fans as the skilled pilot of two wild, short-wheelbased machines, the Lil’ Screamer ’34 Ford and the Mini Brute ’68 Opel Kadett, passed away March 31 and is remembered here by friends.
It was a pretty tough week for drag racing with the losses of three successful and popular drivers from days gone by: female Alcohol Funny Car pioneer…
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,
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…
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!
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-…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
In the Christmas spirit
A look back at some Christmas-inspired Dragster Insider columns from years past.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
"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…
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.
This weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…