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Remembering Zim

Legendary NHRA Division 5 Director Darrell Zimmerman plied his trade in the Rocky Mountain region for more than 30 years. A successful racer, 'Zim' joined the NHRA team in the late 1950s and carved a legendary career and made legions of friends throughout the sport.
31 Jul 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Darrell Zimmerman
  NHRA founder Wally Parks deservedly gets a lot of credit for organizing the sport of hot rodding in general and drag racing in specific, he was always the first one to tell you he certainly didn’t do it by himself. And because much of…
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The history of the Summernationals

When NHRA staged the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals last weekend in Indy, it resurrected one of the most storied event names in NHRA history. Here's a look back at the 50-year history of the NHRA Summernationals name.
24 Jul 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Summernationals
Two events into NHRA’s monumental Return To Racing during the COVID-19 pandemic, a rebirth that continued with last weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Summerationals in Indy, I’m reminded of the longstanding Summernationals-related pun that was already…
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The Kuhl one

Drag racing lost another of its great figures last week with the passing of former Top Fuel owner, crew chief, and engine builder Mike Kuhl, who is remembered in this column by the two people closest to him, his former driver/partner Carl Olson and his soulmate Lynn Rose.
03 Jul 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Mike Kuhl
When I was a teenager, like a lot of boys that age, I was assembling plastic kit models -- getting airplane glue everywhere and learning just how sharp an Xacto knife was (four stitches!). I…
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Fan Fotos: A Texas-sized collection from three decades of photo greatness

David Graves has been shooting photos in Texas and the surrounding states for decades and shared with us a collection of some of his great Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Sportsman-racing images.
19 Jun 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Fan Fotos
Drag racing is a multi-generational sport across many platforms, with kids and grandkids following their elders not only behind the wheel on the dragstrip or twirling the wrenches in the pits but into the grandstands but behind the camera lens…
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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.
12 Jun 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
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…
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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.
30 May 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Roller starter
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…
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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.
22 May 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Mario Andretti
  A couple of weeks ago on NHRA.com, I put together a goofy little story about Mario Andretti and his connection with drag…
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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.
16 May 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Insider
  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…
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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.
01 May 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Jim Edmunds
  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…
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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.
24 Apr 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
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…
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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.
10 Apr 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
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…
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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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