NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

BUY TICKETS

Florida's first NHRA 'national event' was the Winter Nationals? Yep (sorta)

Ten years before the Gatornationals brought NHRA national event racing to Florida, NHRA partnered with NASCAR to create a test event, dubbed "the Winter Nationals," during NASCAR Speedweek in Daytona in 1960.
01 Mar 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Winter Nationals
Any hardcore NHRA Drag Racing fan can probably tell you that NHRA debuted the famed Winternationals name in 1961 in Pomona, Calif., and the equally historic Gatornationals came to Gainesville, Fla., in 1970, but what fewer may know is that the…
View More

Fifty years ago, Pro-class stars were also being made at divisional events

Fifty years ago, there were only seven national events on the schedule, but fans across the country saw great action on the divisional level where Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock competed at 28 additional events. Here’s a look back at some of those 1974 heroes.
23 Feb 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1974
When you look back 50 years ago at the 1974 national event schedule, as we did here a few weeks ago, there were just seven events on the calendar, a far…
View More

Gainesville Raceway through the years

Three weeks from now we’ll be at Gainesville Raceway for the kickoff of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series as we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the famed Gatornationals. Here’s a look back at the ever-changing face of Gainesville Raceway over the years.
16 Feb 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Gainesville Raceway
Three weeks from now we’ll be at Gainesville Raceway for the kickoff of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series as we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the famed Gatornationals. Gainesville has been hosting the event since its…
View More

‘Have helmet will travel’: The story of versatile wheelman Gary Southern

Gary Southern, who will be posthumously inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame next month, could drive anything. In a racing career that spanned nearly 30 years, he drove what he estimated was more than 70 cars in many of the sport's top classes.
09 Feb 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Gary Southern
Next month, Don Garlits’ International Drag Racing Hall of Fame will induct its newest members, and sadly, two of them who were alive when they were notified of their honors won’t be there to accept them. One is Walt Austin, who was to be…
View More

50 years ago: A look back at the highlights from the 1974 NHRA season

Step into the Dragster Insider Wayback Machine, set the dials for 50 years ago, and return to the 1974 NHRA season for a look back at how things were, including the schedule, performance markers, and big moments on and off the track.
31 Jan 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
1974 NHRA season
As I’ve done the last three years, it’s time once again to step into the Dragster Insider Wayback Machine and set the dials for 50 years ago and a return to the 1974 NHRA season. Once again, I’ll take a look back at the way things were, including…
View More

A fond farewell to Parks Tower

With the recent demolition of the famed Parks Tower at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, the NHRA U.S. Nationals lost a part of a four-decade landscape, but the memories will remain.
19 Jan 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
A fond farewell to Parks Tower
Imagine driving onto the block where you grew up and discovering that the house in which you grew up was gone. That’s going to be a bit of the feeling for me when I pull into Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park later this year and see the Parks…
View More

The big book of drivers who wheeled Roland Leong’s Hawaiian entries

Over the course of a long career as an NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car team owner, Roland Leong was one of the sport’s most successful car owners, but he also hired, fired, replaced, or lost more than 20 drivers over that span. Here's the stories behind each.
12 Jan 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The big book of drivers who wheeled Roland Leong’s Hawaiian entries
As you've read from me the last couple of weeks, and from tributes I've posted from some of the stars of our sport, there's no way to over-report on the importance of Roland Leong…
View More

A final 'aloha' to 'the Hawaiian'

We lost Roland Leong, the irrepressible owner of the “Hawaiian” line of Top Fuelers and Funny Cars, last week, and his friends, former drivers, and more shared their thoughts about the man and their experiences with him.
05 Jan 2024
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Roland Leong
Roland Leong, the irrepressible owner of the “Hawaiian” line of Top Fuelers and Funny Cars, was a part of our drag racing world for seven decades before his passing just after Christmas, and if you were a fan of any kind of racing in that span,…
View More

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
DRAGSTER Insider
Mxas
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…
View More

An ode to the front-engined Top Fueler, and to the family ties that bind us

The front-engined Top Fuel dragster is such an iconic piece of drag racing lore and still romanticized by those who drove them and continue to drive them, and a way to never forget our past.
15 Dec 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
An ode to the front-engined Top Fueler
The book landed on my desk with a giant thunk, the kind of thunk that nearly 700 pages of book makes. Racing Through Life, the Autobiography of Carl V. Olson. There, grinning at me from the cover, was a young but instantly…
View More

The 10: Don Prudhomme

The second installment of a new feature, chronicling the 10 greatest career moments of some of NHRA's greatest racers. This week, it's legendary Top Fuel/Funny Car owner/driver Don "the Snake" Prudhomme.
01 Dec 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Prudhomme
Last week I compared some of the great individual seasons in NHRA’s recent history with the 1976 season of Don “the Snake”…
View More

Comparing great seasons: Force vs. Anderson vs. Schumacher vs. Herrera vs. 'Snake'

Gaige Herrera's championship-winning season in Pro Stock Motorcycle was the best in class history, but how does it stack up against the other by-class greats, including Don Prudhomme's amazing 1976 Funny Car season? Let's find out.
24 Nov 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Great seasons
  Newly crowned Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Gaige Herrera had a season for the ages, scoring 11 times in 15 events to set a new class record and also set another record for most No. 1 qualifying efforts (14 of 15) that will go in the…
View More

A look back at some thrilling winner-take-all championship-winning final rounds

Just five times in NHRA Professional-class racing has the final round of the season finale been a winner-take-all for the championship, including Top Fuel at last weekend's In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals. Here's a look back at those five nailbiters.
17 Nov 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Winner-take-all championship-winning final rounds
Drag racing, by its very nature, is a series of single-elimination contests. Win and move on to the next round; lose and go home. But what about when there is no next round, when the final round is the final round of the season, and the two…
View More

A tale of two Walts

When it comes to famous Walts in the world, movie lovers have Walt Disney, bookworms have Walt Whitman, and basketball fans have Walt Frazier. Drag racing recently lost two of its favorite Walts, Walt Austin and Walt Stevens, within a month over September and October.
03 Nov 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
A tale of two Walts
When it comes to famous Walts in the world, movie lovers have Walt Disney, bookworms have Walt Whitman, and basketball fans have Walt Frazier. Drag racing recently lost two of its favorite Walts, Walt Austin and Walt Stevens, within a month over…
View More

Blast From the Past: More fire burnouts

If the volume of email is any indicator, fire burnouts, which were made illegal decades ago, are still very much a hot topic among race fans of yore who witnessed the planned pyrotechnics on dragstrips across the nation. 
20 Oct 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
More fire burnouts
If the volume of email is any indicator, fire burnouts are still very much a hot topic among race fans of yore who witnessed the planned pyrotechnics on dragstrips across the nation.  Following up on my…
View More

Flaming hot magazine covers, cooked to order, sometimes overcooked

And as long as there have been photographers submitting photos to publications, they’re all in pursuit of the Holy Grail known as the elusive “cover shot," and for drag racing magazines, that meant a fire burnout (back when they were still legal). Here's the story of one that went amusingly wrong.
06 Oct 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Mike Kuhl
As long as there have been drag racing magazines, there have been photographers itching to illustrate their pages with the photos of far-away dragstrips you may never visit and cars that you may never see at your local track doing things that you…
View More

500 races and counting: A short history of NHRA's Pro Stock Motorcycle class

The Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals marked the 500th Pro Stock Motorcycle race of the modern era, which began in 1987 with the crowning of the first world champion, Dave Schultz. Here's a quick history of the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle class from 1987 to present.
26 Sep 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Pro Stock Motorcycle
The Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals marked the 500th Pro Stock Motorcycle race of the modern era, which began in 1987 with the crowning of the first world champion, Dave Schultz.  (Prior to 1986, the class was contested only sporadically,…
View More

It was just another case of Indy magic, courtesy of Ron Capps and 'the Snake'

Ron Capps' Funny Car victory at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals brought a tear to the eye of many — Capps included — as well as the thousands of Don Prudhomme fans around the globe.
08 Sep 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Ron Capps and 'the Snake'
In 41 straight years of attending the NHRA U.S. Nationals, I’ve stockpiled a ton of memories from the Big Go, far too many to detail here, but Ron Capps’ win in his Don Prudhomme/Hot Wheels tribute car at this year’s event probably easily cracks my…
View More

When it comes to 300 mph, I feel The Need: The Need To Talk about Speed

The old saying, "Speed is not just about going fast; it's about going faster than anyone else” certainly applies to drag racing. As we sit on the cusp of the first 300-mph eighth-mile pass, here’s a look back at the history of speed in drag racing.
25 Aug 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Need for Speed
At last year’s Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, Brittany Force’s David Grubnic-tuned Monster Energy Top Fueler reached a speed of 299.73 after covering just 660 feet of racetrack, falling just shy of the magic and lucrative 300-mph speed.…
View More

Drag books, drag movies, drag nicknames, and heroes that we’ve lost

In this week's Dragster Insider, we get a first look at a new Funny Car book and the proposed "Big Daddy" Don Garlits movie, take a look at drag racing nicknames, and offer remembrances of a trio of nitro racers who recently left us.
04 Aug 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster Insider
The Western Swing is history, and my bags are unpacked for a couple of weeks, allowing me to play a little catchup. A lot has happened since my last column three weeks ago, so here we go. Steve Reyes’ newest drag racing history book arrived…
View More

Girl power! The big list of female firsts in NHRA Drag Racing history

In no other motorsport have women accomplished as much as they have in NHRA Drag Racing. The female drivers of the NHRA have racked up scores of firsts in the sport that place them head and shoulders above their peers in other motorsports. Here's a look at some of those firsts.
07 Jul 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Female firsts
Lauren Freer earned a piece of NHRA history at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk when she became the first woman to win in two classes at an NHRA national event. Freer, who previously had collected four wins, scored first in…
View More

The Dual-Fuel Club: 18 drivers who have won in both Top Fuel and Funny Car

Eighteen Funny Car drivers have done something that even the great John Force never has (and likely never will) do: Win in both Funny Car and Top Fuel. With his Funny Car win at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Blake Alexander became the latest driver to win in both classes at an NHRA national event. 
29 Jun 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Dual-Fuel Club
Eighteen Funny Car drivers have done something that even the great John Force never has (and likely never will) do: Win in both Funny Car and Top Fuel. With his Funny Car win at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Blake Alexander became the…
View More

The 10: Don Garlits

Drag racing legend Don Garlits will be the grand marshal at this weekend's inaugural Wally Parks NHRA Nostalgia Nationals in Bowling Green, Ky. Here's a look at 10 magical moments from the career of "Big Daddy."
16 Jun 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Don Garlits
In 2001, as part of its 50th-anniversary celebration, NHRA created a list of the Top 50 Drivers of its first 50 years, with a panel of experts weighing in based on criteria that included on…
View More

Getting off a fast start: A historic look at early-season dominators

Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Gaige Herrera has won the first three events of the 2023 campaign, marking only the 13th time in NHRA history that a driver won three or more events to start a season. Here's a historical look back at other fast starts to seasons.
26 May 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Dragster insider
The NHRA world is abuzz this season with the fast start of second-year Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Gaige Herrera,…
View More

John Jodauga's illustrations, words, and spirit were part of the NHRA for 50 years

John Jodauga, the talented motorsport artist, longtime former member of the NHRA National Dragster staff, and the man with the most mispronounced last name in motorsports, passed away May 11, and he and his artwork are remembered by his friends and colleagues.
18 May 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
John Jodauga
John Jodauga, the talented motorsport artist, longtime former member of the NHRA National Dragster staff, and the man with the most mispronounced last name in motorsports, left us last week, passing away May 11 at age 77 after a…
View More

From Half Day to Route 66, from 'the Greek' to 'Wilk,' an Illinois drag racing primer

Next weekend, the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will take its official return to Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., to continue the state’s 70-year love affair with drag racing.
12 May 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Route 66 Raceway
Next weekend, the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will take its official return to Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., to continue the state’s 70-year love affair with drag racing. According to Mel Bayshore’s encyclopedic…
View More

From Sweden with love: An artistic salute to Funny Cars of the 1970s and '80s

Swedish artist Lars “Loors” Svensson has created a very cool 1970s Funny Car poster that faithfully shows the flanks and noses of 24 recognizable floppers. It's his tribute to those colorful and memorable cars of the era.
05 May 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
FC poster
A few years ago, I wrote a Dragster Insider column about drag racing fans who collected shards of shattered Funny Car body parts to adorn their man caves. Funny Cars were much more…
View More

Remembering Bill Mullins

Veteran racer Bill Mullins, the only driver in NHRA history to win in Top Gas, Top Alcohol Dragster, and Top Fuel, passed away April 10 at age 88, and his story and life are remembered here.
21 Apr 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Bill Mullins
Over the course of 40-plus years on the job, you meet a lot of racers. The overwhelming majority of them are nice, friendly, and open and accommodating of our probing and sometimes difficult questions. And then there was Bill Mullins, Southern…
View More

The Magnificent 11: The short list of non-U.S. born racers to qualify No. 1

At the recent NHRA Arizona Nationals, Cristian Cuadra became the first Mexican-born racer to qualify No. 1 in a Pro class at an NHRA national event. Only 10 other non-U.S.-born racers have accomplished the feat. These are their stories.
07 Apr 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
The Magnificent 11
The Insider is back in the saddle after back-to-back weekends in Phoenix and Pomona, and it was Phoenix and the final NHRA Arizona Nationals that provided the genesis for today’s column. Before we get there, let me tip my hat to the history of…
View More

Remembering Doug Kerhulas and Dave Hough

It’s been a sad parade of losses in the sport here lately, but two recent ones struck deep nerves as we lost 1980s Top Fuel star Doug Kerhulas and Fuel Altered icon Dave Hough in the span of 10 days.
17 Mar 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider
Remembering Doug Kerhulas and Dave Hough
It’s been a sad parade of losses in the sport here lately, but two recent ones struck deep nerves with me as we lost 1980s Top Fuel star Doug Kerhulas and Fuel Altered icon Dave Hough in the span of 10 days. As a young fan in the 1970s in…
View More