It’s time to hit the history books–drag racing history, that is. We’ve compiled a few significant moments in drag racing’s story in the U.S. from historic firsts to key institutional developments. Come along for the ride to learn more about the sport we know and love.
Speed vs Acceleration
The Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) hosted their first speed week in Bonneville Salt Flats in 1949. The race gave racers the opportunity to run “against the clock” (essentially a stopwatch). This caused racers to shift their focus from obtaining the highest speeds possible to getting a quicker acceleration instead, paving the way for modern drag racing.
Santa Ana Drags
The very first official drag strip was built on an auxiliary runway at Texas’ Orange County Airport back on June 19, 1950. The drag strip, named Santa Ana Drags, included a pit area, restrooms, grandstands and computerized timing clock, which appealed to many racers as it gave them the opportunity to accurately time their runs. Unfortunately, the historic strip closed down on June 21, 1959. Reunions still take place there two times per year.
Words become reality
As co-founder and writer for Hot Rod Magazine, Wallace “Wally” Parks used the platform as a way to promote safety practices among racers. In May 1951, his efforts grew to create an organized government among the racing community which is known as the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).
This year marks the first time the NHRA hosted their Nationals event. The event took place in Great Bend, Kansas. The event is now known as the “Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals” and has settled at the Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park), after a verbal agreement between Wally Parks and the former owners of the track.