NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Twas the days before Christmas ...

Reimagining a Christmas staple, with a little help from the legends.
22 Dec 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor

Note to my readers: I wrote the column below last week, before the passings earlier this week of Don Schumacher and Paula Murphy. Their losses to the sport and what they brought to the sport cannot be understated. I had the pleasure to know and interview both of them over the years — “The Don” obviously much more than Miss STP, whose time in the sport mostly preceded my time behind the keyboard. Two of my favorite articles include them: The fascinating story of the Wonder Bread sponsorship that led to the crazy Vega panel Wonder Wagons and Schumacher’s own wild and swoopy Wonder Wagon Vega coupe, and my first almost accidental meeting with Murphy. Enjoy these great moments with these great legends, and then dive into today’s much lighter material, which I think we can all use after a very rough Thursday for us all.

Tis the season after the season, the time when we go about celebrating our years and filling the empty spots under the non-racing Christmas Tree. For guys like me, the Friday before Christmas means it’s just about time to start the shopping.

I originally was going to write a “naughty and nice” column, but I couldn’t think of enough other people to join Richard Tharp on the naughty list. Oh, well, sure, I could, but the statute hasn’t run out on all of those transgressions. Kidding, of course. (Maybe?)

So, drawing on the ghosts of columns past in 2007 and 2016 , I have reimagined "Twas The Night Before Christmas" with a few of our favorite legends. Enjoy.

'Twas the Friday before Christmas, at the dragstrip so grand,
The Dragster Insider took his keyboard in hand.
The cars were all towed and lined up with care,
In hopes that victory soon would be there.

The racers were suited, helmets on tight,
With visions of burnouts, twas quite a sight.
And Prudhomme in firesuit, and Garlits was too
Muldowney and Ivo, ‘neath the Tree’s bright hue.

When out on the track, there arose such a roar,
50,000 horsepower and maybe much more.
Away to the line, they flew in a flash,
The Dragster Insider captured the clash.

The lights on the strip, cast a steady glow,
As the legends of drag racing put on a show.
Prudhomme and Garlits, Muldowney too,
Ivo's slingshot, twas a sight to view.

With a roar and a thunder, the dragsters they came,
The Dragster Insider called each by name.
"Now Prudhomme! Now Garlits! Muldowney, so quick!
On, Ivo! On, Force, through burnouts so thick.”

The lights on the tree, they twinkled so bright,
As they raced down the strip, with all of their might.
The crowd erupted, cheers filled the air,
Legends of drag racing, a spectacle rare.

They crossed the finish, the win lights they blazed,
The Dragster Insider's tale, the audience craved.
Merry Christmas to all, in the drag racing light,
And to all a high-speed, Insider goodnight!

Here's some bonus Christmas-themed columns, also from a few years back, telling the story of how drag racing's Christmas Tree, which turned 60 this year, came to be: A Christmas (Tree) Story. And, of course, some hardcore racers hated the Tree when it came out (check out the photo here of Cary Cagle taking crowbar to one), and still others found ways to accidentally take down the Tree, as you can see in this column: Chopping down the Christmas Tree.

And, finally, enjoy this holiday letter I wrote a few years back to 10-year-old me, who was about to discover the joys of Hot Wheels and drag racing: A Christmas Letter to My Younger Self.

Thanks for another great year of remembering the way it was, and for all of your interest, support, and contributions.

The Dragster Insider column will return Jan. 5. Happy holidays to all.

Phil Burgess can be reached at pburgess@nhra.com

Hundreds of more articles like this can be found in the DRAGSTER INSIDER COLUMN ARCHIVE

Or try the Random Dragster Insider story generator