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The story of the first Gatornationals Top Fuel win, from the inside

Dave Chenevert was the first Gatornationals Top Fuel winner way back in 1970 and the first of 30 different drivers to win Top Fuel at Gainesville Raceway. Relive that wild weekend from the memory of one of his teenage crewmembers, Fred Mooneyham, himself a future Top Fuel driver.
22 Mar 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Gainesville
With his back-to-back victories at the 2018 and ’19 events, Richie Crampton became the 49th and 50th Top Fuel winners in Gatornationals history, but does anyone remember the first? Former Top Fuel driver Fred Mooneyham does, because he was…
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50 Memorable Moments in Gatornationals history

The Gatornationals, the third oldest event on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule, has a deep and rich heritage that ensures its place in the history books and in the hearts and minds of racers and fans alike. Here's a look back at 50 Memorable Moments from the event’s colorful history.
15 Mar 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Gainesville
The Gatornationals, the third oldest event on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule, has a deep and rich heritage that ensures its place in the history books and in the hearts and minds of racers and fans alike. Added to the national…
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Remembering Ezra Boggs

Ezra Boggs and the Moby Dick Funny Car were match-race mainstays in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and occasional national event competitors. Boggs passed away Feb. 20 and was remembered by friends.
08 Mar 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Ezra Boggs
I always thought that Funny Car Ezra Boggs had one of the coolest names, and his Moby Dick Corvette was (ahem) a whale of a good car, but I never really knew much about him. When I learned of his passing Feb. 20, I set out to rectify that and…
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Gary Densham: 49 seasons and counting

No one has driven a nitro Funny Car longer than Gary Densham, who kicked off his 49th season in Pomona. The lifelong Southern Californian is a regional treasure to those who grew up watching him race his line of Teacher’s Pet floppers at tracks up and down the West Coast.
15 Feb 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Gary Densham
No one has driven a nitro Funny Car longer than Gary Densham, who kicked off his 49th season in Pomona. The lifelong Southern Californian is a regional treasure to those who grew up watching him race his line of Teacher’s Pet floppers at tracks…
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Remembering Ray Alley

The sport lost another friend yesterday with the passing of former Funny Car owner/driver Ray Alley, at age 86 after a lengthy illness. In this special column, drag racing hall of famer Kenny Bernstein remembers Alley, who gave him his first Funny Car ride.
08 Feb 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Ray Alley
The sport lost another friend yesterday with the passing of former Funny Car owner/driver Ray Alley, at age 86 after a lengthy illness. Alley’s was a name that we all knew, whether he helped you with your racecar through his long-running Engine…
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The road to Pomona

The 2019 season kicks off next Friday in Pomona, launching the NHRA season as it has every year since 1961. But how did NHRA end up planting its flag in this suburban wonderland? 
01 Feb 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pomona
The 2019 season kicks off next Friday in Pomona, launching the NHRA season as it has every year since 1961. The Los Angeles County fairgrounds, known today as Fairplex, has become hallowed ground for NHRA race fans over the long and cherished…
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Remembering Frank Rupert

Former Top Fuel and Funny Car racer Frank Rupert passed away Friday, Jan. 4, due to complications after going into cardiac arrest. In this special Insider column, Brad Littlefield shares the history of the respected nitro veteran.
18 Jan 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Frank Rupert
The last few years have born witness to a sad trend for us hardcore fans with the passings of many drivers who we grew up watching and admiring. Last year we lost legend Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen and fan favorites like Jimmy King, versatile…
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50 years ago: The 1969 Winternationals

The 50th annual NHRA Gatornationals is fast approaching, but before we head back east, let's take a trip back in time 50 years to Pomona and the 1969 Winternationals, which was memorable for so many reasons.
11 Jan 2019
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pomona
  The 2019 season is upon us, kicking off in Pomona in about a month with the 50th annual Gatornationals looming as another major early-season highlight. Gainesville 2019 is going to be a wondrous trip back into time that's going to be a…
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1980s Funny Cars

The 1980s was still a time when a guy with a self-funded Funny Car still had a decent shot at winning a national event, though as the decade progressed, that likelihood diminished significantly as quickly as Kenny Bernstein and Dale Armstrong could invent new stuff.
21 Dec 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Funny Car
The 1980s seem so long ago -- much longer than the 30-plus years that have elapsed since then -- especially when it comes to Funny Car racing in the decade, which is the subject of today’s column and the final installment of photos from the Ron…
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Top Fuelers of the 1980s

Let’s continue our journey through the decades with another batch of images from the Ron Lewis collection. Over the past month or so, I’ve shared photos from his five-decade collection covering the 1960s and ‘70s (Top Fuel and Funny Car) and now we’re on to 1980s Top Fuelers.
14 Dec 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Top Fuel
Let’s continue our journey through the decades with another batch of images from the Ron Lewis collection. Over the past month or so, I’ve shared photos from his five-decade collection covering the…
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Remembering Dick LaHaie

Many Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers have gone on to become crew chiefs, but there aren’t a lot of guys who not only won a championship as a driver and crew chief. Dick LaHaie, whom we lost Wednesday, won the crown as a driver then tuned not just one but two drivers to a combined four Top Fuel championships.
07 Dec 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dick LaHaie
A lot of former Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers have gone on to become successful crew chiefs, but there aren’t a lot of guys in NHRA nitro racing’s history who not only won a championship as a driver but then used their mechanical skills to tune…
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Color him gone: Remembering Roger Lindamood

If you were a drag racing fan in the 1960s and 1970s, you knew the Color Me Gone name even if you couldn’t recall the name of its driver, Roger Lindamood, who tore up dragstrips around the country for more than a decade. We lost Lindamood Oct. 14, at the age of 91.
23 Nov 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Funny Car
If you were a drag racing fan in the 1960s and 1970s, you knew the Color Me Gone name even if you couldn’t recall the name of its driver, Roger Lindamood. He made that kind of an impact in his 15-year career on the quarter-mile, from his…
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1970s Funny Cars!

From 1966, the first year of the class, through 1979, there were more than 500 licensed Funny Car drivers competing at NHRA events. Here's a look back at some memorable Funny Car images from the 1970s, as seen through the lens of longtime lensman Ron Lewis.
16 Nov 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Funny Car
As I continue to work my way through the photo library of Ron Lewis, who generously shared with me thousands of images from his five decades of covering drag racing, we arrive at the one I’ve been most looking forward to: 1970s Funny Cars.…
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So Long, Teresa

NHRA National Dragster's long-running Photo Editor Teresa Long retired last week after more than 30 years shooting photos for the NHRA and its award-winning publication. ND Editor Phil Burgess takes a fond look back at the career of one of the sport's beloved and appreciated friends.
09 Nov 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
ND
Whether you’re reading this on your mobile device in the stands while watching the action at Pomona or watching the Auto Club NHRA Finals on television, you might notice the absence of a familiar presence on the starting line. Teresa Long, …
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Top Fuelers of the '70s: The evolution

The Top Fuel class underwent a massive transition in the 1970s, from front-engined cars to rear-engine cars with all manner of aerodynamic additions. Photographer Ron Lewis shared his collection of photos that beautifully illustrate the evolution.
25 Oct 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
Five decades of refinement has brought the design of the modern-day Top Fueler to a knifepoint of precision. Today’s Top Fuel dragsters are mission-proven works of art; you know this because they all basically look and work alike. Oh sure, there are…
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Top Fuelers and Funny Cars of the 1960s

Drag racing photographer Ron Lewis, who’s been shooting at the drags since he was a teenager in the mid-1960s and continues to be a regular presence at Mello Yello Series events, is sharing with us some of the thousands of his vintage drag racing pics. This week: the 1960s.
19 Oct 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Insider
What do you give the drag racing fan/historian/journalist who already has access to tens of thousands of historic drag racing photos? Thousands of more photos, many of them not seen in decades if ever at all! Drag racing photographer Ron Lewis,…
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Another farewell to heroes

Drag racing lost a pair of its early heroes over the last two weeks with the passings of legendary East Coast Top Fuel and Funny Car racer Jimmy King and versatile driver “Jet Car Bob” Smith. 
05 Oct 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Jimmy King
Drag racing lost a pair of its early heroes over the last two weeks with the passings of legendary East Coast Top Fuel and Funny Car racer Jimmy King and versatile driver “Jet Car Bob” Smith.  For more than a decade, King and partner Don…
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Vintage jet cars

Jet cars have been part of the drag racing landscape since the early 1960s, and are still featured at NHRA national events. Here's a look back at some of the earliest and wildest of the breed.
28 Sep 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
jet
Feedback from the last couple of couple of columns focusing on jet-car legend Doug Rose and his protégé, Doug Brown, made it clear to me that there are a lot of residents of the Insider Nation who still dig the jet cars. Not surprising, I suppose,…
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Doug vs. Doug: A jet-powered friendship

The late great jet-dragster racer Doug Rose was not just another driver lined up next to West Coast jet jockey Doug Brown, he was a friend and mentor, as Brown explains in this illuminating and entertaining tribute.
14 Sep 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Doug Rose
Everyone in life should be so lucky to have a mentor, someone who’s been there and done that in your chosen field and is there to help not only show you the ropes, but to inspire you and keep you moving in the right direction. Doug Rose, the…
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Remembering Doug Rose

The drag racing world lost a master entertainer and jet-car legend a few weeks ago when Doug Rose, whose Green Mamba jet had entertained fans for more than 50 years, passed away. We salute him this week in words and photos.
07 Sep 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Doug Rose
The drag racing world lost a master entertainer and jet-car legend a few weeks ago when Doug Rose, whose Green Mamba jet had entertained fans for more than 50 years, lost his life during an exhibition at Norway Speedway, a third-mile dirt oval in…
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50 Years of Wally trophies

This weekend’s 64th running of the 2018 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will also mark perhaps an even more important milestone as it will be the 50th anniversary of the first presentation of the now-iconic Wally winner’s trophy.
31 Aug 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Wally
This weekend’s 64th running of the 2018 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will also mark perhaps an even more important milestone as it will be the 50th anniversary of the first presentation of the now-iconic Wally winner’s trophy. NHRA…
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Brainerd: Celebrating 50 years of racing

Brainerd Int’l Raceway, built in 1968 and host last weekend to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, is celebrating its 50th season this year. Here's a look back at the track and the racing action over the years.
24 Aug 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Brainerd
The NHRA Mello Yello tour pulled out of Brainerd this past weekend and headed for Indy and the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, but before we put the Land of 10,000 Lakes in the rearview, I wanted to take the opportunity to wish Brainerd Int’l…
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The Time Machine: 1973

Step into the Wayback Machine and set the dials to 1973, when nine of the 16 nitro winners were first-time winners, three new world champs were crowned, and policies and procedures from records to safety were overhauled.
17 Aug 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1973
Frequent Insider contributor John Bell cut the best light in reaction to my invitation on last Friday’s second installment of the Time Machine series, asking for a recap of 1973, the first year that he became an NHRA member and subscriber to …
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The Time Machine: 1982

Shirley Muldowney, Frank Hawley, and Lee Shepherd won world championships in a year packed with new rules, first-time winners, and outrageous performances. Just hop into our Wayback Machine for a trip back to 1982.
10 Aug 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1982
After a busy Western Swing (sorry for skipping a few columns), I’m back in the saddle for the run up to Indy and beyond, so let’s get this party started. Folks got a big kick out of the…
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Fans remember 'the Mongoose'

Over the past month, you’ve heard from Tom McEwen’s closest friends about what the fabled “Mongoose” meant to them. This week, we share some thoughts and memories from his fans, who were touched by him in myriad ways.
27 Jul 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Tom McEwen
Over the past month, you’ve heard so much from me and from Tom McEwen’s closest friends about what the fabled “Mongoose” meant to us, but, as you can imagine, my Inbox was overflowing with thoughts and memories from his fans, so I thought I’d share…
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A fond farewell to 'the Mongoose'

The celebration of life for Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen in Pomona last weekend featured a Who's Who of drag racing as the community came together to remember one of the great icons of the sport.
20 Jul 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Tom McEwen
The celebration of life of Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen last Saturday in Pomona provided a lot of closure for his friends in the racing community. It was chance to not only remember one of our great friends but, for many, the chance to do it together,…
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The Time Machine: 1988

Thirty years ago this season, direct-drive came back to the nitro classes, supercharger burst panels were mandated, the speed trap was cut in half, Sonoma and Houston entered the schedule, Bruce Larson finally won, and much more.
05 Jul 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1988
The old hippie saying “Never trust anybody over 30” was attributed in 1964 to environmental activist Jack Weinberg (who today is 78) in an article about the Free Speech Movement that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle. I bring up this bit…
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Tom McEwen, in his own words

One final nod to the great "Mongoose," from a National Dragster interview a few years ago where he opines on everything from his "legend" status to his rivalry with Don Prudhomme, his favorite cars, and his legacy in the sport.
29 Jun 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Tom McEwen
In mourning the passing of Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen, I mentioned I couple of weeks ago the last official interview I did with him for National Dragster, which took place several years ago, and that I should share it someday, and many of…
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More 'Mongoose' memories

Week two of “the Mongoose” watch goes on as fans and friends continue to try to reconcile that he’s really gone. This week: No race cars, just photos of “the Mongoose” smiling and doing his thing.
22 Jun 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Tom McEwen
Week two of “the Mongoose” watch goes on as fans and friends continue to try to reconcile that he’s really gone. It’s been interesting to watch and listen to the reactions of his close racing buddies. They’ve been checking in on one another and…
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Remembering "the Mongoose"

Some of his best racing friends remember Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen in a touching and funny retrospect to one of the most popular drivers in the sport's history.
15 Jun 2018
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Tom McEwen
Stunned. Crushed. Heartbroken. Really, really sad. Teary-eyed. Despondent. Those are pretty much my first six stages of grieving over just the two hours after I got the call Monday morning that we’d lost “the Mongoose.”  I know I’m not…
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