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When the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was formed in 1951 by Wally Parks, the reasoning for the formation was to “create order from chaos” by instituting safety rules and performance standards that helped legitimize the sport of drag racing. Some organization was certainly necessary. A postwar boom in automotive enthusiasm was reaching new heights, and Hot Rod magazine and the NHRA were right in the thick of it.
The NHRA hosted its first drag racing event in 1953, and in 1955, the organization staged its first national event, which was simply called “The Nationals.” The AHRA formed in 1956 as an alternative to the NHRA, where the drivers voted on the rules (rather than sanctioning bodies and tracks), and their influence on the sport was felt almost immediately.
When the NHRA denied the use of nitromethane in 1957, the AHRA approved it. When the NHRA banned aircraft-powered dragsters in 1961, the AHRA welcomed them. When the NHRA said no to the emerging Funny Car in 1965, the AHRA said yes. When fans and racers screamed for a heads-up Super Stock category in 1968, the AHRA delivered. The AHRA was called a rebel association. Some say that it was more of an association that got things done—to the delight of fans and racers. The AHRA was on equal ground with the NHRA by the 1970s, drawing enormous crowds and racer entries.
In this fascinating history, veteran author Doug Boyce tells the story of the AHRA: the rise, the competition, the events, and the eventual downfall of the organization. After AHRA President Jim Tice passed away in 1982, internal fighting for control of the association resulted in its doom. Get the whole story here, and add this wonderful volume to your drag racing library
The early '70s were a pivotal time for rear-engine dragsters. "Slingshots" were front engine fire-breathing diggers where the driver sat just three feet behind the motor. This set-up proved to be very dangerous, so in 1970 at Lions Drag Strip "Big Daddy" Don Garlits vowed, after a horrific transmission explosion in his slingshot Wynns Charger, that he would formulate a design that would put the fuel motor behind him. The emergence of the rear-engine dragster rekindled the interest in Top Fuel Eliminator class. Legendary championship drivers like TV Tommy Ivo, Tony Nancy, Gary Beck, Don Prudhomme, Jerry Ruth, Carl Olson, Tom McEwen, Shirley Muldowney, James Warren, Jeb Allen, Herm Peterson, Steve Carbone and many more, are all portrayed in sensational fire-and-smoke belching action at the race track.
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