NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Dave Schultz vs. Gaige Herrera, a tale of two winning streaks

In 1994, Dave Schultz set a record with eight-straight Pro Stock Motorcycle race wins and 30 years later, Gaige Herrera has broken it. Here's a look at how the two win streaks stack up against each other.
12 Jun 2024
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Gaige and Schultz

Records are made to be broken but not many people ever thought this one would be.

With his most recent win at the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Gaige Herrera claimed his ninth straight, Pro Stock Motorcycle title, breaking Dave Schultz’s longstanding record of eight wins from the 1994 season. In the process, Herrera also won his 35th straight round. Schultz won 34 during his win streak while Pro Stock ace Bob Glidden also won 35 during the most dominant time in his career.

Well aware of the historical significance of his most recent achievement, Herrera shared his thoughts during his post-race appearance in the Bristol Media Center.

“To be mentioned with Dave Schultz and Bob Glidden, it's a lot to take in. It's obviously real, but it doesn't feel real, what's been accomplished in such a small time,” Herrera said. “I'm enjoying the ride and trying to look at every little milestone that passes. As a kid, I never would have thought I would be in this position or have my name in the history books. It gets emotional sometimes when I think about it.”

It’s a bit difficult to take the each winning streak at face value, since Schultz and Herrera competed in two entirely different eras. It’s difficult to say which accomplishment is more impressive, but it’s also worth taking a closer look at both win streaks in order to gain some perspective.

For Schultz, the drama began at the start of the 1993 season in Houston where he crashed in qualifying and suffered a broken wrist. A pre-season favorite to win the championship, Schultz was a no show for round one. It took a few races, but Schultz ultimately returned to form, riding his Sunoco Suzuki to wins in Denver, Brainerd, Indy, Reading, Topeka, and Pomona to finish the season. In 1994, Schultz added a win at the Houston opener, winning his seventh-straight race.

Schult lost in the semifinals in Gainesville in 1994 when he fouled against John Myers, ending his streak at seven events. From that point forward, he was nearly untouchable, winning the next eight events on his way to the 1994 season championship. Schultz won in Atlanta, Englishtown, Columbus, Denver, Brainerd, Indy, Reading, Topeka, and Pomona to re-set his own mark.

Incredibly, Schultz won 15 of 16 races during that two-year span. His dominance was so pronounced that his competitors dubbed him the “Milkman” due to both his all-white leathers, and his ability to deliver. During the win streak, Schultz’s competitors came up with a bounty program, stuffing a milk carton with $20 bills at each event with the proceeds ultimately going to the first rider to beat him. That turned out to be Jim Bernard, who ended the streak at 34 rounds when Schultz fouled in the semifinals at the NHRA Finals in 1994.

For much of his career, Schultz’s main rival was Star Racing’s John Myers, who won 33 races and three championships during his all-too-brief career. Myers has long been considered one of the most naturally gifted riders in the class, yet he was virtually powerless against Schultz during the ’94 season. During his eight race win streak, Schultz received just three red-light starts from his opponents and recorded zero holeshot wins, simply because he almost always went to the starting line with the quicker motorcycle.

Fast forward to the 2023 and 2024 seasons and Herrera’s win streak, which now stands at nine races and 35 rounds, looks a lot like Schultz’s.

After joining the RevZilla/Vance & Hines team at the start of 2023, Herrera has gone on to win 11 of 15 races and he cruised to his first world title last season. In 2023, Herrera lost in the second round in Reading to Jianna Evaristo, and then didn’t lost another race for the rest of the season, claiming wins in Charlotte, St. Louis, Dallas, Las Vegas and Pomona. So far in 2024, Herrera has won the first four events in Gainesville, Charlotte, Chicago, and Bristol bringing his current total to nine events and 35 rounds.  

So far, Herrera has had seven red-lights against him during his streak, including the Charlotte 4-Wide race, and he’s got a single holeshot win, beating archrival Matt Smith in Bristol, 6.825 to 6.824.

Ironically, nothing lasts forever, especially in the unpredictable world of NHRA championship drag racing. During his most dominant phase, it appeared that Schultz might never lose another round and indeed, he went on to win 11 more events after his 1994 win streak ended and remained competitive until the cancer diagnosis that ultimately cost him his life in 2000. Drag racing is cyclical, especially in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class and when Matt Hines and Angelle Sampey arrived in 1996, the landscape changed quickly, ending a decade of near-total domination by Schultz and John Myers, who passed away in 1988 from injuries suffered in a highway accident.  

As for Herrera, there is no telling when his current win streak will end, but there are already some signs that it could be sooner rather than later. For one, Herrera qualified No. 5 in Bristol after previously landing in the top spot in Gainesville and Charlotte and qualifying No. 2 in Chicago. Herrera didn’t appear to gain his footing on the freshly-repaved Bristol track surface until late Sunday and he needed a holeshot to beat Matt Smith in the semifinals.

It's worth noting the class veteran Steve Johnson was involved in both win streaks. Gary Tonglet was one of Schultz's victims while his son, LE, has gone 0-2 against Herrera. Rickey Gadson also lost a race to Schultz while his nephew, Richard, is now Herrera's teammate, and is currently 0-1 against Herrera.

Dave Schultz Opponents (1994 win streak)
John Smith               6-0
John Myers              5-0
Jim Bernard             4-0
Michael Phillips       2-0
Rick Ward                 2-0
Gary Tonglet            2-0
Paul Gast                  2-0
Norman DeVine       1-0
Rickey Gadson         1-0
Wil Johnese               1-0
Nigel Patrick             1-0
Paul Zahalan            1-0
Steve Johnson          1-0
John Mafaro             1-0
Jamie Hochbaum     1-0    
Tony Girardi              1-0
Keith Freeman          1-0
Rob Short                  1-0
TOTAL                         34-0

Gaige Herrera Opponents (2023-24 win streak)
Eddie Krawiec           4-0
John Hall                    4-0
Chase Van Sant         4-0
Matt Smith                 3-0
Angie Smith               3-0
Jerry Savoie                2-0
Hector Arana Jr.        2-0
Joey Gladstone          2-0
LE Tonglet                  2-0
Steve Johnson           2-0
BYE                              1-0
Blaine Hale                 1-0
Chris Bostick              1-0
Marc Ingwersen        1-0
Wes Wells                   1-0
Richard Gadson        1-0
Jianna Evaristo           1-0
TOTAL                          35-0