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The final showdown: 'Jungle' vs. Force

“Jungle Jim” or “Brute Force”? Nostalgic hero or modern-day legend? Vega or Firebird? Those are the questions that will be answered this weekend in Pomona when NHRA unveils the car atop the list of its yearlong fan vote among the top 20 Funny Cars of all time.
11 Nov 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
“Jungle Jim” or “Brute Force”? Nostalgic hero or modern-day legend? Vega or Firebird? Those are the questions that will be answered this weekend in Pomona when NHRA unveils the car atop the list of its yearlong fan vote…
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Funny Car Breakfast of Champions

04 Nov 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
NHRA’s annual SEMA Breakfast Wednesday saluted the yearlong 50 Years of Funny Car celebration and was the site of the official reveal of the top two cars in the yearlong fan-voted Top 20 Funny Cars list, though most people already knew that the…
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The top three: Liberman

28 Oct 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
With the big reveal coming this weekend on which of the three finalists in the Top 20 Funny Cars list will make the final pairing, it’s time to take a look at the third car on the list: “Jungle Jim” Liberman’s 1973 Vega Funny Car. The Vega —…
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The top three: Force

21 Oct 2016
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Continuing my review of the three cars and drivers remaining in the Top 20 Funny Cars polls, we move from Dale Pulde’s ’77 War Eagle Pontiac to John Force’s ’96 Castrol Firebird. Again, don’t read anything into me putting…
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The top three: Pulde

14 Oct 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
With the Top 20 Funny Cars list whittled down to just three – “Jungle Jim” Liberman’s '73 Vega, Dale Pulde’s '77 War Eagle Trans Am, and John Force’s '96 Castrol Firebird -- and the top two not to be announced for…
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The top three

07 Oct 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Last Sunday’s reveal of Don Prudhomme’s '75 Army Monza as the No. 4 Funny Car on the Top 20 fan-vote list whittles our list down to just three entries, with the No. 3 spot scheduled to be revealed Sunday of the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas…
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Key players from the Keystone State

30 Sep 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Another week on the road, and another “retro” column from the Phil Burgess Archives to tide you over. When this column is published, I’ll be in Reading for the Dodge NHRA Nationals (Keystone Nationals for all you old-timers), and…
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Missouri's finest fuelers

23 Sep 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads this weekend to Gateway Motorsports Park, almost in the shadow of the famed Gateway Arch that is the symbol of St Louis. Although the racetrack actually is in Madison, Ill., NHRA markets the event…
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Frank Oglesby and the Mello Yello Mustang

16 Sep 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Fans at the recent Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals got to witness a special moment that hasn’t been seen on the dragstrip for almost 30 years: a Funny Car flying the colors of Mello Yello soft drink, the title sponsor of NHRA’s biggest and…
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A 'fiberglass forest' in Indy

09 Sep 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
It was only appropriate during this yearlong celebration of 50 Years of Funny Car that the world’s biggest and greatest drag race host the best display of vintage Funny Cars this season, and so it was that at the Chevrolet Performance U.S…
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Indy's Funny Car heroes

02 Sep 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is such a huge and historic event that winning the prestigious race even once can make a driver’s career, but throughout the years, a number of nitro-fueled drivers have tasted the fruits of Indy…
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My Favorite Fuelers: Ed McCulloch

26 Aug 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Due to some unforeseen circumstances and the rapidly approaching Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the ol’ Insider is going to take a brief hiatus on original material. I don’t want to leave you high and dry, so I’m going to share here some…
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Buster Couch: Tales from the starting line

19 Aug 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Last Thursday, on the eve of the national event at his old home track, former NHRA Chief Starter Mark Lyle was remembered by family, friends,…
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More Seattle 64 Funny Cars stories

12 Aug 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
I’m back from an incredible weekend in Seattle, where, appropriately, after last week’s column about the track’s legendary 64 Funny Cars events, the floppers were the star of the show with nine of the quickest times in history, national record-…
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Seattle 64 Funny Cars, 1976

05 Aug 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
By the time that most of you read this, I’ll be at Pacific Raceways covering the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event at the track formerly known as Seattle Int’l Raceway, which is perfect timing for this week’s subject (I love it…
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More Setzer, plus a Top 20 Funny Cars recap

29 Jul 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
“Finally, a full load of the Setzer/Foster/Buttera/Pink Vega straight into my veins!” enthused Insider reader Paul Nadeau after last week’s column in which we, the drag racing fandom, finally heard Barry Setzer share his memories of his two…
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Barry Setzer, Pat Foster, and their amazing Vega

22 Jul 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Top 20 Funny Cars list rolls on, headed soon for the top 10, and although there were no assurances of anyone’s position -- due in no small part to the strength of “the field,” each having earned a berth based on the sheer weight of evidence…
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Remembering Art Chrisman and Chuck Etchells

15 Jul 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Chuck Etchells The last week provided a double shock of loss, with the passing of Funny Car barrier breaker Chuck Etchells Wednesday, July 6, and the loss of drag racing icon Art Chrisman the following Tuesday. The loss of Etchells…
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Fan Fotos: The Nielsen Files, Part 2

08 Jul 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
I hope you all had a safe and sane Fourth of July and are ready to dive into the teeth of summer. I'll be in Chicago this weekend for the K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals at fabulous Route 66 Raceway.  While I'm…
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Fan Fotos: The Nielsen Files

01 Jul 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
 If you’ve been around this column for any length of time, you know there’s no measuring the depth of love and respect I have for followers of this weekly cornucopia of drag racing stream of consciousness. And you probably also know…
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Deconstructing the vote: 14-17

24 Jun 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Another month in the books, and another four cars have been revealed in the Top 20 Funny Car fan vote, with another coming Saturday, which will bring us up to No. 12.   Here’s what has been revealed so far:   14. Ed McCulloch…
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A Kean memory

17 Jun 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Response to last week’s column full o’ photos was deliciously marvelous, with lots of my pals here digging my amateurish attempts because, after all, even a bad photo of a great Funny Car is worth seeing, right? As I’ve said…
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More of Phil's Foto Follies

10 Jun 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Ask someone if they want to see your old family photos, and they’ll probably come up with an excuse to go do something less painful; root canal comes to mind. But ask any drag racing fan if he or she would like to look at your old drag racing…
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New England Funny Cars

03 Jun 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour heads back to New England this weekend, the 2016 season is about to get real busy with four races in as many weekends, keeping us all on the fly, so to speak, traversing the East Coast and…
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Kirby's Funny Car 'supermarket'

27 May 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
For the past five months, we’ve been talking almost exclusively about Funny Cars here – I know, #FirstWorldProblems, right? – so I thought I’d take a look back at a place that was responsible for many of them, Don Kirby’s Funny Car “supermarket…
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Deconstructing the vote: 18-20

20 May 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
I hope you all saw the reveal last Sunday on NHRA.com (or Saturday on the FOX show) of our Top 20 Funny Cars catch-up. We unveiled Nos. 18 to 20 to catch up to Tony Pedregon’s separate list that he began a few weeks ago, and I thought it would…
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Top 20 FCs: The Insider Nation weighs in

13 May 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Thanks to everyone for voting in my little straw poll last week to get the Insider Nation’s take on the Top 20 Funny Cars list. For the most part, your voting aligned pretty closely with the overall voting – you both picked the same car…
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Your Top 20 poll

06 May 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Fan voting ended earlier this week in the Top 20 Funny Cars poll, and we’ll begin to reveal the results in the very near future. It has been a fun exercise, especially the creation of the list and everything that went into it, as well as hearing…
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Al Segrini

29 Apr 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
By their very nature, lists are polarizing. Whether it’s the top 10, 20, 50, or 100 anything that you’re trying to establish, there are going to be hits and misses among the critics and delight and disappointment among those who made…
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The Mystery of the Blue Mustang

22 Apr 2016
Phil Burgess, National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Last week’s video collection of vintage Funny Car clips was met with glee by the Insider faithful, what with all of the vintage fiberglass and dry hops, but it was the clip of the Mickey Thompson/Danny Ongais Mustang that drew the most oohs and…
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