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Charging into Funny Car history

Don Schumacher Racing’s Dodge Charger Funny Cars swept all 11 races last season, but the Charger is certainly not a new body style to the class, having been around since the class’ mid-1960s creation. Here's a look back at some of them.
22 Jan 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dodge Charger
Don Schumacher Racing’s Dodge Charger Funny Cars swept all 11 races last season plus three to end the 2019 season, giving them a stretch of 14 wins on top of five world championships over the last 10 seasons, but the Charger is certainly not a new…
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Random Racer Roundup

Challenged to cite a random drag racer from their memory banks, dozens of NHRA fans responded to share their thoughts abut racers past and present whose accomplishments resonate with them.
08 Jan 2021
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
The tweets that became a viral thread that launched a Dragster Insider column that spawned a follow-up now has an offspring. Challenged by yours truly to cite a random drag racer from your memory banks, dozens of you responded to share your picks…
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Passings of original NHRA DD Darwin Doll, car owner Dale Creasy Sr. add to 2020 toll

Darwin Doll, one of NHRA’s original division directors who oversaw the Northeast Division from 1964-78, and longtime nitro Funny Car owner Dale Creasy Sr. both passed away recently, adding to a year of tremendous losses within the sport. We salute them all one final time.
30 Dec 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
2020 losses
Darwin Doll, one of NHRA’s original division directors who oversaw the Northeast Division from 1964-78, and longtime nitro Funny Car owner Dale Creasy Sr. both passed away recently, adding to a year of tremendous losses within the sport. We salute…
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89 questions about Chris “the Greek” Karamesines (or should there be 92?)

Drag racing's legendary "Greek," Chris Karamesines, ended his driving career at the close of the 2020 season at age 89. Or is it 92? There are so many questions. After all, when your drag racing career spans 67 years (61 of them in Top Fuel), there’s a lot of room for questions we'll try to answer.
24 Dec 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Chris Karamesines
When it comes to the life and times of Chris Karamesines, there will always be some things you can debate. His age. Whether or not he made the first 200-mph quarter-mile pass. How much gold plating really was on his famed Top Fueler. After all,…
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50 years, 10 manufacturers, 84 body styles: A guide to Pro Stock diversity

Although it’s pretty clear that the Chevrolet Camaro has become the body style of choice in Pro Stock over the last decade, it certainly wasn’t always the case. Here's a look back at the variety that has made the class a fan favorite for 50 years.
18 Dec 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pro Stock
The 2020 season was supposed to be a yearlong salute to the Pro Stock class, which was celebrating its 50th year of competition. All sorts of special promotions for fans were planned, as were television, web, and print features across NHRA…
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Yuichi Oyama. Who? Japanese Top Fuel racer made waves, scored upsets in 2002

Not many people (well, only one, actually) can say they caused Top Fuel legend Don Garlits to not qualify at the U.S. Nationals, upset Kenny Bernstein in the last race of his "Forever Red" retirement tour, and was the first Japanese national in an NHRA Top Fuel final. That guy was Yuichi Oyama.
11 Dec 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Yuichi Oyama
  Last week’s “Name a random racer” column drew an avalanche of emails that will be fodder for a feature column, but, as promised, this week I’m talking about my…
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Name a random NHRA racer ... go

Challenged on Twitter to pick a random NHRA driver, fans responded with a wide-ranging and impressive list of their favorites. Now you get your chance, too.
04 Dec 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
NHRA
Fandom is such a unique thing. What attracts one person to a specific celebrity or athlete varies differently from what others may think. Some people become fans based on accomplishments, others on intangibles like work ethics, personality, and…
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1971: Garlits goes 'Big,' Funnies go 220, Sox goes wild, and NHRA goes to Canada

As NHRA prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2021, here's a look back 50 seasons ago, when Don Garlits introduced the first successful rear-engine Top Fueler, Funny Car performance zoomed out of sight, Ronnie Sox won six of eight Pro Stock events but not the world championship, and NHRA went to Canada.
27 Nov 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1971
As I mentioned in this space last week, NHRA is preparing for its 70th-anniversary celebration next year, a chance to reflect and remember all of the great racers and great moments that helped get us where we are today. As you can imagine, this…
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Welcome back, and welcome to my great drag racing debates

After a six-week hiatus, the Dragster Insider column returns with a couple of burning debates from NHRA history.
20 Nov 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Debate
Annnnnnd … we’re back. Back when I was doing this column two to three times a week, Jr. Fuel hero Jimmy Ige once kindly admonished me to not worry about apologizing if I missed a column here or there, but, criminy, it’s been…
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Exclusive book excerpt: Don “the Snake” Prudhomme: My Life Beyond the 1320

Our recent review of the new autobiography, Don “the Snake” Prudhomme: My Life Beyond the 1320, stoked so much interest that Prudhomme and his publisher, CarTech, have provided National Dragster with an exclusive excerpt from the book for his fans to enjoy.
09 Oct 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Prudhomme
My review of the new autobiography, Don “the Snake” Prudhomme: My Life Beyond the 1320, a few weeks ago here stoked a ton of interest…
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Swamp Rat 14 rides again; the history of one of Top Fuel's most important cars

Steve Torrence won the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in a Don Garlits tribute car modeled after Garlits' famed Swamp Rat 14, one of the most important cars in Top Fuel history. Here's the story behind the success of Garlits' original SR14.
02 Oct 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Garlits
Even from 2,000 miles away, I could feel the electricity in the air when Steve Torrence made his first burnout in his Don Garlits Swamp Rat 14 tribute car at last weekend's Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. I was on the couch in Glendora,…
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Everything you always wanted to know about 'Snake' (but were afraid to ask)

NHRA Drag Racing legend Don Prudhomme's new book is a great book for “Snake” fans, especially those wanting to know as much about the man as his machines. It's packed with great photos and eye-opening personal background and racing anecdotes from his amazing career in the sport.
24 Sep 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Prudhomme
  I’m not going to lie. I consider myself one of the foremost experts on the life and times of Don “the Snake” Prudhomme. It’s a depth of knowledge honed from years of fandom and work products — memorizing stats, cars, places, and things…
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Dave Miller: Diamond in the rough

"Diamond Dave" Miller made a ton of NHRA fans in the early 1980s when he unveiled a 200-inch wheelbase Top Fueler when everyone else was in the 260-inch range. The popular driver passed away recently and is remembered here for his perseverance and passion.
18 Sep 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Insider
Innovation and experimentation were early hallmarks of drag racing competition, with cars like Lloyd’s Scott Bustle Bomb, the Allison-powered Green Monsters, Jack Chrisman’s sidewinder, and Mickey Thompson’s Panorama Special streamliner showing that…
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Quiz: Drag racing's hometown heroes

Drag racers come from all across this wonderful land, but how well do you know some of the famous hometowns and their hot-rodding residents? Take the quiz and find out!
11 Sep 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Hometowns
The weekend before the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals, I was heading home from a responsibly-distanced family get-together at the beach (try to muzzle your jealously), driving across Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, which was…
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Reliving the U.S. Nationals Top Fuel final that no one will ever forget

Even 50 years later, it remains among the most dramatic and poignant footage ever recorded at an NHRA national event. The 1970 U.S. Nationals Top Fuel final, Don Prudhomme vs. Jim Nicoll. Nicoll’s clutch explodes at the finish line, cutting his front-engine dragster in two at his feet.
29 Aug 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Prudhomme
Even 50 years later, it remains among the most dramatic and poignant footage ever recorded at an NHRA national event. The 1970 U.S. Nationals Top Fuel final, Don Prudhomme vs. Jim Nicoll. Nicoll’s clutch explodes at the finish line, cutting his…
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Tony Schumacher: Indy Top Fuel dominator

Tony Schumacher has won Top Fuel at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals a class-record 10 times and has his sights set on tying the event's all-time record at this year's event. Here's a look back at his "Big Go" history, with insight from the man himself.
21 Aug 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Tony Schumacher
For most of us who grew up as drag racing fans in the 1960s and early ‘70s, Don Garlits was Top Fuel, and when it came specifically to Top Fuel at Indy, there was no doubt that “Big Daddy” was The Man. He won the event in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1975, and…
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Remembering Fuel Altered pioneer Leon Fitzgerald, Pro Stock's Sonny Bryant

Drag racing lost two more of its early pioneers this week with the passing of Fuel Altered racer Leon Fitzgerald and Pro Stock racer and crankshaft manufacturer Sonny Bryant.
14 Aug 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Insider
Drag racing lost two more of its early pioneers this week with the passing of Fuel Altered racer Leon Fitzgerald and Pro Stock racer and crankshaft manufacturer Sonny Bryant. Fitzgerald died early last week from an unreported cause while Bryant…
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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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